How to Get Started With Meal Prepping
Sometimes it feels like meal prep can be a chore! But, when I have meals all set and ready to go for the upcoming week I start to notice that my level of efficiency goes up during the day. In the mornings I find that I’m not worrying about what meals I’m going to be eating throughout the day, all I have to do is grab and go. Now that I work mostly from home this helps speed up my day significantly. I am honestly doing more things now than I was when I had a 9 to 5. #mindblown
Here are a few tips that I pulled together over time, that are helpful for me. In the past I have lived with small kitchens, so being especially intentional going into meal prep time is super helpful in maximizing counter space.
This is the third and final blog post in this series. If you have not had a chance to read the first two posts, I want to invite you to read more about “The Case for Meal Planning” and “How Much Does A Dozen Eggs Cost?”.
Reference your inventory list
I mentioned in my previous post on this same topic that one tool I like to use when pulling together the recipes I will be using in meal prep is to take an inventory of all the items I already have on-hand. So, before I even know what recipes I am cooking, it’s crucial for me to know what I have on-hand. This especially becomes helpful when I am focusing on reducing my grocery budget. For example, during the month of September I am giving myself $25 per week to spend on groceries. After moving during the month of August, I was able to stock up on some items at Costco, so I should be able to stick with this budget this month - I’ll let you know how it goes!
Freezing leftover prepped meals, fruits, and veggies
When it comes time to actually meal prepping, I want to make sure that there’s nothing leftover in the fridge. So, if it’s gross then it does get tossed, but if there’s a stray meal prep ready to go that has not been eaten I usually put this in the freezer to eat at a later time. I also do this with veggies and fruits - although I do rinse and chop these down to put in a freezer baggies first. This simple act actually accomplishes two things. First, it helps me stay on budget by keeping things on-hand and stocked up in my freezer. Second, it helps to reduce my overall food waste. By creating a plan for everything purchased at the grocery store this also helps reduce my impact on this planet.
The goal is progress over perfection
I don’t want you to think that I am 1000% perfect every week. There are definite ebbs and flows to this process, and I am for sure not perfect. But, I firmly believe that we all could take a few baby steps toward progress every week. If you mess up one week, just know it’s more about getting the process down, then it is about being perfect.
Here’s a rough outline of my meal prep routine. I typically try to stick with this schedule, but there may be fluctuations depending on the week, and my work load. This is a schedule that I have developed over time (years, really!)... So, it works for me! You may find that another process and schedule works better for you, and that’s great! For me, spreading out the work like this allows me space and time to think through everything.
Thursday: Inventory check and fridge clean out
Friday: Recipe and meal plan for the next week
Saturday: Grocery delivery or shopping
Sunday: Meal prepping
Meal Prep Tips:
Have a plan: If you need to keep the family busy with other tasks, make sure everyone’s on-board with the schedule as it usually takes between 1.5 hours to 2 hours to complete, including clean-up.
Start with a clean kitchen: This is a tip I’ve learned about from Workweek Lunch, and I couldn’t agree more.
If you’re doing multiple recipes at once make sure you know which order things will go in.
Pick out your pots and pans in advance, and make sure they’re ready to use.
Figure out a place to hold prepped food: It’s important to cut up all the veggies you’ll be using first as this speeds up the cooking process.
Figure out a place for your meal preps to cool down when they’re done: Don’t be afraid to utilize plates and kitchen tools over again. Just wipe it off with a towel, and you’re good to go! Be careful with raw meat though, always.
Clean as you go: By the time you reach the last recipe, it’ll be smooth sailing.
Final step is to be proud of your finished work!
When all is said and done you know that you have time to do other things throughout the week like spending time with loved ones, watching a good movie, or simply relaxing and enjoying your life!
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