There’s no doubt how overwhelming meal prep can be. Sometimes trying to figure out what you want to eat for your next meal is hard enough, let alone an entire week! But with just a few tips, meal prep can become a breeze. Not only does it help you become more organized, there’s no debate over what’s for dinner and you save time on prep. Here are a few tips to help you meal prep like a pro!
Deciding What Will Be On The Menu
Before you start writing a grocery list, planning what you want to serve every night is key. The best time to do this is over the weekend, where you have time to concentrate and even get some input if you don’t want to do this part alone. You’ll start with deciding on one food category per week. There are a few foods categories – heavy protein, heavy carb, and specialty cuisine. Heavy protein will mostly consist of burgers, steak, chicken, pork, etc. Heavy carb will be pasta, rice, potatoes, chilis, and bread. Specialty cuisines are Italian food, pizza, Mexican, Asia, or anything else your family loves. Once you pick out a category, you can narrow down which meals you want to cook within that category. This helps cut down on time when deciding what to eat and helps narrow down your choices. Make sure to write down things you know your family will enjoy and you’ll enjoy making.
After you’ve decided what meals you want to make, it’s time to put them on a calendar so you can schedule accordingly. Make sure to double check what events may be going on that week. If you have any appointments, meetings, or even birthdays it may have an effect on your meal plans. Meals that may take a little bit more time and effort should be scheduled for days that are lighter, versus a busy day. After you decide how you want to schedule your meals, don’t forget to add in sides or any family favorites! Once you have everything mapped out, you’re ready to start your grocery list. Tip: when making your grocery list for popular meals, try to save it or make an extra copy. That way when you make this meal again in the future, you don’t have to go back and look at recipes, and your list is ready to go!
Planning Prep Schedules
This part is kind of scary if you’ve never done prep for future meals, but it’s actually pretty simple! Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you never did it before. Not only does is help you plan out your week, it saves a huge amount of time if done right. You don’t need to be a professional, and it doesn’t have to be a chore. Make sure to pick a time where you’ll have a few hours to focus on what you need to do, what needs to be portioned, cut, or seasoned. If you know you need to make dough for a pizza, make it the night before. When it’s time for dinner, your prep time will be short and sweet. When trying to figure out what meals to make on busy days, think about leftovers. If you make double servings of dinner the night before, there’s no need to worry about what’s for dinner.
As soon as you get home from the store, try to start on some of the meal prep. Even if you can’t plan out meals right now, taking care of your produce all at once is a huge time saver. Slice and portion all of your veggies and fruits that you can. If you know you’re making something in the next few days that requires diced peppers, do it now and you won’t have to worry later. Make sure to use sealed bags and Tupperware, because moisture is not your friend. Portioning is a huge part of produce prep, too. If you cut fruit and have it portioned and ready to go, you have a healthy snack ready! Make sure to rinse all of your veggies and fruits before anything else.
Whatever dry snacks you buy, try to portion them after you prep your produce. Portioning snacks really helps with portion control for the whole family! Additionally, when packing school lunches or snacks for sporting events, it super easy. Can you imagine reaching in the pantry, grabbing a Ziploc and throwing it in a bag? You may not be able to do this with all of your snacks, but you won’t regret portioning the rest.
And that’s about it! It may sound detailed or over-complicated, but it can really come in handy when time is not on your side. If you’re not super organized, don’t worry. The plans aren’t set in stone and you can’t plan everything! Look at the calendar as a guideline to make cooking a little more stress-free. Start out with just planning dinners, and if you come to love meal prep, add in breakfast and lunch too! There’s not really a wrong way to meal prep, but it can be a learning process. How do you feel about meal prep? Leave your comments for us below!