If you find yourself grabbing take-out too often, have a hectic schedule or stressing about what to feed your family tonight, advance food preparation might be just the thing you’re after.
Spending time preparing food is linked to better dietary habits. This doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to the kitchen every day. With a little planning and know-how you can do a lot of meal prep in two or three hours for the coming week on a day off. This is good for your physical and mental health. You’ll be equipped to resist the temptation for that quick high carb/high fat fix and you’ll clear up some head space knowing that you’re prepared.
Food prep can appeal to you to save time, lose weight or put more care into your daily meals. We aren’t recommending that you prep everything in advance. That would likely be very overwhelming for most people and besides, some food just has to be served fresh. Who wants a soggy Caesar salad? Pick and choose what you want to prep ahead. There are no hard and fast rules here. We’ve put together a few suggestions to get you started.
Plan Your Meals
Map out your menu plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner for one week. Include a casserole or two and other freezer friendly dishes. Develop your shopping list from your menu and do your best to stick to it. Make sure you include everything you need to make meals. Don’t forget the parmesan, olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic etc. You don’t want to have to squeeze in another trip to the grocery store.
Set Aside Time to Shop and Prep
Go grocery shopping on the day you plan to do your food prep. Give yourself enough time for the tasks at hand so that you aren’t rushed. You want to enjoy the experience so that you’ll do it again.
You’ll need plenty of these so stock up.
Chop, Chop, Chop
Cut up veggies when you get home from the grocery store. Store each vegetable in an individual container. These are great for snacks as well. All kinds of vegetables will last for up to a week when stored properly.
While you’re at it cut up some cheese cubes. These are great for lunches and snacks.
Make Ahead Breakfast
Cooking in the morning is often impossible for people with busy schedules. Oatmeal, pancakes, muffins and crustless quiche can all be made on your prep day and will keep beautifully in your fridge or freezer. Make smoothie ‘kits’ ahead of time and store them in sandwich bags in your freezer. All you need to add are your liquid ingredients. Or you can make up smoothies and freeze them in muffin tins. Keep hard boiled eggs on hand.
Try making green salads ahead of time and store them in mason jars in your fridge. All you need to add is a little dressing. Add a muffin and a hardboiled egg and you’re good to go. Salads keep beautifully in these jars.
Casseroles are super freezer friendly. These are great prep ahead full meals. You could always make two and then you’re ahead of the game for a menu down the road. Stews, chili, soups, veggie enchiladas and lasagna all freeze beautifully.
You can also partially prep many of your dinners. Make up turkey, beef and chicken patties and freeze them. You can also bread patties and cutlets and pop them in the freezer until you need them. Pull them out for dinner and you’re almost there. Cook up spaghetti sauce and freeze it in meal size containers. Same goes for taco filling.
Roast a large batch of veggies and keep them in your fridge. Just reheat to complement any meal.These are just a few ideas to get you started. Once you get going, you’ll start experimenting and discovering. We’d love to hear your meal prep tips.