If you’re looking for a great way to eat healthier or cut back on dining out, you’ll want to consider meal prepping. Taking the time to prepare meals ahead of time can bring some major benefits. Studies show that meal preppers tend to experience better food variety, improved diet quality and a healthier weight. On top of that, preparing meals in advance can help you save money, especially when you’re stuck in the habit of dining out every day.
Those who have never considered a meal prep strategy may find it a bit intimidating to get started. But with the right tips, recipes and tools — reusable freezer storage containers, anyone? — meal prepping becomes a total breeze. And when you see the results of your hard work on the scale or in your bank account, it will all be worth it.
1.Store Prepped Veggies in Reusable Storage Bags
If you love eating salads or throwing together stir-fries at lunch, reusable food storage bags are your new best friend. These eco-friendly alternatives to single-use storage bags keep your chopped veggies fresh so you can toss them over a bed of greens at lunchtime. Plus, if you opt for a freezer-friendly option, you can use them to store pre-made soups, sauces, curries, stir-fries and so much more in the perfect portions.
2.Upgrade Your Food Storage Containers
Is it just us or are store-bought food storage containers a bit of a drag? Not only do they warp in the dishwasher and stain when you fill them with pasta sauce, but many also contain harmful chemicals that you definitely don’t want mixing with your food. Instead of the flimsy plastic kind, choose BPA-free plastic bowls with lids.
3.Consider Investing in a Rice Cooker
Rice is one of the most versatile foods in the pantry, and it’s absolutely vital to a good — and affordable — meal prep strategy. But constantly boiling big batches of white or brown rice can be exhausting and time-consuming. That’s where a good rice cooker comes into play. Cook the rice beforehand to fill your containers for the week and top it off with veggies, meat, tofu, beans and more.
4.Use Freezer Trays to Store Broth, Fruit and More
Ice cube trays are for more than just freezing water! You can use freezer trays to prepare pre-made sauces, broths, curry paste, stock and more. When you want to whip up some pan-fried veggies or a last-minute curry, simply toss a cube in the frying pan before adding your veggies. You can also use freezer trays to store fresh fruit in pre-portioned servings to toss into your smoothies.
5.Don’t Be Afraid to Use Pre-Made Ingredients
Contrary to popular belief, meal prepping doesn’t have to involve hours and hours of hard work in the kitchen. There are many simple shortcuts you can take to help speed up and simplify the process. And don’t be ashamed to do it! For example, you can use store-bought rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked shredded chicken to simplify your protein prep.
6.Choose Recipes That Freeze Well
The freezer is an amazing asset to have in your meal prep toolkit. But not every recipe does well when stored in the freezer for weeks or months. Make sure to stick to foods that thrive when stashed in the freezer, such as soup, pasta, taco meat, sauce, stir-fry, chili and casseroles.
7.Try Sheet-Pan Meals
If you love the idea of filling up a few containers and storing them in the fridge for lunches during the week, consider starting with simple sheet pan recipes. This is an easy way to cook multiple meal components at the same time, such as chicken, veggies, potatoes and more.
8.Use Your Slow Cooker to Make Large Batches of Protein
The slow cooker, like the rice cooker, is an appliance that may be worth the investment if you want to get serious about meal prepping. (Tip: If you want to save space, look into appliances that do double-duty, such as a slow cooker and a rice cooker.) You can use it to easily make large batches of shredded chicken, pork or beef for tacos, chicken salad, pulled pork sandwiches, enchiladas and more.
9.Try Meal Prep Apps
Indeed, meal prepping requires quite a bit of organization. If you struggle with organizing your ideas, making weekly meal plans or creating grocery lists, you might want to consider using a meal prepping app that helps you do it all without getting overwhelmed. Apps such as Paprika, Mealime, PlateJoy and others will help you strategize a meal plan and more.
10. Always Keep the Essentials on Hand
The great thing about meal prepping is that you can tap into your pantry reserves. Keep a stash of healthy dried and canned foods on hand so you can shake things up as you go. Canned beans, rice, couscous, quinoa, nut butters, canned tuna and others keep well. You will also want to make sure you have all the essential spices, dried herbs and healthy cooking oils in your pantry so you don’t have to make frequent grocery runs.
11. Don’t Forget Breakfast and Snacks
As you get more comfortable with meal prepping, you may want to think about expanding the prep power to breakfast and snacks. Overnight oats, egg bites, muffin bites and mini snack boards are perfect for the meal prepper who wants to pre-make every meal.
12. Clean Out the Fridge and Freezer
If you do large-batch prepping all at once, you’re going to need somewhere to store your meals. Before you start your journey, consider doing a fridge and freezer cleanout to free up space. Investing in stackable containers will help ensure that you don’t cut into storage space for your fresh food and beverages.
There’s no denying it: meal prepping is great for your health. When you spend the time at the beginning of the week to map out and execute your meals, you’re less likely to veer off course and order a pizza or hit the drive-through in an act of extreme hunger. The key is to make sure you’re keeping things easy on yourself and making meals you actually want to eat.
Article Submitted By Community Writer