You know the people who love to cook and experiment in the kitchen? That is not me. I wish it was. I am always a little envious of the people who talk about cooking like it is therapy. I love the idea of going into the kitchen and starting with a recipe as a base, and then making it my own with different seasonings and spices, but in reality I like to get in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible.
I also like to wait until I am already hungry to start thinking about what I want to eat, or at least I used to until I realized that 1). waiting until I am hungry to start thinking about what to eat leads me to make less-than-healthy decisions and 2). planning ahead makes life a lot easier with a toddler in the house. This realization is what made me start thinking about meal planning and prepping.
When I first started thinking about meal prepping I was totally intimidated. For someone who doesn’t like to cook, the idea of spending one day cooking meals for the week did not sound appealing. As I started to look more into it, I realized that meal prepping doesn’t mean I have to spend my entire Sunday in the kitchen. Instead, it seemed that spending some time in the kitchen one day was going to save me a lot of time during the week. Plus, everyone was talking about all the money they were saving at the grocery store by only buying the ingredients they needed, vs. what sounded good in the moment. This all sounded good to me so, I decided to give it a try, and now I am hooked!
Meal prepping isn’t as scary as it may sound when it is broken down into a few easy tips.
1. Planning your meals
The first step to meal prepping is planning out what you are going to eat for the week. Don’t be afraid to repeat. Choose two or three of your favorite recipes for each meal. I love to plan meals that I can eat for dinner one night and then have again a day or two later for lunch.
Cook in batches
Choose recipes that have similar ingredients that you can cook all at once. Just
remember to take into account how many meals you are planning so you can adjust your
shopping list. Some great examples are:
Roasted veggies for omelettes, salads, or sides
Quinoa for breakfast porridge, stuffed peppers, or as a great addition to soups
Grilled chicken to add to wraps, salads, or on it’s own with some of those roasted veggies and quinoa on the side
Portion and plate
Portioning out you meals into containers means you can just grab, heat, and eat! Gone
will be the days of staring into the fridge trying to decide what to eat. This is great for
workday lunches too.
Frozen fruits and veggies can be just as good as fresh
A great time saver is having frozen fruits and veggies on hand to add to smoothies,
stir fries, or even to eat as a yummy snack. Since frozen veggies have already been
cooked, you can heat them up as a quick side to add to the quinoa and chicken breast
you have ready to go, making a complete and balanced meal!
Mini meal prep
Some tasks are best left until the night before or when you are about to eat. These tasks
might include washing fresh fruit, chopping some veggies (like greens so they don’t wilt),
and adding fresh herbs. Since you already have your meals all planned out, it’s easy to
plan in a little extra time for these last minute additions.
Time is precious, and for a few extra dollars you may be able to find some great
shortcuts at your grocery store. I LOVE cauliflower fried rice, but I didn’t make it very
often because making the cauliflower rice can be a bit of a process. Now that I can find
organic cauliflower rice in the frozen food aisle, cauliflower fried rice is a 5 minute dish! I
cook up a big batch of cauliflower rice with lots of veggies, and then when I reheat it
throughout the week, I just add an egg to the pan for an authentic fried rice!
As you are planning, please keep food safety in mind. Cooked food is generally good stored in the fridge for 3-5 days. If you are cooking on Sunday for Friday, you may want to freeze that meal. Just take it out Thursday evening to thaw.
That’s it! Meal planning and prepping can be as simple as that. I am hosting a FREE Clean Eating and Meal Prepping group on Facebook starting on Monday 2/12. If you are interested in learning more about clean eating, meal prep, and portioning, (there will even be PRIZES), I would love to have you join us. Send me a PM or like my page by clicking below and I will add you to the group.
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