Meal prep can save you time and money, but sometimes it seems more like an annoyance that drains your entire weekend. How can you make it easier and more fun?
1. Pick one day a week to meal prep. It’s easier if you pick a day ahead of time and plan for it.
○ Many people prefer to do their meal prep on the weekend, so they’ll have enough food already prepped for the entire week ahead. Others pick a Monday or another day to do it. Find the day that works best for you and your family.
○ Once you’ve picked a day, ensure you set aside enough time for your project. You may need several hours to a whole day depending on the amount of food you need to prepare, the complexity of your recipes, or the size of your family.
2. Get a lot of small containers. If you’re prepping for lunches to take to school or work, small containers can be a lifesaver. You can use plastic containers and buy them in bulk. To save money, purchase reusable containers that can go in the dishwasher.
○ The key is to be able to fit all of the food for one person’s meal into one container. Make one for each member of the family who will be taking one of those meals.
○ Consider using color coded lids or labels to make it easier to sort them.
3. Freeze smoothies and juices. One thing that people struggle with in the mornings is making their own smoothies and juices.
○ It’s healthier to make your own juices and smoothies, rather than buying processed and sugar laden versions from the store. However, it’s hard to find the time each morning to cut up all the vegetables and fruits before blending them.
○ Freezing these items ahead of time will save minutes or hours in the morning. On meal prep day, you can slice and chop all of your fruits and veggies and throw them into containers or plastic bags that are freezer safe so they’re ready to go in the mornings. You can mix up what you put in the bags/containers, so you simply dump everything you need in the blender all at once.
4. Freeze soups and sauces. Did you know that you can freeze most soups and sauces after making them?
○ Another easy way to make meal prep work for your family is to freeze soups and sauces. Make extra batches and let them cool on the counter. Then freeze them, so later you can just thaw, heat, and eat.
5. Chop and cut everything in advance. If you hate making salads but love eating them, chop things ahead.
○ You can cut many vegetables ahead of time and store them in the fridge. You can even store spiralized vegetables in the fridge to turn them into pasta later. Zucchini is a popular option.
○ Create separate containers for each vegetable, so they don’t wilt or affect each other. Use clear containers or label them with what’s in them and the date you prepped them.
6. Use jars creatively. Mason jars have become a fun meal prep trick. You can use mason jars to layer salads or make casseroles. You can also use them to make oatmeal layers for morning breakfasts.
○ One popular way is to use them as jarred salads. Put the heaviest items, such as meat or beans, on the bottom of the jar. Then, add the layers of cheese or thicker vegetables. The lettuce should go on top because it’s delicate. Add sauce or dressing in a different jar, so it doesn’t get messy. Make sure you have a plate or bowl to dump the contents out into when you’re ready to eat so it’s easier to get all of the good stuff in one bite!
Meal prep doesn’t have to be a boring chore. Consider these tips to make it a happier process for healthier meals.