Do you meal prep? Preparing meals in advance is a great way to save time and money. To prevent bland, boring meals, use these tips on How to Avoid Boredom in Meal Prepping.
Meal prepping is a great way to save time and money while eating nutritious meals. However, one reason I hear people say that they don’t do meal prep is that they worry they will become bored with the food choices. They simply don’t know that it doesn’t have to be boring at all! Meal prepping can be done for a variety of reasons, but two of the main reasons people do it is to save time and money or for portion control and weight loss. In either of these scenarios, it is all about what you chose to make. In neither scenario does that mean bland or repetitive! If these are concerns that you share, check out these helpful tips on How to Avoid Boredom in Meal Prepping!
How to Avoid Boredom in Meal Prepping
Do your research on recipes and gather 20 recipes that you think your family will enjoy. Need help? There are 100 prep-ahead recipes in my cookbook Prep-Ahead Meals from Scratch. If you are meal prepping, you will need more than a few recipes to work with. I like to choose 15 or 20 that I keep on a regular rotation. This allows me to have a mix of family favorites while leaving room for creating new recipes. A good way to prevent your family from becoming bored with meal prepping is to also add new recipes a couple of times per month. If they end up being keepers, you can add them to your rotation.
After you have your list of recipes, group them by primary proteins. Once you have grouped them by primary proteins, you can see which ones would be easy to include together in a meal prep session. Do you have 3 – 4 recipes that use chicken? 2 -3 recipes that use black beans? You can easily batch cook your beans and chicken to use as the foundation of a week of prep-ahead meals.
Play around with spices and seasoning. Just because you are meal prepping does not mean your food has to be bland. Many people meal prep for health or weight-loss reasons and think food has to be boring in order for it to be healthy. You do not have to eat the salad in jars or eat the same dinner of broiled chicken and vegetables every night. Seasonings and spices have few calories and there are many sauces that are low in both fat and calories, such as mustard. Meat, beans, and grains can be seasoned in a variety of ways that makes them taste distinctly different from each other so you won’t get bored. Even if you choose to batch broil chicken, you can change up the seasonings so that one day you have an Italian dish, the next a southwest dish, the following day an Asian dish. Here is a Prep-Ahead Meal Plan using broiled chicken to give you an idea of how you can vary the seasonings on 3 basic proteins to create a week of interesting dinners.
Alter your own recipes or your favorite recipes. Many recipes lend themselves well to meal prepping, but may not be what you are looking for nutrition-wise. Alter some of your favorite recipes by making healthier substitutions, so they can be included in your meal prepping recipes rather than skip them altogether.
Healthy Substitution Ideas:
- Plain yogurt in place of mayonnaise or sour cream.
- Substitute avocado for butter.
- Evaporated milk for cream.
- Unsweetened applesauce for oil.
- Zucchini or Sweet Potato ribbons for pasta.
- Spaghetti Squash for pasta.
- Lettuce leaves for tortillas.
Plan your side dishes as well as the main courses. Many people think only about the main course of their meal and the side dishes are an after-thought. Include side dishes in your meal prepping and batch cooking. This allows you to save even more time on meal prep. Plus varying which side dishes you pair with your main course and altering how you season the vegetables to accompany the main courses makes your meals far more interesting. In my cookbook Prep-Ahead Meals from Scratch, I share flavorful vegetable recipes such as Cajun-Spiced Cauliflower, Honey Mustard Broccoflower, Chipotle Sweet Potatoes, and Pumpkin-Pie Spiced Parsnip Fries to help
Get insight from others in your household. Sometimes when I have fallen into a food rut, I ask what others in my house would like to try. They often remind me of recipes that I haven’t made lately or suggest a new way of eating an old favorite. My family really enjoys Chicken Marsala, so they encouraged me to find new ways to use it in recipes. A Chicken Marsala Pizza recipe, inspired by my oldest son, is included in my cookbook. My daughter suggested I create a Chicken Marsala Casserole and my husband suggested I make a Chicken Marsala Crescent Ring. I didn’t have to come up with whole new flavor combinations, we just came up with new ways of serving family favorites.
Find recipes, batch cooking tips, and more in my cookbook Prep-Ahead Meals from Scratch.