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Meal prep is a broad term that refers the act of making meals and/or snacks ahead of time. The preparation portion can range from super simple to complex. Everything from packing nuts and fruit into containers for snacks to preparing a roast chicken with a few sides for dinners can be labelled as “meal prep”. Meal prep can be done for one person or whole big families and can be done at home or by a professional service.
Why Should You Meal Prep?
Preparing meals and snacks in advance can have several advantages and can help improve your life. Meal prep can help save you time and money, as well as frustration in the kitchen.
By designating part of one day a week to preparing ingredients and cooking for the upcoming days, you can save time day to day. This allows for busy days to flow how you’d like them to; they can be a bit more relaxed or centered around tasks that are more important to you.
Perhaps ones of the biggest ways meal prep can make a difference is that there is no need to ask yourself (or have others ask you) the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” without any clue on how to answer. Having food prepared and ready to heat and eat (or eat cold) can help you resist the urge to pull up a food delivery app.
If you have goals you’re trying to reach nutritionally, meal prep can certainly help you achieve them! For example, if you’re looking to eat more protein and fiber while cutting down on fat consumption, meal planning and prepping dishes with plenty of beans, legumes, and whole grains would be highly beneficial. By having these dishes that meet your requirements already prepared, you will be motivated to have them instead of something that doesn’t help you reach your goals.
Having meals made and portioned in advance can help cut down on food waste. It may take a few tries to really see the results of this, as it requires more planning in the grocery and meal planning stages than some people are accustomed to. Once you know exactly how to prepare your planned meals, you can buy exactly what you need without buying extra that will go to waste or be overeaten.
Reducing food waste isn’t great for only the environment, but your bank account, too! Less food waste means financial savings, having meals and/or snacks prepped means you (in theory) will be less likely to order take-out or delivery. You can also save money on your energy bills by batch cooking. For example, batch cooking uses less energy since it takes close to the same amount of time to cook one serving of quinoa and roasted veggies as it does to cook 4 servings.
Some Tips to Get You Started
- Get organized before you start cooking by deciding on your recipes for the week and creating a rough schedule of what to have which days, and making grocery lists
- Choose meals that you know you love, and that are easy to make multiple servings of. Now might not be the time to experiment with new and adventurous recipes. But change it up from week to week so you don’t get bored with the meals themselves or even the process of making them
- Consider how well each food keeps as “leftovers” before deciding to use them as a meal prep recipe. Research and follow food safety standards, especially for items containing meat, rice, or other grains
- If preparing an entire week of dinners or lunches at a time seems daunting, you don’t need to prep that many at once. Start by prepping 3 or 4 days of dinners or lunches at a time
- Meal prep doesn’t need to involve a lot (or even any!) cooking; simply packing up fresh veggies and hummus, slices of cheese and meat, and crackers in advance can help save you time on busy days
- Use reusable containers that can be used in the fridge, freezer, or microwave. Plastic containers should be BPA free
- Our containers can be used for hot or cold food items, are freezer to microwave safe, and are the ideal size for single servings
- Two section containers make it easy to enjoy a meal where you would like to separate components: great for curries and rice