There is no right or wrong way to meal prep! Even the slightest amount of effort you put into prepping your meals will lead to some positive outcome. From prepping the majority of my weekly meals, I have saved money on takeout, cut back on time preparing individual meals and have begun eating much cleaner. I have prepared some tips below on how beginners can get started on building an approachable meal prepping plan.
Invest in enough containers to store food for as many days you are prepping for factoring in breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. If you will be microwaving your meals, use glass containers or BPA free plastic containers.
Do not overwhelm yourself and expect to prepare a week’s worth of food in one day. Cooking for 3-4 days at a time is a much more manageable task. You should always plan your meals and make your shopping lists accordingly before heading out to the grocery store. When you shop without a plan, you are more likely to end up stocking up on extra snacks and pile on foods that you don’t need or won’t use up in a week.
Another reason why you should prep your meals every 3-4 days instead of a week at a time when you are just beginning to meal prep is because you will most likely get sick of eating the same thing every day. Instead of cooking enough food for a full week, try making smaller batches. The variety in taste and food can help you stay motivated to continue prepping meals. You can also try alternating a protein, carb or meal every other day so you do not get bored of eating the same meal so often.
Some people dedicate a whole day to shop for ingredients, plan and cook meals. Others like to split up tasks throughout the week. Experiment and decide what system works best for you. Just because you are prepping for the week, that doesn’t mean you have to cook everything on the same day. You can prepare part of a meal by chopping veggies, marinating ingredients, washing fruits or veggies and packing food into containers. Your food will taste fresher if you cook your meals closer to the date that you are eating. Certain foods also tend to expire faster than others so plan your cooking time accordingly.
Don’t try new recipes right away
Begin your first few meal prep plans with recipes you have tried already so that you know exactly how many ingredients you need to buy. You will also be more confident with the outcome and be able to determine ahead of time how much food your recipe will make.
Cooking in hot weather
Pick easy dishes that involve minimal cooking time. During a heat wave, the last thing you want to do is cook in a hot kitchen for several hours! Use small kitchen appliances like a rice cooker instead of an oven. Make many dishes with chopped vegetables and ingredients that don’t require cooking to reduce assembly and cooking time.
Author: Claire Ford, BA (Hons)
Clinical Receptionist | Social Media Rep | Toronto Health & Fitness Advocate