Tips for Meal Planning and Prep in the New Year
If your goals for the new year include eating healthier, or finding more time to relax during your work week, then getting into a routine of meal planning and prep may be a great way to achieve both.
Meal prepping looks different for everyone. Some people like to cook full meals for the week ahead,. Others like to prep different components to throw together quickly at dinner time.
A great place to start is to think about where you want to make a positive change:
● Do you need a fast and healthy breakfast ready as you dash out the door?
● Will packing a lunch help you avoid the temptation to join your coworkers at the nearest fast food restaurant?
● If you make dinner faster, will you have more time to spend with your family, or for reading a good book?
Once you have figured out what meals you need the most help with, and how many you’d want to prepare ahead, then you can move on to the logistics of planning and prepping. Whatever your goals, here are some things to consider.
You’ll need a place to put all your delicious meals, so take an inventory of your current food storage containers, and purchase more if you need them. Some containers are made specifically for meal prepping and have multiple compartments to keep food separate, while using mason jars for salads and overnight oats has become a popular trend. Ideally the containers you choose will be freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe to help maximize the convenience factor!
When it comes to meal prepping, careful planning will make it all a breeze. Here are some tips:
● Think about your schedule for the week ahead—do you already have plans to eat out for certain meals, or will you be out of town at all? This will affect the number of meals you need to prep.
● Look for recipes you can make in large batches and that reheat well, such as soups or dishes featuring healthy grains.
● Pick some meals or items that freeze well—if you make a healthy chili for this week, consider freezing half and then you can simply reheat the rest a few weeks from now when you are short on time.
● Make shopping easier by picking recipes that use similar ingredients.
● Decide when you’ll do shopping and cooking, and block time on your calendar.
Prepping & Cooking
● Clean and chop all your vegetables at once. Buying frozen or pre-cut vegetables is a helpful option for saving more time.
● Maximize your time by cooking as much food as you can at the same time; roast veggies or bake chicken in the oven while you are cooking quinoa or pasta on the stove top!
● Divide your cooked items into large containers for complete meals. Or, store components separately and easily grab grains, vegetables, and proteins when you are ready to assemble them.
That’s it! Meal prepping is pretty easy when you have a good plan in place. Plus, it allows you to have nutritious, satisfying meals ready to eat when you’re hungry!