The 411 on meal prepping
What’s the 411? What’s the hot gossip? Tell me everything.
Mean girls reference anyone?
When I first heard about meal prepping, I honestly thought it was stupid. I used to hear an old friend of mine talk about it and I used to get so annoyed. I don’t know why, quite frankly. Now I realize that I was so wrong. When first meal prepping it can be kind of daunting, you think what should I make, what can I make, will it last? Since I don’t eat meat, it became somewhat of a challenge as well. Even if I was still eating meat; chicken, broccoli, and brown rice would just get extremely boring to me over time. Now I could just make brown rice, tofu or tempeh, and veggies every week, but I like to spice things up. I like to make my meals interesting, I like to actually look forward to my meals not dread the fact that I have to eat them. So if you’re someone that gets sick of food easily, then try something new each week. Expand your palette and get excited about the food that you are eating.
I’m not an expert when it comes to meal prepping, but I have gained some pointers over the past couple months that I have been doing this.
Plan everything out
This is the probably the best tip that I can give you. Go to the grocery store with a plan, know exactly what you are getting, where you can find it, and if you need to go to another store to find it. The day before know exactly what meals you are making, and manually write it down on a piece of paper. Be old school about it, visually seeing what you need on paper is better than looking on a tiny screen and then getting distracted by Instagram or Snapchat. Trust me I’ve been there. It’s also best to actually write things down because then you will remember it. A wise professor told me that once, he would frown upon people taking notes on their computers because you wouldn’t learn that way. My point being, just keep it old school, write stuff down it’s a lot easier. I usually write things down on old paper around my house so I’m not wasting anymore.
When planning out meals, I usually start to think about what I want to make during the week. Usually around Thursday or Friday, like I mentioned in my previous post. That way I have a basic idea of what I want to make, and then I can build from there. My whole life as a kid and even when I was in college I was always a procrastinator, I would wait until the last minute for everything. Now as an adult, I am realizing that it’s not a good trait to have about yourself. You can’t be late on bills, appointments, etc. So this has been a great way for me to stay on track and plan ahead. You can start small and think, “okay, for one meal I am going to make a Mexican food inspired dish, and then a soup.” Start off with that and then add in ingredients as they come to you.
Being at the grocery store itself you should have everything planned out. Start from the first isle and decide if you need something from there, and go down the rows picking up things from each isle. I always get produce and frozen items first so they stay cool longer. Go to a grocery store that you are familiar with to save time as well. Or if you are going to a Whole Foods or a local market for the first time, do not be afraid to ask an employee where to find something.
2) Have plenty of time
I can’t stress this enough to give yourself time. I have been known to be meal prepping at 3 am...oops. So wake up early, get some tea in you, have a good meal and head right to the store. Once 11 am hits we all know that grocery stores are a madhouse, or least mine can be. Get your grocery shopping done first so you don’t have to worry about it, then you can take your dog for a walk, take a stroll, or practice yoga before you throw yourself into your cooking. It is okay to give yourself a little break time before you spend up to 3 hours in the kitchen.
3) Be organized
Think about what is going to take the longest to cook or heat up. For instance, when I roast veggies I will preheat the oven first, and start chopping up the veggies that I will be using that week. If you need to boil pasta, get that started too. If you’re making soup, put the pot on the stove and start prepping the base veggies first. Find out what needs to be done first and do it. I always start with veggies so that they can cook while I’m making something else, and so that they can cool. Lay out everything too that you need to prep, take the veggies out of their bags and line them up in what needs to be cut first.
4) Clean as you go
This is probably the easiest yet simplest tip I can give you. Cleaning as you go will save you so much time and stress. Finished using that bowl? Wash it and put it away. Done using the cutting board and knife? Clean it and put it away. Whenever you are done with something, just clean it and put it away. That way your kitchen will be clean the entire time, and you will have a clean work station so you don’t get lost. Also invest in some parchment paper. It will make cleaning your sheet pans so much easier and will save you a lot of time.
5) When in doubt make a soup or stew
Soups or stews are so easy to make and you can throw so much nutrient rich ingredients into them. The base is easy, onions and garlic, or stews add in celery and carrots, and then go from there. Add in beans for added protein, kale is great as well, I’ve even added meatless crumbles for more protein. You can add in quinoa, farro, and lentils as well. The options are endless. Throw whatever you like into a pot, and let it cook for a couple hours, and you have an amazing meal. Soups store really well on top of that; they freeze well, and taste the same just as if you had made it that day.
6) Seasoning is key
The way you make your food taste is going to make you enjoy it much more. Seasoning your food the way you like it will make you excited to eat it. Try something besides just salt and pepper. Add in some turmeric or cayenne, to give it a lil kick. Add in rosemary or oregano, try new flavor combinations. Remember, it is a lot healthier to add seasonings to something than it is sauces. Sauces are loaded with sodium, and like I’ve said in previous posts, you don’t know exactly what companies put in their sauces.
All in all, just plan everything out and stay organized. Know what you are making and stick to it.
I hope these tips have helped you!