Meal-prepping, or batch-preparing several meals in advance, can improve the quality and variety of your diet by making it easy to introduce more diverse, nutrient-dense foods. Linked to weight loss and obesity prevention, it helps you avoid unhealthy takeout meals. Meal prepping also saves time (one day of meal prep equals food for a week) and money (less eating out!) while reducing food waste.
In other words, it’s a win!
If you’re new to meal prepping, the following meal prepping tips will ensure your weekly trips to the farmer’s market don’t go to waste.
1. Make a Meal Prep Plan
You might wonder how cooking can be quicker than visiting the drive-thru.
Meal-prepping entails shopping in bulk for your food, cooking large batches, then returning to those meals throughout the week. So while you do spend one day shopping and cooking, the rest of your meals are easily accessible, requiring reheating at most.
Before heading to the farmer’s market, make a plan for the week or month. What day will you shop, and will you cook that same day, or the next? Take stock of your current inventory and make a list of ingredients you need (and stick to it!).
Having a plan makes the act of buying food and cooking it feel less overwhelming.
2. Stay Stocked up on Staples
If you keep kitchen staples around that you love, you’ll find that grabbing them for a snack or meal is easy. You can eat them as-is or add to them if you have time.
Some food staples include:
Hardboiled eggs (great on their own or as a salad topper)
Washed greens (for salads or on sandwiches)
You get the idea!
3. Learn About Batch Cooking
Batch cooking is simple. Double or triple the recipe so you yield larger quantities and can access them all week (or month!).
You don’t need fancy equipment to batch cook, but having a few pieces of standard equipment will make your life easier. Invest in a few good quality knives and buy 2 or 3 cutting boards in various colors to keep cross-contamination to a minimum. To keep those leafy greens in good shape, a salad spinner is a must!
Soups, casseroles, and curries are some of the many examples of meals that translate well to batches. You can also batch-cook individual ingredients, like potatoes or beans, and reheat them as a snack/meal or as ingredients for other meals.
To ensure freshness, eat cooked foods within three to seven days of cooking, or store them in the freezer. You might also try your hand at canning or pickling!
4. Use the Right Containers
To keep food fresh, using appropriate methods of storage is crucial.
Mason jars are a great way to store salads, smoothies, oatmeal, and more. Other options include:
Freezer-safe containers that you can date and label, then store until you’re ready
Collapsible containers that save space when not in use
Those that come with removable ice packs, perfect for taking food on-the-go
Containers that are microwave-, oven-, and dishwasher-safe
Compartmentalized containers for keeping food separated
5. Collect and Organize Favorite Recipes
As you experiment with different meals, be sure to keep track of your favorites.
That way, you can come back to them time and again, perhaps making small substitutions (like new spices) to keep things interesting.
Use cookbooks, handwritten recipe cards, or print recipes from the internet and put them in sleeves so you can reference them easily.
Meal Prepping Tips for the Novice to the Expert
By following the advice above, you’ll be well on your way to a balanced, nutritious, and healthy diet.
Find the best farmer’s market in your area, then use these meal-prepping tips to ensure your fridge is stocked with great meals for a week!
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