If you’ve been on social media lately, and you’re the kind of person that follows a bunch of food accounts, you may notice that “meal prep” is all the rage. Why? Because it makes your busy life easier and more nutritious. How? Well, instead of constantly turning to takeout options and/or spending every morning, afternoon and night creating a new meal every time you’re hungry, meal prepping provides you with prepared food for the week or for a few days. It also takes away the humming and hawing about what to have for breakfast/lunch/dinner every day which can waste valuable time. Having prepared, healthy food sets you up for success and cuts out the possibility of resorting to poor food options. The photo above is actually a collection of meal prepped foods that I had on hand in the fridge. I was able to make a fresh salad by picking and choosing a few of the prepped options I had, threw them on some arugula. It was delicious and I put it together in about 5 minutes.
So, how do you meal prep so that you can take hold of more time in your day and nourish yourself? Read on to learn how!
1. Keep it Simple
It may sound like meal prepping involves creating a whole feast, but that’s really not necessary. The best rule of thumb for meal prep is to “keep it simple”. If you’re new to meal prepping, I recommend starting small. Choose 2-3 recipes to start and focus on recipes that don’t involve elaborate instructions. One-pan recipes are easy to start with as they involve putting all of your ingredients on a single pan/cookie sheet and roasting it in the oven. This could include something like 6 chicken breasts, 2 sliced sweet potatoes and a pile of green beans on one pan. This would be considered “one recipe”, and by adding in a second similar recipe, you could potentially have 6 meals prepped for you and your partner, 12 meals if you’re just cooking for yourself!
Meal prep doesn’t only need to include preparing recipes. Keeping clean, freshly chopped vegetables in your fridge for snacks and salads is also very helpful. Pre-chopping carrots, celery, and cucumbers is a good place to start and you can use those to dip into hummus or guacamole as a snack, throw them into a stir for just eat them on their own.
2. Schedule and Plan
The key to making meal prep a reality in your life is to schedule and plan for it! Choose 1 or 2 days out of the week that are less hectic in your schedule. Choose your recipes for the week, look at what you have and what you need to buy, buy the ingredients either online through a grocery delivery service or go to the grocery store, and get cracking in the kitchen! Depending on whether you have help or not, you should expect to carve out at least 3-4 hours for the whole process. Grocery gathering may take about 1 hour, and the cooking and storing should take another 2-3 hours. This may seem like a long time, but consider that this is the only prep you’re doing for about a week’s worth of food! Through that lens, it’s really not that long at all! Consider that you could potentially spend that amount of time every day making your meals…and who wants to do that?!
Once you get the hang of meal prep, you’ll start to realize what your favourite staples are. Staples are the ingredients that you have on hand all the time. These can be dry goods like nuts, seeds, grains; frozen meats and fish/seafood like whole chickens and salmon fillets; and so on. Breakfasts can be done in minutes by having yogurt and adding frozen berries, hemp hearts and nuts. Lunch prep can also take a few minutes by grabbing a little bit of everything that you’ve cooked and packing different combinations of your prepped food to change up the flavours and remove monotony.
4. Switch it Up
Meal prepping may sound boring because it sounds like you’re just eating the same thing for a week–but that’s not exactly the case! It’s only boring if you make it boring. This comes back to keeping a variety of staples on hand. Let’s imagine that you’ve spiralized a bunch of zucchini noodles and you cooked up both salmon and chicken breasts. Those noodles can be dressed in pesto, tomato sauce or added to a green salad with a dijon lemon dressing. Salmon or chicken can also make an appearance in any of those scenarios as well. See how you can easily switch up the flavours by using the same main ingredients? Don’t be nervous to get creative with your meals. Throw conventions out the door and try new flavours.
Thankfully, we are surrounded by different kinds of food inspiration! If you’re ever stuck on what to eat, you can always check out your’s truly’s instagram 😉 or simply search through different hashtags on instagram like #wholefoods , #veganfoods , and so on, to get different ideas. I also find inspiration by looking through different food magazines and trying to see how I can make the recipes healthier but just as delicious! And, don’t forget about all of those cookbooks you own! When was the last time you flipped through them?
Ok, that sums it up! It’s time to get going on your meal prep! Be sure to tag me @megan_rhn so I can see your meal prep creations.