#MealPrep is so popular these days. Yes, prepare your meals in advance! I’ve been doing this for so long, it is completely part of my routine now. On the other hand, I know a lot of people would love to start planning their meals but don’t know how to get started. So here is my few easy steps for a successful meal prep.
Choose your meals
Every Sunday morning, as I sip my coffee and cuddle with my chubby cats, I browse through recipes and decide what I’ll prepare for the upcoming week.
- Decide how many meals you’ll need: Generally, I pick two meals (lunch and dinner) and plan to eat the same thing all week. If you have a family, you might plan a larger variety of meals. You can also plan to freeze a few servings every time you make something to offer yourself some variety in the future. Also keep in mind if you have any outings planned during the week, to take these meals out of the meal prep equation.
- Think of your possible restraints: Are you trying to follow a specific diet? Do you want to stay within a certain amount of calories each day? What is on sale at your local grocery store? Which ingredients are in season right now?
- Get inspired: Pinterest, cookbooks, Facebook and Instagram posts…there are so many places to find recipes, based on your current mood, cravings and health goals. I don’t usually browse through every source, every week as it would take forever. I tend to pick one and look for ideas there. One week might be fully inspired by my Pinterest pins, while the other, I might find inspiration in our Instant Pot cookbook.
- Enter a day of calories (optional): If you are counting calories, I would suggest entering the meals you plan to eat in a day to get an idea of your calorie count and whether you have enough or too many calories. It is better to adjust now than once all the food has been prepared!
Make it happen
Once you’ve picked your recipes, it is time to put your plan in action and get it done.
- Make your shopping list: Once you’ve picked your recipes, write down (or enter in a grocery list app) all the ingredients you’ll need. Check what you already have at home to avoid buying too much. As well as your recipe ingredients, you should also plan to buy other essentials such as your breakfast/coffee supplies and snacks (I love to cut up fruits and vegetables to snack on).
- Grocery shopping: Try your best to stick to the list. I’m not that great at it so I really try my best to put my blinders on when I’m at the store to avoid unnecessary purchases. I’m not always successful but I sure try my best.
- Put your favorite kitchen appliances to use: I know I can make a roast in the oven but if I also have the option to make it in the Instant Pot, and save a lot of time, then it’s a no-brainer. Use your spiralizer to make veggie noodles, blend your soup until it is nice and creamy.
- Plan your cooking times: While one dish is cooking or baking, get started on the next one, or start portioning your snacks for the week.
- Portion everything: Especially if you are counting calories, do not trust yourself to properly portion your meals at the end of each day. Portioning everything in advance makes the calorie-counting much easier and helps people like me who can have a bit of a problem with portion-control when mentally hungry. By the time you’re done, you should be able to visualize all your meals. All week, you will easily be able to grab a meal, limiting the temptations to eat out, and saving you time when you come home from work tired and hungry.
While most of the meal planning can be done with whatever you have on hand (an InstantPot is awesome but not having one will not prevent you from being able to plan your meals, let’s be real.), one important thing to have is a variety of containers for your pre-portioned meals. There is no perfect answer and I personally have a variety of containers to use, depending on what I make. My favorite containers to use are Bonne Maman jars. Run them through the dishwasher to get the stickers off and to get them a good cleaning, and you get yourself a growing set of soup containers! I almost solely buy Bonne Maman jam now, not only because I love the taste, but also because I know I will be able to reuse the containers.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to meal prep?