When preparation meets opportunity, you'll have
Whether you are trying to lose weight, maintain weight or want to eat out less but don't want to cook hot meals every day, then Meal Prepping may be for you. There are so many benefits to meal prepping and I am happy to share some of them with you.
Having a busy career (healing the minds of others) combined with a busy home life (tending to a husband, chirrens and a dog) can be very taxing. Especially when it comes to trying to incorporate more home cooked meals versus, the quick, convenient, fuss free take-out meals. But those quick meals can come at a costly price, both physically and financially.
So what are some of the benefits of meal prepping?
I know the first thought that comes to mind is wait a minute, doesn't meal prepping require a lot of planning and time? How will this be saving me time? Meal prepping does require planning and some time but the cool part about it is that it will save you way more time, energy and effort in the long run. So here is a look at some of the benefits:
Helps to save money
When we spend $20 - $30 on pizza or take-out, that price could cover the cost of 2 home cooked meals, plus left overs.
Now to share some of the "Ins & Out" of how to get started with meal prepping:
Make a snapshot (list) of yours and/or your family's favorite foods and meals
Collect recipes for you favorite foods. This helps to minimize boredom that comes from eating the same meals over and over.
Make a "theme night" calendar for your meals to keep the process entertaining and fun. For example, my family and I have random theme nights such as "Taco Tuesdays", "Chicken Wednesdays", and "Fish Fridays". This helps ease some of the planning of your meals because you will already have an idea of what meals to plan.
Decide how many days you are going to prep for and which meals you will be prepping (i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks). If you are just starting out with meal prepping, starting with 2-3 days may be best for you until you have established a routine for your meal prep.
Create a weekly menu and a grocery list for all the items you need for your meals. Then choose a day to do your grocery shopping and a different day that you will do your actual meal prep.
Prep Day: Game Time
As mentioned above, choose a day for your meal prep that is separate from the day you grocery shop. That way you can put away your groceries and have everything organized and ready to go for your meal prep. Sometimes doing both on the same day can lead to less motivation and feeling overwhelmed. The day you choose for meal prep should be a day that you will have time to chop, slice, bake, boil, slow cook and however else you will prepare your meals for the week.
Try to multi-task when preparing your meals. For instance when you have something baking in the oven, cooking on the stovetop or in the slow cooker, use that time to wash and chop fresh fruits or prepare salads for the week.
Once you're done cooking, store your prepared food in air tight containers. You can choose to use meal prep containers (there are so many out on the market) and have your meals stored separately. Or you can choose to put the prepared food in its' own containers and toss them in your lunch containers the night before or morning of (i.e. all chicken in one container, all cooked veggies in their own respective containers, and so on). Choose which ever works best for you. I personally like to store our prepared food in its own respective containers. That way if I want to switch up the meals a little bit during the week, it is easier to have the food separated rather than already having the meals together in the meal prep containers.
For food safety guidelines and information on how long to store your prepared foods/meal, click the link below:
BONUS TIP: If you prefer to cook some of your meals during the week, you can still save time by marinating your meat or pre-make your casseroles/lasagnas, etc. ahead of time. And when you are ready to cook them, on the day of just put them in the oven, slow cooker or prepare as you normally would without the hassle of having to season them or mixing them thus saving yourself some time and energy.
You are now ready to start meal prepping!