By taking some time on a Saturday to make a meal plan for the week and then go grocery shopping, I not only form a plan for my week, but I save money! When you sit down and plan out what you’re going to eat for the week, you take the guess work out of grocery shopping and cut down on impulse buys.
Sundays are typically my prep days. I take the plan I’ve created along with the recipes and go to work in the kitchen. On average, this takes me about 1-2 hours (including clean up) depending on what I am making for the week. That’s not a lot of time when you consider that you’re prepping your entire week. By taking the time to prep, you’ll also never stand in front of the fridge, staring inside of it, wondering what you’ll eat when you’re hungry. That’s in itself makes prepping totally worth it!
Here are some Meal Prep 101 tips to get started:
1. Find what works for YOU. Some people will shop and prep all of their food for the week in one afternoon. Others find it more manageable to prep the night before for the next day. Meal prepping is all about making YOUR life easier, so experiment and see which method fits your lifestyle best. Personally, I prep enough food on Sundays to make it through to at least Wednesday or Thursday, then I repeat.
2. It’s okay to start small. If you’re new to food prep, begin with prepping just one series of meals. Think about which meal for the day is your toughest (which one will you most likely skip or grab drive-thru for?) and start there. If breakfast is your downfall, consider whipping up a batch of these Egg Muffins or making some Overnight Oats. Does lunch send you to the drive-thru? Consider prepping some Mason Jar salads or a big pot of Turkey Chili to get you through the week. Once you have mastered that one meal, add on one more!
3. Prep BEFORE putting the groceries away. If you begin your prep work as soon as you get home from the grocery store, you can save yourself the hassle of having to put everything away twice! You’ll be more motivated to prep foods while they’re still sitting on the counter then you will to have to pull them all out again after you just put them away. I like to wash and chop my vegetables, breakdown family packs of meat (buying family packs is a money saver!) and ration out nuts, fruits and other snack items. By doing this I have snacks and recipes ingredients ready to go when I’m hungry!
4. Keep your meal plan and recipes within arms reach. This is a habit I got into during my first round of 21 Day Fix. I began hanging my meal plan for the week right on my fridge so I could see it whenever I walked into the kitchen. This kept me organized and on track. If I was hungry, my next meal with right in front of my face (and prepped and waiting in the fridge) and it allowed me to double check I had everything I needed for the next days meals. (Let’s face it…sometimes we think we have garlic or chili powder but we don’t!)
5. This is not an all-or-nothing task. Don’t think you need to wash, chop and pre-cook everything for an entire week in one shot. It’s best to ease yourself into this new habit. Maybe your first step with be making a meal plan and just shopping for it. Next you’ll conquer that one troublesome meal and then maybe you’ll graduate into a half week prep. Prepping and portioning food for cooking later, or even for one weeknight meal is better than doing nothing at all.
If there is one thing I’ve learned over my last five years of trial and error, it’s that mastering one small change before moving on to the next one is key. When you try to change too much at once, you can become overwhelmed and give up on everything.
Some items you’ll need to successfully meal prep:
- Glass or plastic containers with lids: Wide mouth mason jars are great options. If you opt for plastic, make sure they’re BPA-free!
- Ziptop bags: These come in many different sizes and they even make colored sandwich size ones which are PERFECT for 21 Day Fix.
- Basic Cookware: A skillet, soup pot and at least 2 saucepans should be enough for you to prep. Baking trays /cupcake pans will also come in handy.
- Measuring Cups/Spoons: These are needed for most recipes and will be important for portion control.
- Knives/Vegetable Peeler/Grater: Those veggies aren’t going to chop and peel themselves!
- Aluminum Foil/Plastic Wrap/Parchment Paper: These help to cut down on clean up and as well as storing your prepped meals.
Of course as you embrace working in the kitchen more, you’ll look to add items like a good blender (not the $10 one you can get at Target when Back-to-School dorm life items roll around) and food processor (doesn’t have to be top of the line) as well as a cast-iron pan, griddle or grill pan. Oh and a zoodle maker would be good too….if you’re into that type of thing. The world of kitchen gadgets is never ending and I’d own a lot more if I had a larger kitchen!
I could go on and on about meal prep, seriously! There is so much that can be discussed, but I think this is a really good starting point. I can always do another post with some step-by-step advice as well as some meal prep hacks if you’re short on time. If you would like more info on meal prepping, comment below and let me know!