Whether you’re a homemaker or have a career, cooking a meal from scratch always takes a decent amount of time. It can be hard to get into cooking mode, especially if you’re tired and frustrated after a long day of work or home chores. Eating out or ordering food isn’t always a viable option; that habit can get quite expensive and isn’t the healthiest choice either.
All these reasons are why meal prepping can be the answer to all your cooking woes. When you’ve got this skill down pat, you can buy ingredients in bulk, cook them in a healthy way, and use them for quick meals whenever they’re needed. This will allow you to save money and also ensure that your family’s getting the right nutrients in their food.
Meal prepping in itself can be quite an overwhelming task, so here are some tips to help you meal prep like a pro:
Making Meal Plans
Making a meal plan for the whole week is the first step towards meal prepping. If you don’t know what you’re going to cook, you wouldn’t know what ingredients to buy and prepare beforehand. Plus, having a menu for each day will cut down on your thinking and planning time. Meal prepping is all about moving fast and shaving off the seconds!
You might want to set a theme for each day to makes things easier, such as having vegetarian options on Wednesday or homemade pizza on Fridays. Take a look at these quick vegan/vegetarian ideas for more inspiration (we will link it to Quick Vegan/Vegetarian Meal Ideas)
Also, when you pick your recipes, choose those with basic ingredients and the staples you already have. You don’t want to spend extra money trying out new variations of spices and sauces, so save those for days when you’re in the mood to experiment.
Schedule the Time
Take your meal prepping time very seriously. Set an alert for it on your phone, put it on the calendar, and get it out of the way as soon as possible. The most obvious days for meal prepping are the weekends, with Sunday being the most logical choice. However, whatever time slot seems to be the most convenient should do.
You can also have an accountability partner for your meal prepping time. Call a friend over so that the chopping, boiling, stewing, and storing don’t seem too monotonous.
We usually have the same things for breakfast every day, so it makes sense to prep for this important meal. Stressing out about breakfast first thing in the morning could lead to unhealthy choices or skipping the meal altogether. If you don’t want that to happen, look up recipes for overnight oats, egg muffins, readymade pancake mix, and other ideas that could make breakfast a breeze.
Shopping in Bulk
It’s usually cheaper to buy your seeds, beans, nuts and grains in bulk. Head for the large bins at your grocery store instead of the packaged items. This will help you try out new items and save on the stuff you get for everyday meals.
Get a Slow Cooker
A slow cooker is a versatile tool for meal preppers, so you might want to get one and learn how to use it. You can make all kinds of hot, delicious meals inside this without having to worry about overcooking, burning, or a lack of flavor. For most recipes, you might just have to toss in all the ingredients, plug in the cooker, and forget about the whole thing until several hours later. This way, you’ll have a large amount ready to store without much manual labor.
There are also several other smart products for saving time that might save the day. Check them out and see if they fulfill any pressing need (link it to Smart Products for Saving Time)
Just because you’re prepping meals, it doesn’t mean that everything must be made from scratch. You can buy cauliflower rice instead of going through the hassle of making your own. Rotisserie chicken, canned beans, zoodles, and precut vegetables could all cut down on your meal prepping time.
If you don’t want to spend extra money on prepped ingredients, get your family together for the grunt work. With everyone peeling and chopping together, you’d soon make light work of those piles.
Getting the Right Equipment
You’ll need the right tools for proper meal prepping, but that doesn’t have to mean anything fancy. Some people may rely on meal prepping apps to sort out this task, but we feel that the containers are the most important deal. Once you have a large pot and set aside the time to pre-cook while you can, you need the proper containers to store those ingredients.
It’s preferable if the containers for your meal prep were made of glass. BPA-free plastic is another option, but we don’t want to take any risk of chemicals leaching into our food. This is why we’ve reviewed the top three choices for containers available on Amazon right now:
If you want to get all your meal prep containers in one place, there’s no safer option than Pyrex. These containers come in multicolored options and have 18 pieces in one set. They might cost a fair bit, but it’s an investment that can last you a lifetime. There are also options for more or fewer units according to your needs.
Each container here is made with Pyrex glass, which means you can put it in the dishwasher, the microwave, the over, and the freezer. While the lids might not be suitable for the microwave or oven, they are BPA-free and can be washed in the top rack of the dishwasher.
With these glass containers, you’d be assured of a healthy meal prepping experience. These are non-porous, so they won’t absorb food particles, nor will they be prone to stains. With the airtight lids, you can be sure of the food staying fresh for a long time. If there are any complaints, the 2-years limited warranty will hopefully take care of them.
If you’d like containers in the same sizes for portioning out your ingredients, this set might be the perfect solution. There are ten in a set, so you’ll have plenty of space for everything. Having the same container size is perfect for getting the portions right and also good for storage purposes.
Each container here also has its own glove-like silicone casing, which adds traction. This way, we can be sure that the box won’t slip on the counter or table. You can also get these containers in a set of six if ten seems a bit much.
The BPA-free glass material will ensure that no toxins leech into our food. Every part of also dishwasher safe. If you remove the lid, the rest of the container is also safe for the oven. However, we recommend removing the silicone sleeve before putting the container in the microwave. Each lid also has latches on it, so we can ensure that our food is safely locked away. This is a great boon if we have to take 0ur meals with us on the go.
These meal prep containers are part of the Bento Box series, which is a known brand for parents everywhere. These boxes are safe for the dishwasher and microwave along with being reusable and stackable. While they are made of plastic, it’s the durable, BPA-free kind. The trusted brand name means that we don’t have to worry about those nasty toxins in our food.
There are three compartments inside each box, so you can use them for different ingredients and also for putting a final meal together. What’s more, they’re very cost-effective, so it might be a good idea to buy them in bulk and use them for the long term.
The great thing about these boxes is that you can use them for meal prepping as well as for lunches to take on the go. These will help you portion out your meals and make sure you have a healthy balance even when you’re commuting or at work.
Meal prepping saves time, money, and a lot of spent effort throughout the week. While the tips above certainly come in handy, it’s your discipline and will that can get you through this task each week. If you’re just starting out, don’t be afraid to make changes according to your preferences and needs.
Of course, meal prepping does have its downsides. You and the rest of the household might get tired of eating the same meals every week. Change things up with different spices and condiments if this is so, or just take a break from the routine every once in a while. You can also look up how to make easy and simple desserts for a special treat every now and then.