5 Tips to Make Meal Prepping Easier
These days meal prepping seems like the trendy thing to do. You can't scroll through your Instagram feed without seeing pictures of beautifully prepped meals neatly organized in divided containers. All the while your thinking...if only I had a couple hours to get laundry done and clean the kitchen much less prep my meals for the week. Nothing like a well-intended Instagram post to make you feel inadequate. If you've never meal prepped before it may seem like a daunting task, but I promise you the time spent prepping is a time investment with a big return. First, you'll save money. Being prepared keeps you from spending money on eating out, which is often less then optimally healthy, when you inevitably get busy during the week. For example, making salads at home for an entire week can be done for around $30, but buying a salad from a restaurant or fast food chain can cost upwards of $10 a salad, or $50 a week. Second, you will likely consume more nutrient dense meals...a win in my book! Take the home salad you make and compare it to the salad you get when eating out. Your homemade salad can include dark leafy greens, a wide variety of vegetables, a healthy protein and hopefully some healthy fat so your body can absorb all those fat-soluble nutrients in the veggies. Then take the over-priced salad you ordered out. Most likely it consists of nutrient void iceberg lettuce, a few other veggies, something that resembles a protein (but who knows what it really is) and a dressing filled with hydrogenated oils and sugar. I think you get the point. Even still, spending one to two solid hours on your already over-scheduled weekend prepping meals for the week can seem impossible, but with a few simple tricks I promise...it. is. possible!
Tip #1: A slow cooker is your new meal prepping BFF!
Using the slow cooker to prep some protein or meals will significantly cut your active time in the kitchen. You know...the old set it and forget it mentality. You can prep protein for on salads or make your favorite slow cooker dish to divide up and eat all week.
Tip #2: Double it up!
Each week try to chose one recipe that easily doubles, then double it up. Then you can take half of the meal you prepared and freeze it for another week when you don't have as much time to meal prep.
Tip #3: Put your favorites on repeat!
As you have a little meal prepping under you belt you will no doubt have a few favorite go-to recipes that are tasty and easy. Keep these recipes handy, either bookmarked on your smart phone if you use the internet to collect recipes, or marked with a real-life book mark if you use an actual recipe book (can you imagine??). That way when you have a week where you are strapped for meal prepping time, you can pull out a couple favorite recipes and get to preppin'.
Tip #4: Recruit the family!
Okay, right now you may be rolling your eyes and saying "Be serious Michelle!", but I am serious. Get your significant other or kids involved in meal prepping. Give them simple tasks that will make your job easier, like cutting veggies, pulling ingredients from the fridge or cupboards, stirring the pot on the stove, checking the oven or putting things back as you finish with them. This leaves you time to do the actual cooking. Plus teamwork makes the job quicker and easier. My husband and I have actually come to enjoy the few hours we spend together every Sunday meal prepping for the week. It's time we get to spend together and often find ourselves goofing around and enjoying our conversation with each other.
Tip #5: Take shortcuts if needed!
If your short on time or just don't want to spend as much time on meal prepping, buy some things already done for you like pre-cut veggies, frozen cauliflower rice or precooked proteins. Of course these items are often more expensive, but still less expensive then eating out all week. Just be cautious here...especially with frozen foods and precooked protein. Check labels and make sure you aren't getting a processed frankenfood. If there are more then a few things listed in the ingredients list or something you can't pronounce, leave it behind. It would be better to spend the extra 20 minutes cutting the veggies, ricing the cauliflower or cooking the protein then add processed junk to your thoughtfully prepped meals.
See...meal prepping doesn't have to just be for the Instagrammers who clearly have too much time on their hands and a mission to make us feel inadequate. It can be for you too. With a few tricks to make it easier and a commitment to giving it a try, you can become a meal prepper. Trust me, the more you do it the better you get and the more you enjoy doing it. There is nothing better then not having to stress about what your going to eat in the middle of a busy week when time has gotten away from you. Your wallet and your health will thank you!