Getting in on the meal-prepping craze can benefit both your health and your wallet. This technique can save you hours in the kitchen, help you and your family eat better and decrease your reliance on the drive-thru.
If you are new to the process, you might think it involves cooking each meal in advance. While you can, there’s much more to it — and planning adds variety and spice to everyday dinners. Here are eight meal prep tips for beginners.
1. Evaluate Your Needs
The first step in successful meal prep entails examining your objectives. Do you hope to shed excess pounds by perfecting paleo? Maybe you only want to eat more salads without paying outrageous prices for a single serving at the takeout counter.
Consider dietary restrictions when sitting down to write your grocery list. You’ll save money and cement your purpose for starting meal prep in the first place, which makes it a snap to stick to your commitment.
2. Talk With Your Family
Maybe you enjoy living on hummus and carrot sticks, but what do your loved ones reach for at snack time? To save money and make meal prep for beginners worth it, you need to honor everyone’s preferences.
Find out what they can’t live without and cater to their tastes. Learn how to stock your kids’ lunchboxes with healthy snacks they’ll refuse to swap — a potentially risky habit in today’s world.
3. Invest in Quality Containers
One depressing but avoidable pain of food prepping is discovering that your vegetables have gone bad before you get to use them. The right containers whisk away excess moisture to keep your lettuce crisp until you eat it.
You might want to choose glass over plastic. These models won’t absorb food germs or odors. Plus, they’re dishwasher-safe, making cleanup substantially easier.
4. Write It in Your Planner
Part of successful meal prep for beginners entails gathering your ingredients, but sometimes, you forget items when you make a shopping list. Why not use your planner?
When you stumble across a tasty vegan cauliflower masala recipe online, jot down the things you need on one of the blank notebook pages. Conversely, use an app like the Cozi Family Organizer to alert whoever stops at the store next to pick up coconut milk.
5. Think Versatility
Did you think meal prepping meant a preordained menu? It doesn’t. Instead, ask yourself which you would prefer — coming home after a long day to chop veggies or having them wok-ready?
Meal prepping increases your freedom the same way that having a prep cook does. Once you are free from the exhausting chore of starting from scratch each suppertime, you can let your culinary creativity flourish.
6. Gear up With Gadgets
If you want to make meal prep for beginners as streamlined as possible, you need the right gear. A vegetable spiralizer can transform your summer crop of zucchini into a low-calorie pasta alternative. A scallop attachment makes your potatoes the envy of restaurateurs.
Another kitchen must-have is an instant pot. With one of these devices, you can toss in your goulash ingredients before you leave for work. When you arrive home, the scent of the perfect stew awaits you.
7. Use That Freezer Space
While having chopped ingredients on hand is convenient, sometimes you need to grab-and-go. When doing your weekly meal prep, include a few freezer meals, like burritos, that you can zap in seconds.
If working from home while teaching homeschooled children causes a severe time crunch, consider investing in a few bento boxes. These ingenious devices can heat everyone’s lunch with the touch of a button. They’re ideal for schlepping along to the office, too.
8. Explore New Flavors
Have you ever tried jicama? It has the consistency of radish, but it’s sweeter and milder and adds a pleasant crunch to salads.
Meal prepping gives you the freedom to try unusual ingredients like lotus root in exciting new ways. Maybe your family doesn’t care for the nourishing stuff when you add it to a soup, but they adore when you bake it into a healthier chip alternative.
Beginners, Get Your Meal Prep on Point With These Tips
When it comes to meal prep for beginners, you now have the tools you need to get in the game. Let your culinary mastery shine while keeping your family fed and healthy.