It is becoming increasingly common for people to work extraordinarily long hours. This means that there is a lot less time to spend cooking healthy meals, resulting in people buying fast food and all sorts of other takeaway options. So what can be done? Meal prepping is your friend. It might seem a little bit daunting, but trust us, it isn’t. It’ll quickly turn into a habit and leave you asking yourself why you didn’t start doing it sooner. Here are a few ways we recommend you approach meal prep.
These days, there’s a subscription box for everything – even food! From simple meals to smoothie subscription boxes, there is so much variety. You can pick up a box based on your needs and the best thing is that most of them come pre-portioned, so that there is no waste and you don’t have to spend time trying to guess how much of what needs to go into a recipe. You can also choose how many a box needs to feed and from a variety of fun recipes too, taking the stress out of planning what you’re going to eat that week. Many subscription boxes give you the option to pick your delivery day and the recipes tend to be super healthy and super yummy.
If you don’t have the time to prepare a hot meal, try planning ahead with a few more snacky or “mini meal” options. Things like a container of mixed fruit, cheese, and crackers (basically anything you’d find on a charcuterie board) are small, hassle-free things to eat if you’re pressed for time. Some research even suggests that eating several smaller meals throughout the day is healthier for your body. Keep small. Easy to snack on things in mind when you go grocery shopping because this could mean less prep time for you, too. Buying ready-made fruit cups, sandwiches, granola bars, cold meats, etc, all go a long way to making meal prep a lot easier and saving you time for the things that require your attention.
If mini meals don’t appeal to you, that’s fine. Another option you should look into is batch cooking. This is when you prepare large quantities of individual foods, such as rice, chicken, veg, tofu, etc, and use them to construct different meals throughout the week. Being able to just throw a meal together in minutes because all of the main components are already cooked is great if you don’t have time to spend cooking.
When food prepping it can be easy to focus on certain food groups and neglect others. Whether you’re preparing food for a week or just a few days, you need to include each food group in your prepping. Focus on things such as fruit and veg, protein and healthy fats, whole grains, and legumes, while limiting refined grains, sugars, and excessive amounts of salt. If a recipe is missing something, you can always add it as a side, or modify the recipe for a group to be included.
When doing your grocery shopping, always shop with a list. This saves you time and helps you avoid buying things you don’t have a specific plan to cook as well as produce you don’t need. You need to be especially aware of this when you shop for your groceries online. While this is a more convenient option, as you don’t have to leave your home and your groceries are delivered to your door at a designated time, there are plenty of “specials” that can distract you. Save your time and money by shopping for what you need with a list, rather than being seduced by promotions.
If you decide what you’re going to make for dinner while you’re at work and come home to find that you don’t have half of the ingredients you need it can be incredibly frustrating. Keeping your pantry well stocked is another way to successfully prep your meals. Having pantry staples on hand streamlines your meal prep process, especially when you keep stock of healthy, versatile ingredients. Your pantry should have the following, whole grains (such as rice, oats, whole-wheat pasta), legumes (beans, lentils), oil (avocado, olive), low-salt canned goods (fruit, tuna, chopped tomatoes, corn, etc), and fresh goods that can be stored there. When you keep your pantry stocked you don’t limit yourself to what you can make., which reduces stress and meal planning frustrations.
Getting into the healthy habit of meal planning can have a seriously positive impact on your life as well as how you spend your time in the kitchen. Starting out slow by implementing a few of these suggestions at a time can make a serious difference and help you prep your meals better. As you continue to prep, you’ll find that certain meals and ingredients prep better than others and will eventually find the best recipes and strategies for you. Meal prepping saves you time and allows you to spend that time as you please.