After a long day at work, it can be almost impossible to convince yourself to cook a full meal when you get back home. That’s where meal prepping can come in handy. Meal prepping is a newer trend that promotes a healthier lifestyle by having you plan, prepare, and package your meals and snacks in advance for the next day, a couple of days, or week.
So, in order to help you get started, here are a few essential tips and tricks to help you get the hang of meal prepping.
Invest in the Right Containers
Having ample storage containers is arguably the most crucial step in the meal prepping process. Having enough containers can be a small investment, but you’d save money eating a packed lunch versus buying. Storage containers also provide an easy way to set portion sizes, thus keeping you from under or overeating. The type of container is just as important as what you put in it. Meal prep experts recommend glass Pyrex or mason jars (if you’re into that kind of thing), but if you want to go with plastic containers, they suggest BPA-free and microwave/dishwasher-safe containers.
Make a Detailed Shopping List
Having an in-depth plan is the first step of meal prepping. It’s imperative that you create a detailed plan and shopping list that you'll stick to. A possible idea to help you start your plan is to theme your days (e.g., taco Tuesday, seafood night, meatless Monday, etc.). When you go shopping don’t let extra junk sneak into your cart. If it doesn’t make it home, then you don’t have to worry about using your willpower to avoid it. Not only does it reduce the temptation, but it also helps you save money.
Stock Up on Meal Prep Staples
A lot of meals use very similar ingredients that you should continuously have stocked and ready to go. These ingredients are called ‘staples.’ Some recommended staples include frozen fruits and vegetables, frozen brown rice or quinoa, frozen shrimp or salmon, plain oatmeal, beans, tomatoes, salsa, and chicken or veggie broths. Obviously, this isn't all of them, but they're a few recurring staples in meal prepping recipes that people recommend you keep in your pantry and freezer.
Utilize Time Off
Whether it’s during the weekend, a day off during the week, or just sometimes after work, find the time to sit down and get your prep done. It can seem overwhelming at first, and veteran preppers recommend setting aside just a couple of hours to finish what you can. Once you get used to all that meal prepping entails, experts suggest you start figuring out how to multitask. It helps you get more recipes completed in a shorter amount of time. It takes practice and patience, but with enough tenacity, you can get it done.
The easiest way to screw up your meal prepping plans? When you don’t plan for it. Sure, it’s easy to think ‘there’s no way I’d do that,’ but when a friend calls and asks you to do something way more fun than meal prepping, wouldn’t you take it? I’m betting you would, because I know I would, too. So, what’s the solution? Put it in your calendar, mark it in big, bright red letters, and don’t let anything distract you from it. Sometimes, it helps to have someone holding you accountable, so if a friend calls and asks you to hang out during your meal prep time, invite them over to help!
Mix It Up
It’s hard to eat the exact same thing every day, so plan ahead. Make two or three main dishes that you can mix-and-match with various sides throughout the week. If you’re careful and plan right, it ensures that you have something a little bit different every day, which will make sure you don’t get bored with what you’re eating.