Meal Prepping: Be friends, not foes!
I feel safe in saying that a lot of us out there have experienced the inner turmoil with meal prepping. The friendly side is that it's a huge time saver, it sets us up for success, and provides variety. However, the thought of predicting what and how much to make for an entire week can be overwhelming and it can end up consuming our coveted Sundays…Foe! After much “field research”, i,e my own trials and tribulations, here’s my approach to meal prep.
1) Keep it simple! If you’re new to this whole process, don’t stress out about preparing for the week start to finish. Focus on where meal prepping can do the most good for you. Is it breakfast? Dinner? Snacks? In our house, its dinner time and proteins. If I find a good recipe that’s more complex, I’ll go ahead and make it on my chosen prep day too.
2) Focus on the building blocks. These are food items that are easily morphed into different meals but by preparing them ahead of time, can save you tons of time during the week. Ex: Roasted bell peppers and onions, baked chicken, ground beef, chopped lettuce, brown rice or quinoa, etc. And then customize these building blocks by keeping a variety of low sodium seasoning mixes. My personal favorites are Italian blend, basic taco seasoning, garlic powder, and Montreal steak seasoning.
3) Making a grocery list. I like to make sure that my grocery list, at the very least, covers the following criteria.
- 2-3 Protein Sources
- 2-3 Types of Fruit
- 1 Bag Leafy Greens
- 4-6 Vegetable Varieties
- A Quick-Cooking Whole Grain
- 1 Cheese
- 2 Snack Options
4) Mise en Place: The French culinary phrase which simply means “putting in place”. Now that you’ve planned and purchased everything, get yourself organized for efficiency. Lay out all of your ingredients. Let the oven preheat while you cut up produce. Use time-saving gadgets such as the crock-pot, food processor, and veggie choppers. And even take advantage of the time savers from the grocery store such as pre-cut produce or rotisserie chicken!
5) Storage: This is always my moment of complete satisfaction! My hard work is on display in storage containers, waiting for me in the fridge when I need them at a moment’s notice. I try to have storage containers in a variety of sizes and make sure they are airtight to maintain freshness. And it’s always good to review the basics of food safety for safe food storage.
In closing, may you rekindle your friendship with meal prepping and feel the satisfaction of time saved for weeks to come!
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