If you take your fitness seriously, then there is one thing that you can’t fail to do: that is meal prepping. It’s one of the easiest ways in which you can set yourself up for healthy eating. You can plan a few days, a whole week, or even longer. It will make your life easier and will help you make better food choices when you don’t have to scramble around for sustenance when you are tired and hungry. In this handy guide we can help you get started.
Get Your Containers Ready
This is really the initial step. You need good, strong and spill-proof containers in which you can put all of your meals. You can choose glass or BPA free plastic. It’s a good idea to get a bunch in the same size so you can easily stack them. And make sure you get enough containers to meet all of your needs.
This is an important step. It’s no good going to the store and buying a bunch of random stuff and then not knowing what you’re going to do with the food. Additionally, don’t try to take off more than you can chew. If you are new to meal prepping, start off with planning just a few days in advance.
Think about the week ahead and decide how many meals you are going to need. Write down each breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner you will need and keep in mind the number of adults and children who will be eating these meals.
Think about how much time you will have for cooking and try to combine some easy meals that take little cooking time along with your more difficult meals. Choose meals that your family enjoys, consider what’s in season, and think about how you can use the same ingredients in several different ways. Consider having a master list of go-to dishes that can help with this planning task.
Then, break down the ingredients you will need for each recipe and how much.
Schedule your dishes
Once you have a list of meals, schedule when you will be eating each one. Take into account the shelf life of your food; for example, fresh fish needs to be consumed within a day or two, but your pasta can probably keep until the end of the week.
Put all of your choices on a calendar. You can use a printable template or a digital one, but having a quick way to look at make reference to your calendar is important. Keep it in the kitchen to help you be accountable and to let your family know what to expect for dinner.
Make sure you have your grocery list handy. It’s a good idea to make the list while you write down the meals you will be eating for the week in your calendar. It’s important to write down not only the foods you will be buying for your meal prep period, but also the quantities you will need.
Before you head out to the grocery store, take an inventory of what you have at home. This will help you avoid over-buying and might even make you change your mind about some of the meals you have planned.
Prepare your list so that you can quickly take care of the shopping. If you don’t want to waste valuable time at the store, you can group your foods so that you purchase everything in order. So, write out everything you need from produce; breads and grains; baking goods, oils, condiments and spices; crackers; beverages’ meat, dairy and eggs.
If you really want to save time, consider doing your grocery shopping online. Many stores will now fill up your basket so that it’s ready for pick-up and some even offer delivery.
Begin Prepping and Cooking
This is a step in which you can include the whole family! It’s much easier than doing it on your own. Be sure to cut up all the vegetables you will be using, grate any cheeses, make sauces and prep whatever you can ahead of time. Start off cooking your meals or prepping the things that can be popped in the over or thrown in the crock-pot on the day of cooking. You can even measure out the spices and put them in plastic baggies, parboil potatoes, and roast up your veggies.
Then, prepare your breakfasts. For this category, you can prep overnight oats, cereals, breakfast bars and smoothies all at once. Finally, fill up your snacks such as veggies, nuts and dried fruits.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but it will really make your life a lot easier. You will not only keep yourself healthy and help keep yourself on track with smart meal choices, but you will save so much time and money. Taking some of your free time to plan ahead and do the heavy lifting will mean that you and your family can still eat well, even when you don’t have much time.