Meal Prep 101
What is meal prepping and why do it?
Meal prepping is where you make meals or prepare food ahead of time
Saves money: Not wasting ingredients, buy only what you need and reduce $ on eating out
Saves time: Investment in time short term, but saves time long term throughout the week
Reduce stress: One less thing to worry about
Makes healthier habits easier to sustain: When you have healthier options in your environment it’s easier for you to maintain your habits.
What foods are best used for meal prep?
Cooked grains, beans, lentils, meat, raw vegetables, soups and stews are best for meal prepping because they can last in the fridge or freezer for a long period at a time and still keep their texture.
Sauces are best kept on the side and put on meals in the moment you eat them. Same goes for avocado. This helps avoid making things soggy or go bad faster
How do you want to approach meal prepping?
1) Buffet Style
- Pre chop and wash veggies
- Pre cook or marinate your meats
- Pre cook your grains
- Make one vinaigrette
This allows for variety, where you can easily assemble meals together without much thought. Examples: Salads or quickly baking protein and veggies
2) Complete Week
You choose to batch cook meals for an entire week and pre portion them out. This option is the best for those who have absolutely no time to spare and would like to save themselves from any decision making.
If this is an option you feel would work best I suggest making
1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner and 2 snacks for the week. Then switching up your meals for the week after. This way you get variety in your nutrients as well.
3) Batch Cook
Everytime you cook something new you double or triple the recipe so that you can use it for leftovers. This can be for one meal or all three main meals of the day. Then every three or two days you repeat.
Here you don’t necessarily pre portion out your meals ahead of time. All you need to do is portion what you want in the moment and reheat if needed.
4) Start with one
Choose one meal each week that you have trouble with the most. For me that looks like Dinner. I find my laziness takes over at the end of the day and I want to do what’s easiest.
Batch cook that one meal to have on hand for the week and pre portion if you’d like as well.
This is also a great way to dive into learning new recipes and getting yourself more comfortable with cooking. If you create a new recipes each week, by one year you would have 52 recipes your familiar with!
What do I need in order to meal prep?
Now that you have a better idea as to how you want to approach meal prepping you can review what sort of cooking supplies you need. These are the basic tools I find most helpful:
- Blender/Food Processor
- Stove top & Oven
- Baking Dishes
- Baking Tray
- Cutting board
- Large skillet
- Quality Knives
- Glass containers in varying sizes
Mason jars for soups/stews, Large/medium container for meals and grains, snack sized container for snacks and chopped veggies/fruit
Glass containers are great because they’re dishwasher, freezer and microwave friendly. Plus plastic typically contains BPA, a known hormone disruptor. So glass is a healthier option.
How do I actually do it ?
1) Schedule it
Take into account when to plan your meals, grocery shop and actually meal prep. Think of the time it’ll take and schedule that in.
2) Write it down
Write down what meals you’ll create, how many batches and the associated grocery list with that. This will save you time in the grocery store, while helping you stay organized and focused.
3) Clear your kitchen
Before cooking clean your kitchen space. Tidy up the counter, get rid of dishes in the sink, empty your dishwasher and take out the trash. This way you’ll have room to work with, cleaning up after the meal prep will be easier and you won’t have a disaster of a mess
4) Multi Task
If your planning to batch cook more than one meal, the best way to save time will be through multi tasking. For example, if food is cooking in the oven, you can cook something on the stove and while those are being made you can chop vegetables. Just remember to have timers on your phone to check in on things and remind you when to take stuff out.
5) Have Fun
Cutting, chopping and cooking can be meditative but it can also get boring too.. so spice it up!! Take this time to listen to some music, a podcast or an audio book.
The other option to all of this would be investing in a meal prep service. Which would be the easiest and most time saving option. So if you know you’re too busy to even think about meal prep or completely get lost in the kitchen I strongly recommend Ivana’s services: www.evabee.com . She’s a personal chef in Ottawa. She can come to your home, batch cook meals for the week and customize everything to your needs!