Ready, set, eat!
Cooking and eating fresh meals every day is great and all but sometimes we all just don’t have the time nor the money to do so. Enter meal prepping, a kitchen hack that allows you to enjoy delicious homemade meals and will fit right into your budget and schedule.
This may all sound intimidating, but once you do your research and continue on this journey, you will eventually find your own rhythm and get the hang of it. To get you started, here’s a basic meal prepping guide.
What is meal prepping?
Meal prepping is as straightforward as it seems. It’s simply the act of preparing meals beforehand every week so you could simply just grab and go later. It’s ideal for those that want to save time and money and could even go as far as support your health and fitness journey as you’re preparing home-cooked meals in advance as opposed to dining out or buying take-out food for days when you’re lazy. You’re less likely to make healthier choices too since you already have a pre-cooked meal ready to go.
Step 1: Determine the meal prep method you want to go for
Depending on your schedule and your cooking style, there are different meal prep methods and variations you might prefer than the rest. It’ll ultimately be up to you to choose the one most suited to your lifestyle. Here are the following:
Batch cooking and freezing
Batch cooking is cooking a big batch of a recipe and freezing and storing them in a container which will be consumed within the week/s to come. It’s one of the most popular meal prep methods and is usually done for big batches of stews, curries, soups, rice, etc.
Individually portioned meals
This is essentially the same as batch cooking but with the added convenience since it’s ideally stored and portioned out into individual servings in individual containers to function as a grab-and-go meal.
Another meal prepping alternative is to chop and prepare your ingredients in advance so that they’re pretty much ready to be cooked. This is ideal if you prefer your meals fresh and have more time in your hands throughout the week.
Step 2: Come up with a gameplan
Create a menu and decide on meals to prepare
The goal of meal prepping is to keep things simple so you want to stick to tried and tested recipes so that it can help you save more time. You also want to take into consideration whether or not the recipes and meals you plan on cooking incorporate produce that are in season during your meal prep plans.
Allot a day for your meal prep
Most people tend to allot their meal prep days during the weekends. A well-thought-out schedule and workflow will definitely save you a lot of time in the kitchen. Make sure to stick to a schedule and make a routine out of it. Schedule the days you intend for grocery shopping, cooking, and prepping your meals.
Step 3: Shop, shop, shop!
Make a shopping list
It’s always important to come up with a list of items you need to buy before entering the grocery stores or market. We’ve all been guilty of only needing a handful of items and leaving the shops with a cart full of things we don’t need. Not only will making a list save you time by helping you navigate the stores quickly but it sure will also help you avoid making unnecessary purchases.
Step 4: Let’s get to preppin’!
Cook according to prep time
Something to keep in mind is to begin with foods that take the longest to cook or prep. You want to start with your grains or beans and have them boiling. If you also plan to do some work with the oven, you want to start pre-heating it and move from there. If any two recipes that you plan to make require similar ingredients, you want to chop and prep them at the same time as well then just divide as needed.
Pick the right containers
Containers make all the difference when it comes to food prepping. Apart from choosing one that accommodates all your needs, make sure you choose one that’s airtight, leak-proof, microwave, and freezer-safe. It will make whatever you store in the containers last longer and help you cut down on time when reheating your food.
Freeze for longer shelf life
Cool foods immediately after cooking and store them in their respective containers depending on which meal prep method you choose. Keep storage life in mind and store accordingly. Freeze foods especially stews, soups, and rice to make them last weeks and months for consumption.
A tip would be to label and date your meals. This way, you can avoid them spoiling and you’re reminded which ones you should consume first. And at the same time, it will be easier for you to keep track of what you still have.
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