Are you overwhelmed by the task of cooking healthy, delicious meals for your family? You really have the desire but just cannot find the time in your busy schedule? Meal Prep is the solution for you.
Let’s face the facts. Preparing quick and delicious meals three times a day is just downright impossible with everything else you have going on in life. You have to work your 9 to 5 job. You have to take the children all over the place to their various after school activities. You have PTA meetings and church committee meeting and several other errands to run. So much so that when you drag yourself home after nightfall you are just too tired to even look in the kitchen. By using some simple principles that show you how to meal prep for a week, you are going to be amazed to discover how easy cooking delicious, healthy food can be.
Benefits of Meal Prep
- You can buy your food in bulk, which is cheaper.
- You don’t have to make multiple trips to the grocery store to buy ingredients for your meals. You will save on gas.
- You won’t have to buy the more expensive foods at the restaurant or other eating establishments because you will have you own nutritious, pre prepared meals at hand, ready to eat.
Frees up time for other important things such as:
- Spending quality time with your family.
- Cuddling up with your favourite book and having some well-deserved “Me” time.
- Spending time with friends.
- Catching up with other household chores (someone has to do it).
Good for your health
- Helps in your endeavours to provide healthy food for the family.
- Makes it easier to stick to your healthy eating goals.
- Reduces your stress. (Having to prepare 3 meals a day can be very stressful if you don’t prep beforehand.)
How to go about it
So what is all this meal prep about? It is about spending a little time to prepare beforehand, all the meals you will eat for the next few days. The best time to do this is on a Sunday when you will prepare your meals for the rest of the working week. There is no hard and fast rule as far as Sunday is concerned though. There are some of you who might have a flexible work week and Sunday might not be the most convenient day. No problem. Just choose whichever day works for you.
There are two ways you might consider prepping your food.
- You can prep the ingredients.
- You can prep the meal.
Prepping your ingredients would include washing and cutting up all the vegetables which you will use in your various dishes such as carrots, kale, lettuce, onions. You would grate your ginger, mince your garlic, cook your legumes, cook your grains etc. These would be stored in separate containers until it is time to put the meal together.
Check out how Chantymarie meal preps her ingredients for a week’s worth of cooking.
If you are prepping the meal itself, you will actually finish cooking and combining the meal and share out the complete meal in various containers.
How many days can I meal prep for at a time?
While many persons routinely prepare meals that can last for two servings, the fact is that you can easily prep meals that can last for a week. This is usually the work week. You don’t usually have a problem preparing meals on the weekends, do you?That is because very likely, you don’t have the time problem then as you do during the week. The most efficient and effective meal preps are usually done for 5 days (or one work week).
What food is good to meal prep?
Whatever you plan to eat during the week you can safely meal prep. All types of vegetables; green, leafy vegetables, carrots, beets, also grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, salad dressing, smoothies, desserts. Just plan your menu for the week and get your ingredients ready for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Which vegetables work best for meal prep?
There are so many to choose from. You are guaranteed to find vegetables that you like and can prep. Do you like cabbage? You can prep that. What about broccoli? You can prep that too. Also, cauliflower, asparagus, carrots, celery, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, green beans, kale, lettuce, arugula, beet, bell pepper, onion, scallion. Tomatoes also work for meal prep but it is best to store them whole. Sliced cucumbers can also work but it might not store very well for the 5 days. It is best to store those whole as well.
Root vegetables such as potatoes should be cooked before storing. Baking is a preferred method of prepping potatoes.
Which meal prep containers should I use?
The important factor here is to ensure that the container is air tight. Plastic containers and Ziploc bags work fine. If you are storing food that you have just cooked such as rice, quinoa or lentils, it is best to store them in a glass container with an airtight lid added after it cools.
It is advisable to use regular shaped, regular sized containers so that they can fit in your fridge without much problem.
How long can meal prep last in the fridge?
Your meal prep can last up to 5 days in your refrigerator. Raw, chopped veggies might be a little bit wilted by the fifth day so if possible, eat them earlier in the week. Cooked vegetables will last the week. If you are still concerned about spoilage and want to play it safe you can store the first 3 days of meal prep in the fridge and the remainder in the freezer.
How to prevent meal prep food from going bad.
Clean and sanitize
Bacteria is the main culprit when it comes to food spoilage.
- Ensure that your hands are properly washed before handling any food.
- Also ensure that all the food you are preparing is properly washed and dried before storing.
- Don’t forget to clean your chopping board as well.
Label and Store Properly
It is advisable to invest in durable, easy to clean food storage sets, because by organizing, labeling, and dating your prepared items, you will easily see the expiry date and know exactly how long each meal is “best by.” You will therefore be able to eat the foods with the shorter shelf life first and reduce the chance of spoilage.
Tips for safe storage
- Ensure that your refrigerator is working properly. The refrigerator temperature should be 40F or below and the freezer should be 0F or below.
- For those foods that you have to cook, allow them to cool down to close to room temperature (or for no more than two hours) before placing it in the fridge.
- Glass containers are great for storage but if you are going to use plastic containers, make sure they are BPA free.
- If you are going to freeze your meals, make sure the containers are airtight because if they are not, the food may be susceptible to freezer burn and will not taste the best when you eat the meal.
- Defrost your frozen meal by removing from the freezer and placing in the fridge from the night before.
Be inspired by the Mushroom Den as she shows you how she does her week’s prep of meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Are you ready to meal prep? Let’s get started.
First make a plan
You need to plan out your menu for the week. You need to decide what you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the entire week and make a list of the ingredients you need. Check what you already have in your kitchen and plan a trip to the grocery store to get the ingredients that you don’t yet have.
It is now Sunday and you have all your ingredients on hand. Go ahead and put all your grains, legumes and whatever else on the stove top to cook and put your potatoes etc in the oven to bake. While those things are cooking away, wash and chop your vegetables as necessary. After you are finished with the vegetables, go ahead and make your sauces.
Of course you will want to adjust these instructions depending on your menu. The general principle though is that you try to arrange to do multiple tasks at once as this will help you in completing your preparations faster.
If you are meal prepping for the first time, it is best to keep the dishes to a few choices. It might be overwhelming as a beginner to be prepping for 5 different breakfasts, and 10 different lunch and dinner meals. Just start with 3 or 4 different meals and be prepared to repeat the menu throughout the week.
Even if you are an expert prepper, don’t prep more than 5 days worth of food unless you decide to store it all in the freezer. After all the prepped foods will not lasts forever.
Remember to use proper containers to store your food.
As mentioned earlier, you can use glass or plastic containers or even Ziploc bags. I tend to lean towards glass however for the following reasons:
- You can see what is in them easily.
- They can be used safely in the microwave.
- They won’t alter the taste of food, even if it’s left in there for a few days.
- When warming up your food, glass containers won’t release any chemicals with the hot temperature as plastic containers can.
- The glass container will not have a residual smell of the food that was previously in it like the plastic can.
To help you with your routine, check out these quick and easy meal prep ideas from Tasty.
Vegan Meal Prep For Your Entire Week • Tasty
Well I am sure you have gotten the hang of this. You can meal prep too.
Get ready to enjoy healthy, delicious meals each day and still have time to spend with family and friends.
Do you know what would be great? If you could get your entire family into the kitchen to help with the meal prep. Make it a family get together time.
Wow! How cool would that be?
I leave you with one last, very helpful, easy vegan meal prep video, this time from Fablunch.
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