With the fast pace of our modern lives, it’s hard to imagine taking time out of your day to prepare healthy meals for later in the week. However, If you are looking for ways to eat healthier, save money and reduce time spent cooking, then having a meal plan might be the right solution for you.
Meal Planning Ideas
Every meal plan starts with a great idea. By selecting several easy-to-make recipes for the week, you can ensure that you never get tired of eating the same thing.
Some great meal planning ideas to consider are:
- Simple salads with healthy homemade dressings
- Hearty soup recipes that are easy to freeze and reheat later
- Casseroles made with seasonal produce
If you have trouble coming up with some culinary creations perfect for meal prep, there are plenty of healthy meal prep recipes online.
How to Meal Prep
Now that you have an idea of what you would like to eat, it’s time to start planning your meals and writing that grocery list. The easiest way to prepare is by dividing each day of the week into breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This will give you a good starting point for creating your weekly meal plan.
When it comes to grocery shopping, try to stick to the store’s perimeter, where you will find fresh produce and meats. Try to avoid going down each aisle because it can be easy to get sidetracked and purchase items that aren’t on your shopping list.
Once you have all the ingredients for your weekly meal plan, it’s time to fire up the stovetop and prepare your ready-to-eat meals. While this may seem like a lot of work, meal planning and prepping will save you a lot of time in the long run once you get used to it. Not only that, but you’ll also be eating healthier and spending less money on takeout.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Meal Prep
If you are just getting started with meal prepping, you should keep a few things in mind.
DON’T Do Too Much at Once
Don’t get overwhelmed thinking you have to do it all. Instead, start small by preparing one or two meals per week, then work your way up to prepping for three or four days. This will help you get used to the process and make it less overwhelming. In general, it is best to only prep about 3-4 days out as the longer you wait to eat, the faster the food will lose its freshness.
DON’T Focus On Only One Meal Per Day
Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to focus all your energy on preparing just one meal per day. This can be stressful, and it will most likely not save you that much time. So instead, focus on planning a few meals each week and be sure to switch things up with different recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
DO Label Everything
When prepping meals for the week, it’s a good idea to label everything with the date and the dish’s name. Labeling your meals will help you track what has been cooked and when it needs to be eaten. Labeling your meals will also help you stay organized in the kitchen.
DO Use Pre-Made Ingredients
One way to make meal prep easier is by using pre-made ingredients whenever possible. This could be cooked quinoa or rice, pre-made salad dressings, or even pre-made sauces. Using these shortcuts can save even more time in the kitchen.
DO Take Advantage of Sales
When meal prepping, you should take advantage of sales and coupons whenever possible. If your grocery store has a sale on chicken breasts, then be sure to pick up a few extra packs. Keeping your eyes open for sales will help you stay within your budget while prepping healthy meals.
DO Use What You Have
Before going out and picking up new ingredients for your meal plan, take a look in your pantry and fridge to see what you already have. This could lead to some quick and easy meal ideas. In addition, apps and websites like SuperCook can help you find recipes based on the ingredients you have on hand, so nothing goes to waste.
DO Try Something New
Don’t be afraid to try something new when planning your meals. This could be a new recipe or even a different way of cooking your favorite dish. By experimenting, you may find a new favorite meal to add to your regular rotation.
DO Understand Your Goals
Whether trying to lose weight or save some time cooking, make sure you understand your goals. If weight loss is your goal, then it’s a good idea to invest in some to-go containers with pre-portioned sections. This will help you stay accountable and limit over-eating. Be sure to stick to the portion sizes outlined in your meal plan so you don’t go overboard.
The great thing about meal prepping is that anyone can tailor it to their specific lifestyle and preferences. There are many different ways you can make it work for you, so don’t get overwhelmed, and most of all, have fun with it.
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