Meal prepping is more than just a fitness craze. When done right, it will give you the motivation to stay on track with your goals to making better food choices. It will also become a fun activity that you'll look forward to doing each week. So if you have resolved to adopt better eating habits this year, here are some meal prep ideas to get you started.
Plan your meals before you shop
Portion control is one of the major benefits of meal prepping. However, for you to be sure that your meals are in proper amounts, plan before you hit the market. Here are the basic things you need to consider as you plan your meals:
- how much time each week you can spare to plan, buy and cook your meals
- how many days worth of meals will you prepare each time
- your nutrient and caloric requirements as suggested by your daily activities
For most people, Sundays are ideal for food shopping and batch cooking as this is the least hectic day of the week. You might want to try setting Sunday apart to prep your meals for the weekdays.
Add variety to your meals
One of the joys of planning your meals before you shop is that you will be able to vary your meals. You do not have to eat the same food throughout the week.
You do not have to feel like you are eating leftover from yesterday's food.
Think of ways to vary your meals. Variety will keep you from getting bored with the food you eat.
Here is a rule of thumb: each meal should be one part healthy carbs, one part protein, and one part fresh produce.
Mix and match these portions. Choose foods whose ingredients overlap. This way, you can make 2 or 3 different dishes using the same basic ingredients.
For example, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers can be used to make couscous risotto, green pizza and veggie stir-fry. Think about your favorite vegetables.
Plan your snacks & drinks too
Here is a meal prep idea that foodies will love: prep snacks and drinks too. For someone who is still learning to tame his appetite, having healthier alternatives to his usual snacks and beverages is helpful.
A healthy snack will stop yourself from reaching for that doughnut or that bag of "healthy" potato chips in the office's pantry.
The same goes for your drinks. Plan to always have fresh juice in the fridge. Make smoothies using fresh fruits and veggies that you use to make your meals. Keep a pitcher of fruity mocktails in your fridge to serve visitors.
Healthy beverages will keep you away from drinking soda or instant juice that do nothing but add unnecessary and unhealthy sugars to your body.
Think you can't let go of your usual Starbucks fixes? You can pre-plan your coffee fixes as you plan your meals too. Here is a blog post on coffee hacks to help you with that.
Go for freezer-friendly food items
Freezer-friendly food a.k.a. make-ahead food can be anything from soups, side dishes to snacks and sauces. Having these food items handy is probably one of the best meal prep ideas you should take to heart.
You can pre-portion pasta, dumplings, burritos, pizza and quesadillas. And then stock them in the freezer.
These food items can last anywhere from a few weeks to 3 months in the freezer. All you have to do is thaw and cook right before you eat them.
These can be your go-to food in times when you need to take a break from your usual prepped meals. Taking the time to make these will make meal prepping even more time-convenient and pocket-friendly for you.
Practice the art of making one-pan meals
Cleaning up is one of the not-so-fun parts of meal prepping. You might be too tired even to tidy up the kitchen.
One thing you can do to make the clean up a little bearable is to minimize your usage of cookware. For this reason, we have one pan meals.
Did you know that you can make your all-time favorite dishes in one pan? You read that right! Make meal prepping work to your best advantage by making dishes or even meals using a single pan.
You can make anything from stir-fry dishes, to pasta, to casseroles in a single pan. In fact, if you have a fry pan that has a detachable handle, you can even make stove-to-oven dishes conveniently.
If there is one more thing to add to this list, that is for you to have fun. Modify recipes if you have to. This way, all the meal prep ideas we have listed above will work together to suit your food and lifestyle better.