If you’ve never been one to meal prep before, now is the perfect time to begin! Meal prepping at least once a week can make your life so much easier. Not only is it great for getting healthier, more nutritionally-dense foods into your daily diet, but it can make your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners far tastier as well.
In the following article, we’ll discuss some key meal prepping tips that can help you get started with this extremely worthwhile habit as soon as today.
Start Meal Prepping! Key Tips to Get You Started
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1. It helps to have the right equipment
Most new hobbies and practices require some purchases. Meal prepping is no different. While you can certainly try to start with just what you have, the entire process will be easier, faster, and, frankly, more fun if you have the right tools and equipment.
For starters, you’ll need to have the basics: Cutting boards, sharp knives, a colander, pots and pans, graters, peelers, etc.
Next, and most importantly, you’ll want to have good storage containers. Most people meal prep for the week using their refrigerator. So, if this is you, you won’t have to worry about freezer-friendly storage.
Fridge-friendly storage containers should generally be made out of glass or stainless steel. While plastic can certainly be used, it’s not ideal. It tends to break down over time (especially if you put it in the dishwasher), and it’s not exactly microwave-friendly. With glass, especially, you can take it right out of the fridge and put it into the microwave, if necessary — without having to switch containers and make more dishes for yourself.
If you do plan on freezing some meals, you might want to use plastic, though. Glass can shatter in the freezer, and metal doesn’t do very well there either (unless you’re using the disposable aluminum containers you can find at any grocery store).
2. Know which foods store the best
Not all foods are going to store well in your refrigerator or freezer. First, let’s take a look at fridge foods.
The meals that store best in the refrigerator include salads, stir fries, lasagnas (and other pasta dishes), vegetable sushi, soups, wraps, and stews. Meals that probably shouldn’t be stored in the fridge include cole slaws and pre-dressed salads, tacos (unless ingredients are stored separately), roasted vegetables, Buddha bowls, and egg-based dishes.
An alternative to storing fully-prepped meals (for example, an entirely finished wrap or a fully cooked stir fry) is to just cut up the ingredients and have them ready for assembly. This often makes your meals look and taste fresher, which a lot of people prefer.
To do this, you might chop up the ingredients for wraps on Monday. Then, on Wednesday night, for instance, you could remove the chopped ingredients and lay them out to assemble into wraps.
3. Don’t forget about snacks
In addition to prepping full meals for the week, don’t forget to make up some snacks. Hard-boiled eggs, chopped fruits and vegetables, dips, hummus and peanut butter snack packs, premade bags of trail mix, and other small items can be perfect when you just need a pick-me-up at some point in the day.
Likewise, make sure that you have easy-to-grab, nutritious drinks at-the-ready. It’s far too easy to grab a can of soda or your 5th cup of coffee when there’s no alternative to sip on. Some good ideas are cucumber- and fruit-infused waters, seltzer waters and club sodas (in cans or with a Soda Stream, for example), refreshing low-sugar juices, and even smoothies and healthy shakes.
If you’re particularly fond of smoothies and shakes, you might try prepping your favorite ingredient combinations into easy-to-grab freezer bags so that no chopping or measuring is when you need a fix.
4. Have something on standby for those extra-hard days
Lastly, do your future self a favor: When you have some extra time, make something special for those super stressful days that you will inevitably have.
We all have days when someone just rubs us the wrong way at work or we have a nasty encounter with the credit card company. It’s on these days that we need something extra special to help us wind down in the evening or even distress in the middle of the day.
We recommend storing these treats in the freezer (you never know when a bad day will hit!). Some great ideas are brownies, energy balls, and ice cream sandwiches.
(Psst! Don’t forget to include a little cannabis corn syrup when making these for some extra warmth!)
As you begin your meal prepping journey, we hope you can use these tips to make the process easier, faster, and more effective for your nutritional goals!