Meal prepping can save you time and money, but did you know it can reduce your stress? Indeed, having go-to meals throughout the week can help you feel more productive. The money you save will also ease your stress when you look at your bank account each week. It’s a winning solution from all angles.
In this guide, we will provide some meal prep tips to keep your stress to a minimum.
What Is Meal Prepping?
Meal prepping is the process of making meals in advance. Some people do this for portion control. Others do it for convenience. Others prepare meals to ensure they have access to healthy food throughout the week. The reasons to meal prep are endless, and the best news is, anyone can do it!
Choose Recipes You’ll Actually Want to Eat
If you meal prep a week of food that you don’t like, it’s going to go to waste. Inevitably, you will find an excuse to grab food on the way. As you search through recipes, think about the foods you actually enjoy eating. If there is a frozen meal you love, try recreating it with fresh ingredients. If there is a style of food you love, look for corresponding recipes. As long as you select food that will save well in the fridge, you’ll have meals to look forward to.
Note: It’s also important to choose recipes you’ll want to make. If you know you’re not a fan of cooking, don’t choose a multi-hour meal from scratch. Select recipes that accommodate your taste, your skillset and your overall availability.
Decide Which Meals You Want to Prepare
Do you want to make breakfast, lunch and dinner, or only a couple of meals? You may prefer eating a protein bar for breakfast, so there’s no need to prepare that. You may get free lunch from work, so all you need to focus on is dinner. Think about which meals you would like to eat throughout the week so you can make a solid plan.
Be Realistic with Portions
Prepare the right amount of food to accommodate your recipes. Don’t make 8 portions of a recipe that you’ll only eat 4 times. Conversely, you won’t want to make 2 portions of a meal you’ll want all week long. Think about how much food you will need for each meal and how many times you will want that meal in the week.
Dedicate Multiple Hours to Meal Prep
Plan your meal prepping for a day with plenty of free time. You will probably spend at least two hours cooking, separating and cleaning. You will be saving time in the long run because you won’t have to worry about cooking throughout the week.
Make Versatile Ingredients Instead of Whole Meals
If you have a hard time eating the same meal several times over, consider cooking ingredients instead. For example, you could cook two pounds of ground beef. Then eat the ground beef in tacos, spaghetti, beef stroganoff, nachos, and any number of other dishes. Cook versatile ingredients that can be used in many different meals. Then all you have to do is assemble those dishes when the time comes.
Plan for Your Eat-Out Meals
If you know you’re going to eat out a few times during the week, plan for that. For instance, you may have family dinners on Friday. You don’t need to prep a dinner meal for Friday then. If you think you’ll get tired of eating pre-made meals for lunch, allow yourself one or two lunches from your favorite places. You don’t have to avoid eating out entirely. Meal prepping just encourages you to eat out less.
Expect a Learning Curve
If you’ve never meal prepped before, it may take a few weeks to get into a routine. You’ll need to figure out what your potions look like, what you actively want to eat, what saves well (and what doesn’t), and what types of recipes work best for your lifestyle. With a little planning, you can create a week of stress-free meals in your fridge.