How to Meal Plan and Prep

how to meal plan and prep

Meal planning and prepping can help you reach any of your health-related goals: from muscle building and fat loss, to simply feeling healthier overall. Meal prep saves you time during the week while cutting grocery bill waste; plus it will keep you on track with healthy eating goals!

Start slowly and work up to prepping two or three meals every week, using either AnyList (meal planning app) or pen and paper as tools to keep track of recipes and shopping lists.

1. Make a Menu

No matter your experience in meal planning, taking time on the weekend to create your menu for next week can help reduce mealtime stress while saving money and eating healthier options. Meal planning may even meet specific dietary or medical needs of family members better.

Start by choosing some recipes you would like to prepare and matching them with your budget and cooking skills. Also take into account any dietary restrictions your family might have as well as food allergies or sensitivities you need to account for and how much time is available for meal prep.

Once you’ve selected your menu, write out a shopping list based on its ingredients and groceries to purchase. This will allow you to stay on track with what needs to be purchased while reducing food waste and shopping trips during the week.

Meal prepping can become tiresome over time. To add variety to your menu, rotate between proteins you prepare, vegetables, sauces and garnishes as well as setting up a “bar” where each member of the family can serve themselves a personalized plate at mealtimes.

Meal planning and prep systems vary, but it is key that you find one that works for you and your family. Some individuals prefer planning their meals one week at a time while others might enjoy creating meals for an entire month at once. Some individuals even opt to divide the tasks of meal preparation between several days during a given week or month.

An efficient food shopping, meal prep and cooking regimen requires dedicating one day each week or month. Doing this allows for concentrated attention to each task at hand and may help ease mealtime frustration if working with a schedule is unfamiliar to you. When labeling meal prep containers with their date and contents information it helps avoid accidentally using frozen goods too soon or refrigerating foods too early.

2. Shop

As part of meal planning, it’s essential to remain aware of deals at local grocery stores. Shopping sale items will help keep your budget under control for meal prep budgeting – this especially holds true when purchasing proteins which tend to be the costliest component of a meal.

As soon as it’s time to shop, review your meal plan and compile a list of ingredients you need for it. This step is essential in meal prepping as it allows you to avoid those midweek grocery trips that add up. Taking inventory of what already exists in the fridge and pantry is also helpful. Palinski-Wade suggests writing her shopping list according to which recipes she plans on cooking this week before cross-checking it against what already exists within her house; alternatively meal planning apps like Paprika or AnyList allow users to click a recipe within their app before automatically creating their grocery lists based upon said recipe’s requirements – she recommends writing it down so as to reduce time spent planning time when shopping!

Once in the store, stick with your meal planning list. This will prevent impulse purchases that won’t fit into your meal plans and save money. If browsing is inevitable, Syn suggests staying away from snack aisles and purchasing healthy whole foods instead.

Engaging the entire family in meal planning is another effective way to simplify it, teaching children about budgeting and nutrition while teaching cooking skills. Plus, having everyone onboard helps keep everyone accountable and motivated!

3. Prep

Meal prep refers to the practice of prepping meals or meal components ahead of time so they’re easy to reheat and enjoy when needed. Some may prepare entire recipes that they can consume throughout the week; others might just prepare ingredients that they can use to quickly and simply make quick and simple meals such as roast vegetables or salads. It’s also important to remember that meal planning shouldn’t be rigid; be open-minded enough to accommodate unexpected dietary changes or events that arise last minute.

As you prepare meals on meal prep day, look for foods that offer maximum value for money. Prepare foods like proteins (chicken, fish, tofu or lean meats), veggies and fruits as well as starches like potatoes beans lentils and whole grains so as to create an attractive diet without needing to shop every week. This way you’ll achieve variety without breaking the bank every week!

On your meal prep day, create a list of everything that needs to be done to prepare the foods on your menu. This will keep you organized and efficient in getting everything completed quickly; plus it helps track any spoiled items so they won’t end up wasted!

Prep day should last at least an hour; it could even take as little as 30 minutes if you have an efficient system in place that works for you. Perhaps writing out a checklist of tasks and accomplishing them one at a time to reduce how frequently you have to wash your hands or clean off the cutting board or bring items in and out again.

Be sure to label and date any food stored in the fridge or freezer so you know when it needs to be eaten by. Also, store oldest ones at the front for easy consumption first and consider using glass or metal containers instead of plastic as BPA-free plastic may release harmful carcinogenic chemicals into your food supply.

4. Cook

Meal planning may seem intimidating at first, especially if you’re uncertain how to prepare all the meals you have planned. To simplify things and prevent stress-inducing meal prep nightmares, try starting by cooking only some dinners every week; this allows for flexibility to enjoy dining out once or twice without breaking your healthy meal prep plan – while simultaneously stopping you from skipping meals during the day and binging on unhealthy fare once home.

As soon as you’re ready to cook, take time to create an inventory list of all of the ingredients required for each of the recipes on your meal plan and shop accordingly. Shopping according to this method reduces food waste while saving time by only purchasing what’s necessary; furthermore, shopping according to this plan eliminates multiple trips to the store throughout the week!

Once you have all your ingredients ready, follow each recipe’s instructions exactly. If you are just beginning in the kitchen, it may be beneficial to start off simple; but as your confidence increases and new dishes appear on your radar screen, try expanding and branching out. A YouTube channel like Fit Men Cook provides great support as you expand into more advanced techniques.

If your meal plans include recipes with different cooking times, try cooking them all separately. For instance, when making Crock-Pot or Instant Pot recipes, start them first before beginning to prepare proteins and vegetables that cook faster. This allows you to finish making other meals while you wait for longer-cooking recipes to finish cooking, and cuts down on oven use which could cause uneven heating or undercooked foods.

Meal prep aims to make eating well easy, without spending too much time or becoming overwhelmed. While establishing an effective system may take some time at first, with practice you will soon develop your own efficient routine that makes mealtimes simpler and healthier in no time!

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