Meal prepping can be a chore, especially if you're not into cooking. For me, it's a great refuge from the everyday ho-hum and reality. If you find yourself in the former camp, I have a few tips and tricks that might help you get into the routine! Let's take a look!
The Containers Matter!
Type 5 plastic, and BPA free plastic, containers should be your containers of choice. Both of these classifications mean that your container is safe to microwave. Type 5 plastic is highly resistant to heat and BPA free, meaning it doesn't contain the industrial chemical bisphenol-A. Type 5 plastic is also resistant to flavor carryover and tomato sauce reddening. Nothing worse than tasting last week's meal in this week's masterpiece!
Glass is also a fantastic, if somewhat pricey, option. They last forever (if you don't drop them), and can withstand many more uses than your plastic options.
The last thing you want to consider when getting the right containers is to purchase various sizes. Not all meals are prepared equally... in portion sizes. Ensure your breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks all have the correct size container for the job. Also, don't count out your zip bags or reusable plastic sealed bags! These are great for dry snacks!
Make Sure Your Lids Match!
Much like socks in the wash, container lids seem to go MIA somewhere through the washing process. This leaves us with mismatched lids or containers with no tops at all! When it's time to reorder, expand, or replace your aging containers, make sure to purchase the same brand. Usually, the lids are universal to the brand and will come in handy if you get a little too excited about lunch and crack the lid. Um, at least I've heard that can happen...
If you do decide to get different brands of containers, make sure they're wildly different shapes. Then, you won't ever have trouble matching lids!
Spices are Your Friend!
Serioulsy, go crazy with the spices in your meal prepping. In most cases, they are low calorie, strong flavor, and can keep things interesting to your palate so that you don't get tired of the same meal all week. The bottom line of meal prepping law: If you don't like the taste of what you're eating... you're not going to eat it.
Always be Looking for Recipes!
There are SO many resources out there for finding new recipes to spice up your meal prepping game. Check apps such as All Recipes, Fit Men Cook, or Pinterest. Screenshot, pin it, or write down a few a week. It can be during your morning coffee, your lunch break, after you've laid down in bed, or during your *ahem* morning constitution.
The Key to Making it Affordable: Bulk Prepping Items
My pantry and freezer are stocked with items that I use nearly every week to great effect. Here are my staples: frozen fruit and vegetables (a much cheaper option than fresh), brown rice and quinoa on the dry team, canned and dry beans and lentils, steel-cut oatmeal, veggie broth, diced tomatoes, curry paste, chopped garlic, onions, and potatoes.
Counter Space Makes it Easier. Folding Tables Help Too!
I recently redid my entire kitchen with meal prepping in mind. No, seriously. I added several dozen square feet of counter space and more storage for canned and dry goods! However, if you're in a rental, a smaller apartment, or don't have the means for a remodel, then a folding table is your savior. You can nab one of them at any big box store like Walmart, and it will allow for a workspace that can be wiped down and stowed away for next weekend!
Mapped Out Grocery List
Ok, this is one that I'm fairly over the top about. I plan out my grocery list by aisle. I mean, I'm in there enough that I can help shoppers find where things are!
One time our Kroger redid their entire store... I was lost for weeks! Wandered the store for an hour before I made it to the register. Anyhow, I digress.
The benefit of making your list in the order in which you come across things is simple. You won't have to turn back for things, you will be less likely to skip it and forget it on the list, and you can keep from spending as much on impulse buys! Win, win, win!
Make Yourself a Meal Prep Day
Meal prep day is Sunday for me. My family knows it, my friends know it, and I know it. No negotiations. Just get in there and get it done on Sundays after church!
Setting it on the calendar may seem trivial, but I promise that having an appointment to better yourself and your schedule is an attention-getter!
It's Better if You Have ADD!
No, not really, but kind of. It's good if you're adept at multitasking. When most meal preppers first start out, they focus on cooking the veggies, then the protein, then the carb, and then piling them into the bowls one bowl at a time. That's perfectly fine, but it takes FOREVER!
The best thing you can learn to do is set things to cook and prep other items, or prep everything upfront and then cook in sequence. This saves tons of time, and it helps you feel more accomplished.
Technology: The Kitchen of the Future
Invest in some tech whenever you can. Many of mine were gifts received on birthdays and Christmases. Make sure to make your wish list known! I've been building my team for years, and now I've got all the culinary weaponry to do some damage to meal prep day!
Rice Steamer (GAME CHANGER)
All of these items absolutely help me crush six days of meals in a matter of hours. The price tag can be pretty steep on some of them, but patience goes a long way towards building your arsenal. There are also apps that will help you on your journey!
Fit Men Cook (Good for ladies too!)
All Recipies Dinner Spinner
Meal Prepping isn't About Obligation, it's About Freedom!
Yes, meal prepping can be seen as a chore! However, it's actually about freeing up a great deal of your time and energy during the day. This will allow you more time for fitness, friends, chasing dreams, putting in work, and thinking SO MUCH less about what it is you're going to eat every few hours. Because you already have it made!
You'll be so surprised how much of your time having a meal ready to roll for breakfast, lunch, and dinner saves. The only thing you'll really have to worry about is what your new excuse will be when you're used to saying, "I would, but I just don't have the time!"