Think about the times you've gone to the grocery, grabbing items you may not necessarily need, only to leave spending more than you anticipated. What about when it came to deciding what to eat for lunch or dinner? Think about the time you spent figuring out what you were in the mood for and then if you were going to make or go grab it from a local restaurant. How often do you come home dreading cooking dinner after a long day at work? Have you ever wondered if there was an easier way to go about your meals?
Meal prepping has been around for a while and recently it's been popping up more and more on social media. There are many benefits to preparing your meals in advance such as:
- Saves time throughout the week
- Help you reach your wellness goals
- Convenience, for both cleaning and meal making
- Flexible to your schedule
- Cut back on food costs - no more extra buys
- Reduce stress
- Helps you be healthier
- Works no matter how many people you're prepping for
Though these are just a few, there a plenty of more benefits to meal prepping that you will see once you begin. Check out this webinar on Meal Prepping from HealthCheck360 to learn more about meal prepping.
- First, you need to decide what will work for you. Do you need to prep everything for the week on Sunday or do you want to prep at the beginning then half way through the week? There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to meal prepping. It's flexible and can change with your schedule.
- If you're prepping for more than one person, talk to them and see what interests them. Planning in advance and getting an idea of what everyone wants will help you keep food costs and waste down. Write down these meals and search recipe ideas; there are tons available online on Google and Pinterest. Be sure to save the ones that you love for future reference!
- Make sure you have some of these items on hand: small storage containers for meals, labels, baggies, any special gadgets you may want (i.e. spiralizer), etc.
- As you begin planning your meals, don't feel like you need to have a different option for every meal. Double up your recipe and have several on hand. You can throw the extra in the freezer until you are ready to eat.
- One of the best ways to save time is to multitask when prepping your meal. If the meat is cooking, go ahead and start cutting the vegetables or putting together some of your meals. Ask your family members to join you in preparing the meals. Not only will this speed up the process, but it will allow you to spend some time with your family. Talk about a double win!
Storing Your Food
Sometimes we forget about the leftovers we've pushed to the back of the fridge, only to pull it out and throw it away. Proper storage and using labels to identify the meal and prep date meal prep will help you not only prevent food spoilage but help with food waste as well.
The following are recommended times for various cooked foods that offer the best flavors, maximum nutrients, and food safety by the School of Public Health at Harvard:
Refrigeration at 40°F or Lower
1-2 days: Cooked ground poultry or ground beef
3-4 days: Cooked whole meats, fish and poultry; soups and stews
5 days: Cooked beans; hummus
1 week: Hard boiled eggs; chopped vegetables if stored in air-tight container
2 weeks: Soft cheese, opened
5-6 weeks: Hard cheese, opened
Freezing at 0°F or Lower
2-3 months: Soups and stews; cooked beans
3-6 months: Cooked or ground meat and poultry
6-8 months: Berries and chopped fruit (banana, apples, pears, plums, mango) stored in a freezer bag
8-12 months: Vegetables, if blanched first for about 3-5 minutes (depending on the vegetable)
- Chicken Burrito Bowls
- Peanut Butter & Banana Roll-Ups Snack Box
- Breakfast Protein Box
- Honey Sriracha Meatballs
- Lemon Roasted Salmon with Sweet Potatoes and Broccolini
- Pesto Chicken & Veggies
Are you ready to start meal prepping? Have you already begun? Join the conversation below and share your thoughts, ideas, and recipes!