Food prepping can be a lifesaver when you have a busy, chaotic schedule. It gives you a way to have healthy, homemade meals ready in minutes when you don’t have time to spend in the kitchen. If you don’t have the energy to fix a meal after a long day, using food and meal prep tips will help you know what to do in advance.
I started food prepping a few years ago when I went back to work full-time. After a long day at work, I found myself eating convenience foods or fast food instead of cooking. It didn’t take me long to realize this was an expensive and unhealthy option, so I started my journey into the meal prepping world.
Now, after much trial and error, I have figured out what works and doesn’t work for me when food prepping. My college daughter also loves the premade meals. She takes them to school and work every day and loves that she’s saving money and eating healthy. I would encourage you to try your hand at preparing meals in advance. It’s such a great way to be in control of your eating and not let fatigue and hunger drive your food choices.
Tips for Meal Prepping
- Buy food storage containers in a variety of sizes. Try ½ cup, 2 cups, and 3 to 4 cup containers. Make sure they are dishwasher, freezer, and microwave safe. An average recipe will usually make enough to fill 4 to 5 of these meal containers at one time.
- Do your meal prepping on a weekend or when you have extra time. To cook one meal, give yourself at least an hour, or more if you’re cooking larger portions. On the other end, you’ll save hours of time on the days when your meals are ready in minutes.
- Keep it simple with a familiar recipe. Try making soups, casseroles, spaghetti, enchiladas, and other food items when meal prepping. You can also make breakfast items (see below). You may want to cook one recipe at a time so you’re not overwhelmed with multiple dishes when starting out.
- Divide your meal up into 1 to 2 cup portions in your containers. One example of a main entrée would be 1/2 cup of grain or starch-brown rice, steamed red potatoes, or quinoa and then protein on top of it, such as 3- to 4-ounce grilled chicken, lean beef roast, or shredded sweet pork.
- Store veggies separately for side dishes. Try putting vegetables in a separate container so the odors and flavors don’t mix with the main entrée. You can use steamed vegetables, raw baby carrots, or salad in these side containers and then choose whatever side sounds good on that day.
- Use smaller containers for fruits, snacks, and breakfast. Try filling ½ cup containers with berries, grapes, or cut up melon when it’s in season. Be careful to use the raw fruits and vegetables within the week so they don’t ripen too much. You can also use ½ cup cottage cheese and 2 tablespoons peanut butter, which make a nice side with raw fruits and vegetables. Breakfast items like steel cut oats and boiled eggs are great for smaller containers too.
- Decide if your meals will go in the freezer or fridge. If you’re not going to use all the cooked meals that week, you’ll want to store them in the freezer. Experts recommend keeping meals in the fridge up to three days and freezing the rest. If you’re going to freeze food, follow these tips.
It’s so nice to have healthy foods ready and waiting at mealtimes. You’ll save time and money and have a sense of accomplishment knowing you’re eating healthy meals you’ve prepared yourself. Give food prep a try!