So I walked you through what a meal prep session looks like for me. Today, I want to give you some basic tips to a meal prepping plan that works for me.
As I mentioned, I just can’t get to the point of having every meal and snack in individual bowls in the refrigerator. Maybe it’s an organizational thing, but I think, more likely, that it’s because I like to have at least some choice of what to eat when I’m hungry. So I look at meal prepping as doing the hard and/or time consuming part of a meal ahead of time. Then, when I’m ready for dinner, all I need to do is assemble it.
Here’s how I go about that.
- Start with a menu in mind. I usually do my grocery shopping with a few meals in mind. I pick up the ingredients for those meals and then make sure I have the staples and plenty of healthy snacks for when I’m on the run.
- Cook foods that you can use in multiple different meals ahead of time. Think about all the different ways you could use one food item. If you had baked chicken on hand, what all could you do with it? Or if you had a cooked spaghetti squash, think of maybe two or three different ways you could eat it. Meal prep is a good time to cook pasta or rice, roast vegetables (like a spaghetti squash or sweet potatoes), cook your meats, hard boil eggs, or anything that will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. Sometimes, I do actually cook a pot of soup or a casserole and dish it up into individual bowls.
- Chop fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s much easier and quicker to assemble a salad if all the vegetables are cut. And wouldn’t you be more likely to grab some broccoli and hummus for a snack if you didn’t have to stop and cut up the broccoli first? Meal prep is the time I cut up any vegetables, or fruits, I have in the refrigerator–broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cantaloupe, watermelon. If I know I’ll want to use an onion in an omelet or maybe on a salad or in a wrap, I’ll cut up the onion as well. This is also a good time to wash ready to eat fruits, like grapes, cherries, apples. Find any way possible to make it quick and easy to grab and eat the healthy foods later that you have stocked in your refrigerator.
- Keep “convenience” foods stocked. Say what? Convenience foods for me are those healthy options that are ready to use, like frozen veggies, cans of wild caught tuna (no cooking needed), baby carrots (no peeling or chopping required), bags of organic spinach, cans of beans and diced tomatoes (ready to use). I always have these foods on hand. They may not be what most people would call convenience foods, but you get the point. Keep foods around that won’t wreck your healthy eating plan but require very little prep time.
So that’s it. That’s it? Yep. Meal prepping for me is essentially doing all the time consuming tasks of cooking a meal ahead of time–cooking the parts of the meal that take the longest and chopping what needs to be chopped. Then, at meal time, all that’s left is assembly. And it works for me. Having a rather loose definition of meal prepping gives me the freedom to choose what to eat when I’m hungry but also limits my choices to healthy options because I’ve decided ahead of time on a few healthy meals for the week.
Talk to me:
What does meal prepping mean to you?
What challenges to meal prepping do you have?