Does the thought of meal planning and meal prep stress you out or sound intimidating? I know you’ve seen it all over Instagram, people with their balanced containers perfectly portioned out, ready for the whole week. This is a great accomplishment and a great goal for people to eat healthy while saving time and money, but it sometimes doesn’t always work out that way. I’ve heard time and time again how people just don’t have time to meal prep on Sunday evening or that healthy food doesn’t last all week. Below we have some tips to help make meal prepping work for you.
Keep it simple.
Successful meal planning doesn’t have to be fancy or include a page-long recipe for each meal. It can be as easy as seasoned ground meat, brown rice, and a side of veggies for a complete meal. It also doesn’t need to all be made at once. By having your meat already cooked or thawed, or rice or pasta already cooked, you’re meeting the goal of cutting some time off your nightly routine.
Thinking about Friday’s dinner on Sunday can be overwhelming. Start slow by cooking double the amount you would for dinner one night to last you the next night. Add extra amounts as you can, which will turn into extra meals. If you don’t have all of Sunday afternoon to meal prep, start with a day that works better for you. Taking 5-10 minutes to wash and cut veggies is a small step that can also save you time later. Roasting tomorrow night veggies while you already have the oven on today is another idea to save time.
Include convenience items if you need to.
Yes, you should still limit your amount of pre-seasoned, prepackaged items, but some items can help when time is in a pinch. Examples are steamer bag veggies, precooked rotisserie chicken, and salad kits.
Salads can be meal prepped too.
Mason jar salads are cute, feel free to use them if you’d like, but you can make a large salad and take from it as needed, with dressing on the side of course. Also consider pasta salads as an all in one meal with carbs, protein, and veggies. They are easy to make and can last all week as well.
Use recipes that work for you.
Crock pot meals and casserole recipes not only can provide complete meals, but they are low maintenance, easy clean up, and are easy to make in batches. Try out double swiss quiche, fall harvest pork tenderloin, crockpot buffalo chicken wraps, and eggplant pizza, just to name a few.
Easy way to add variety.
It’s good idea in theory to batch cook that recipe for Crock pot BBQ meatballs that you found on Pinterest, but you may want to think twice before prepping 3 pounds of it to last you. I prefer variety, and I get tired of foods after about the third time in a row eating them. For that example, keep your prepped items, such as protein and carb sources of meals, plain or lightly seasoned if possible. It sounds weird, but it can help stretch that 3 pounds of meatballs into different meals, such as spaghetti and meatballs, greek spaghetti squash and meatballs, or slow cooker mango habanero meatballs. Our crock pot pulled pork is another great recipe to use for meal prep for it’s light seasoning and versatility.
Remember, meal prep is intended to make your life easier, not make more work for you. What works for a single person may not work for someone with multiple kiddos. It’s all about what works for you and hopefully these tips can give you some insight into healthy, easy eating!