Meal prepping saves you time and money on cooking meals each week. It can make your life much easier! To get started, check out the tips and tricks in this Beginner's Guide to Meal Prep.
Meal Prepping is popping up all over! From magazines to books and blogs, meal prepping is really blowing up. If you have been thinking about starting to meal prep, you may have put it off thinking it is too complicated and won't work for your schedule. The truth is, meal prepping makes things easier for you and it shaves large amounts of time off your cooking for the week! Still, the idea of doing it may be intimidating. Here is a basic Beginner's Guide to Meal Prep to get you going.
Beginner's Guide to Meal Prep
Start with just one meal for the week. Many people jump in too hard and too fast when it comes to meal prepping. Instead of trying to plan 3 meals plus snacks all at once, wait until you can make meal prepping a habit and start with just one meal. Dinner or lunch is a good place to start for those new to meal prep. You can add a second meal and then a third when you get down the first one. My cookbook, Prep-Ahead Breakfasts and Lunches, has a variety of make-ahead breakfast recipes and lunch recipes to fit your schedule. You can learn more about the cookbook here.
Gather recipes that have similar ingredients. Do you have a Pinterest board or recipe box for all your family favorites? Look through those recipes and examine the ingredient lists. It might be interesting to see that many of them call for a lot of the same ingredients like chicken or rice. Next, choose 5 or 6 that have the most similar ingredients and add them to your meal plan. This will make it very easy to shop for all the ingredients you will need for the week. Need more help? You can find recipes organized by main proteins, and batch cooking instructions in my cookbook Prep-Ahead Meals from Scratch.
Get the right tools. It is true that you can meal prep as long as you have a stove and oven. However, it is far easier and less work is involved if you also do some of your batch cooking in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Using these tools will help you cook larger quantities at the same time and you can sort of ‘set it and forget it.' You can find batch cooking tutorials here. This leaves you more time to do other things like chop the vegetables you will need for the week.
It is also important that you have good storage options as well that can go into the freezer. You can use lidded containers which can be reused. If you don't have enough storage containers, you can use sealable plastic bags to store sandwiches, fruits, vegetables, and snacks.
Give yourself grace. Don't give up if you get discouraged. I once read that it can actually take 30 days for something to become a habit, so give yourself lots of time to get used to this new way of cooking. Use these meal prep tips to help you start meal prepping.