Looking for a great way to take the guess work out of the never-ending questions what’s for lunch or dinner? Then you should try meal prepping. When you first check out meal prepping it can seem like a lot of work but when you break it down into steps it really isn’t complicated. Check out my 7 meal prep tips below to get the most out of your meal prepping.
1. Take Inventory of Your Fridge, Freezer & Pantry
When you first start meal prepping the amount of groceries you need to buy can seem overwhelming. I recommend that you always take inventory of your fridge, freezer and pantry prior to choosing recipes to ensure you are using up what you have and not wasting food. Over the years I have learned to double check what I have at home as it is really annoying opening the vegetable drawer to find that you already had carrots or celery and it can definitely be a waste of money.
2. Choose Your Recipes For Prepping & Grocery Shop
Once you’ve done your inventory it makes it so much easier to decide what to make. When meal prepping for the first time you may need to do some research into recipes, I recommend The Ultimate Meal Prep Cookbook – check out my review here. Don’t forget when making your grocery list to sort it by like items such as fruits with fruits and meats with meats, it will make your grocery trip so much faster.
3. Schedule a Morning or Afternoon to Complete the Prepping
A truly simple step of meal prepping is deciding when you want to do the prep. Some people love to do it early on a Sunday morning and others prefer the evening. For me I love to do it the day after I have done my grocery shopping to make sure I have everything I need, and nothing goes bad before cooking. Make sure you allow yourself a few hours to get everything done. The more often you meal prep the faster you will get.
4. Gather All Necessary Cooking and Storage Items Prior to Prepping
Before starting your meal prepping gather all of the pots, pans, utensils and storage containers that you will need. It will make it easier when everything you need is at your fingertips. Plus you will be able to plan which meals you will want in each type of containers. I love these containers* or these glass ones* for meal prepping.
5. Review the Recipes Prior to Starting to Decide What Order to Cook
Once you have everything together, I suggest you reread the recipes one more time and decide which recipes take the longest. To me the best way to meal prep is to start with what will take the longest. If you are going to cook chicken breast in the oven you may want to start with that first while you get all the vegetables cut up for cooking.
6. Make Large Batches of Items Needed for Multiple Recipes
A great way to make the most of your meal prep time is to make big batches of items that can be used for multiple recipes. I love to use an Instant Pot such as this one* for things like rice, quinoa and even hard-boiled eggs.
7. Remember to Allow Cooked Items to Cool Slighty Before Storing
The most important step to remember when meal prepping is to allow the food to cool slightly before putting it in the fridge. If you don’t allow it to cool you will create a lot of condensation in the meal prep containers plus it’s not good for all of the other cold items in your fridge when you put hot food away. I like to let the food cool without the lids on for about 15 – 30 minutes and then put it all away in the fridge.
Meal prepping can seem daunting but remember to just take it one step at a time. The reward is worth the effort to not have to worry about your lunches or dinners (whatever you are prepping) for the week. A big advantage I’ve found with meal prepping is that I am less likely to eat junk food after a long day. In the past I have had cereal for dinner but having a ready-made balanced meal I can pop in the microwave helps curb that temptation. What are your best tips for meal prepping?