Meal preparation can involve full recipes that you will store in the fridge and reheat at mealtimes, or individual ingredients you will use as building blocks to construct meals on your own (such as salads, burrito bowls and curries). Avocados, eggs and hard-boiled eggs make great candidates for meal prepping in advance.
Which meal-prepping method best meets your goals and daily schedule is ultimately up to you; experiment with various approaches until you find what suits you.
Make a grocery list
As you create your grocery list, include only ingredients needed to prepare the meals in your meal plan. This will help prevent unnecessary spending or trips to stores for items already owned, while simultaneously helping reduce food waste by only purchasing what’s necessary to complete those dishes on your list.
Keep your grocery list visible – on the fridge, dry erase board or an app on your phone – so everyone who uses the kitchen can add items as they use it and avoid frustration from running out of essential ingredients in time to create a recipe.
Not only should your grocery list include ingredients for planned meals, but it should also contain everyday necessities like drinks, snacks and household products – this way if a quick snack needs to be created or guests need entertaining there is everything on hand to do so!
As you create your list, take an inventory of both your pantry and freezer for any foods that may be running low, which will help prevent running out at an important mealtime and save money by not purchasing at full price. Your list can also help identify which products are on sale this week at each store where you shop.
When creating your list, try organizing it by department to quickly locate items (e.g. vegetables, canned goods or toiletries) quickly in their appropriate section of the store – this way it will make shopping much simpler while decreasing the chance that an ingredient will go forgotten!
Once you have your list, be sure to add any coupons for items on it that may help maximize savings at checkout. Also include quantities for each item so as not to end up with too many or too few of anything.
Pick a day
Planning ahead can make eating healthy much simpler, save money, and reduce impulse buys at the supermarket. If you’re new to meal planning, start off slow by creating one meal or snack a day; that way it won’t feel daunting or daunting as time goes on. Or consider signing up with a meal delivery service which offers customization and pickup at convenient times so you won’t be caught unprepared when hunger strikes!
Once you know which days will be set aside for meal prepping, the next step should be selecting an ideal date that works with both your schedule and lifestyle. Many opt for Sundays or Wednesdays; you may find another day works better for you. After choosing a date, determine how long and what exactly will be being made. For lunches and dinners specifically, focus on creating nutritious options with plenty of veggies, lean protein sources and nutritious carbohydrates as part of the daily prep task.
While meal prepping from scratch is doable on any day of the week, if you’re new to meal prepping it’s wiser to plan and cook on one specific day each week. This ensures your food will be fresh and ready to consume when needed. Furthermore, using a calendar helps you keep track of when you plan to make meals and store them in your refrigerator or freezer.
Before heading out to the store, be sure to inventory what food items are already in your pantry and refrigerator so as to create a shopping list based on those. This will prevent overbuying while simultaneously cutting down food waste.
Plan your meals
Meal planning can reduce stress during dinner preparation by helping you select recipes, create grocery lists and remember each family member’s varying likes and dislikes, plus track ingredients that need using up. Meal planning makes dinner time more relaxing; making it something you look forward to instead of dread.
Create a weekly meal plan tailored to your schedule and preferences. Though meal planning for every day of the week may not be necessary, having an idea of what food items will make sticking with your goals easier.
When planning meals, aim for a combination of lean proteins, healthy carbs and vegetables as a source of energy and essential nutrients to power through your day. Also important when setting out meal plans: finding out what’s on sale at grocery stores (either via weekly sales circulars online or an app that aggregates stores’ sales), then creating meals around ingredients which are both affordable and seasonal – such as lean proteins.
Once you’ve prepared a shopping list of what needs to be purchased, embark on your shopping expedition. Shopping based on your meal plan will help prevent overbuying food you won’t eat or spending unnecessary money, while providing all necessary ingredients for cooking your planned dishes. Take an inventory of what already exists before leaving home for store – you might be amazed at just how much there already is in your fridge and pantry!
If you find it challenging to stay organized, a digital or paper meal planner may prove beneficial. By tracking meals and recipes with ease, and using an app like Plan to Eat as part of your planning (it automatically generates your grocery list!), meal planning becomes much simpler! There are also services which offer meal planning assistance, although most charge a monthly fee; for beginners looking to start, free or low-cost options can suffice.
Meal prep refers to the practice of prepping food ahead of time in order to make lunch-making easy during busy weekdays. To do this successfully, it’s best to choose foods that keep well in the refrigerator or can be easily prepared on weeknights – this might include stews, chilis, pasta dishes, curries and casseroles as well as sheet pan meals, stir frys, burrito bowls, enchiladas salads or wraps – for instance.
After you have finalized a menu plan, it is time to begin the prepping. Make the most of your time by batching tasks when possible; for instance chopping sweet potatoes will save time by also cutting bell pepper and broccoli simultaneously; also try keeping your meal prep tools organized so you don’t end up hunting down a whisk or lid for one of your containers all of the time; apps such as AnyList may come in handy here, although pen and paper will work just fine too!
Label all of your prepared food and store it in an easily accessible place so as to prevent food waste caused by spoilage or leftovers being forgotten in the back of the fridge. Doing this will reduce food waste due to forgotten produce or leftovers being forgotten about and forgotten altogether.