I totally get it. Someone encourages you to add another task to your already busy week, and you balk. You have SO much to do and so little time to do it. How dare someone urge you to pile things right on top of that, promising only positive results? The NERVE.
There are some weeks when I STILL feel this way about meal prepping. Resentful that meal prep is important, and that it is necessary. I thought to myself – what sort of article would I have liked to read about the meal prep process back when I was getting started?
Well, here it is: Meal Prep in 5 Easy Steps. I want you to try this out for just one week. You are going to select either Sunday or Monday afternoon to get it done, and before that, you’ll need to make your regular grocery shopping excursion. Easy-peasy. I promise.
Step 1: Write Out 2 Meals
You are going to plan out 2 3-course meals. That’s it. Each meal will incorporate your carbohydrates, your proteins, and your fats. Keeping this generic means you have the option of going plant-based, or gluten-free, or whatever floats your boat.
Make sure these meals sound good, because you will be making enough to eat it twice – or, for your family to eat it twice. Of course, we can always reshape the leftovers into something entirely different, but we’ll get into that down below.
Here are some sample meals for lunch and dinner:
Pot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots
Roasted Turnips, Sweet Potatoes
Salad with Tahini Lemon Dressing
Sample Breakfast Meals:
Wonderful – Step 1 is complete!
Step 2: Prep For Your Prep
Yes, you have to prep to prep! Step 2 encompasses both the grocery shopping and the washing and cutting of your fresh foods. If you need to brine some meat, or chop some garlic, or freshen up some parsley, all of that stuff – get it done beforehand. Have everything organized and ready to go for meal prep the next day, the next afternoon, etc.
Step 3: Strategize Your Meal Prep
This is a day-of task. Utilize the tools in your kitchen. Plan for the item going in the oven, the crock pot, the Instant Pot, the broiler, the microwave, or the stove top. The item that will take longest to cook should be started first.
Step 4: Cooking & Baking
Clear your kitchen and/or pantry space of distractions. Send the kids with the hubby to the park, or begin your work when baby is napping or has gone to bed. You don’t want tiny fingers reaching for hot stoves or trying to crack the eggs in your muffin recipe.
I want you to get the following done: 2 starches, like pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa, mac and cheese, or sweet potatoes. I also want you to commit to making two veggies. Steam broccoli, roast potatoes, boil corn on the cob. Go for whatever is in season and on sale.
Step 5: Organize Ready Food
A lot of people wrap things up after step 4, and I want you to go one further. Place the food in serving bowls, or oven-safe containers if they will need to be reheated. If you are making your meals for work, place them in the
individual containers, seal, label, and into the fridge or freezer they go. You want meal prep to be a one-stop-shop that eliminates as much time as possible during the week.
I have a 1 and a 4-year-old, so I make virtually nothing complicated. If I attempt a 10-ingredient zucchini fritter dish and my kids don’t eat it, I’m looking at a ton of waste. No thanks. But if I’ve roasted some cauliflower and they’re not feeling it that night, I’m wrapping it to serve the next day or the day afterward.
Their appetites change every day, and usually within a matter of hours. This formula ensures we use the food we buy. (I also meal prep certain things just for myself since I work from home. If they want to eat it too… great!)
I’m sure you still have some questions regarding meal prep, and I’m here to answer them. Have you tried it before? Did it save you time in the long run? What keeps you from doing it again?