Meal planning is a great way to stay healthy. It can be harder to eat better without a specific plan so meal planning should be a top priority. And meal preparation will be a key part of meal planning.
You can be as intense as you want when it comes to meal prep. You can plan out every meal, snack, drink, and treat. If that sounds like a lot, you can just plan out your breakfast, lunch, and dinner and simply have a list of snacks to choose from. Meal prep can be a lot of work but definitely worth it. Here are four ways you can efficiently prepare your meals.
1- Stick to your grocery list
The best way to start your meal prep is to make a list of recipes you want to eat throughout the week. Once you know what you want to make, make a grocery list of everything you will need. The more closely you follow your grocery list, the better you will follow your meal plan. If your meal plan is part of a new diet or health routine, do not add extra items to your grocery cart (specifically treats and junk food). If you are meal planning to simply stay organized throughout the week, you can have a little flexibility. No matter the case, sticking to your grocery list will not only help you better prep for your meals but will also save you money.
2- Only cook meals you will eat
When starting a meal plan, it is easy to get excited a choose a lot of creative, new recipes. You should have fun with your meals—but maybe take it down a notch. The recipes are no good if you don’t end up cooking them. Instead, try sticking to meals you know you can and will cook—for a little while. Once meal prep becomes a more regular part of your routine, feel to get creative and try a few new recipes each week.
A good rule of thumb is to try one new recipe a week and see how that goes. If that is a piece of cake, try two new recipes the following week.
3- Set aside a day for meal prep
Day-to-day life can be hectic. It may be difficult to set aside a time each day for meal prep. Instead, try designating one day a week. If weekdays are busy for you, meal prep on Saturday or Sunday. If weekends are for parties, then choose a weekday to bust out your meals.
4- Take shortcuts where you can
It’s evident that meal prep is a lot of work. It is okay to take shortcuts—as long as they don’t compromise the quality of your meals. Here are some ways you can cut down your prep time.
Choose meals that reheat well. Soup is one of the best meals to cook, freeze, and reheat later. You can also do the same with casseroles. Another option is freeze fillings (such as taco or fajita fillings).
Pre-cut and cooked foods. If you are making recipes that include a lot of veggies, buy them pre-cut. And if you can, buy food that is pre-cooked. You will want to be picky when choosing pre-cooked food. A safe example of pre-cooked food is rotisserie chicken.