I’m tackling a well known but still frustrating topic for most people today…meal planning and prepping.
One of the most important tools to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is meal planning and prepping. Those can be very overwhelming tasks to people. Here are 6 tips to meal planning and prepping that will help take the anxiety out of those tasks.
1.) Use a Meal Planning App
I have used many meal planning calendars and tools in the past and I always had the same problems…I never stuck to the actual plan and I always bought way more ingredients than I needed and somehow always forgot at least one ingredient. It’s so frustrating to plan out a week’s worth of meals and then try to combine the list of ingredients for those meals. I’ve recently started using a meal planning app that has completely changed my grocery shopping habits! Plan to Eat (aff link) is an AWESOME website! You can easily import your recipes using their browser tool so you have all your Pinterest recipes in one place online (not scattered and unorganized in 462 Pinterest boards like I do). You then ‘drag and drop’ the recipes you want to use onto a calendar and the website automatically creates your shopping list out of the ingredients imported from the recipes! It’s so easy! My meal planning has been cut in half and I’ve saved money because I’m only buying exactly what I need and I never forget an ingredient!
PS- They’re currently having an insane deal where you get 50% off your subscription cost!
2.) Chop and/or roast veggies ahead of time
Most of our meals are simple and contain lean protein and veggies. You don’t need to make it more complicated than that. However, when it comes to cooking the dinner at 5pm and you have toddlers tugging on you and throwing fits…why must they always lose it right at dinner time…it can be hard to wash all the veggies, chop all the veggies, and season them and toss them in the oven to cook. One thing you can do is to chop up all your veggies on the weekend or during a naptime and keep them in the fridge or freezer until you want to use them. That way you have them already chopped up (which takes up most of the time), and all you have to do is toss them with the seasonings and throw them in the oven. I even do this with vegetables that are on sale. I’ll buy a bunch of them, chop them up, and keep them in the freezer (if they freeze well). That way, on any given night I can just take them out and roast them without putting much planning or effort into it.
3.) Chop up protein
This tip falls right in line with #2. Most of the time of meal prepping takes so long because you have to chop everything up. If you chop up the chicken, or steak, or fish (do people chop up fish??) beforehand, your cooking time will be cut in half most of the time. This will also allow you to toss in, with your protein, whatever sauces or marinades you make to go with your dish.
4.) Make sauces ahead of time
Sauces can be a key component for kicking up your flavor profile for your dinner. Like how I used ‘flavor profile’ like a real chef?? 🙂 However, they can take up a fair amount of time to actually make. These are another thing you can make on the weekends or during any downtime you may have throughout the week, which brings me to my next point…
5.) You don’t have to do it all at once
Many people think meal prepping has to be done all at once and take 3 hours on a Saturday afternoon. This is not the case! You can meal prep whenever you have spare time and in pieces. One night after the kids go to bed, you can chop up some veggies. The next day when the kids are napping (like how I do all the things when the tiny human is in bed??), you can chop up your protein. You absolutely can do a 3 hour food prep session on a Sunday afternoon, and while I have done that in the past, it’s very time consuming and overwhelming and doesn’t fit into my schedule every single weekend. I usually cut up veggies and protein on the weekend. Then maybe Monday or Tuesday, I make a batch of muffins to eat on throughout the week (or in our case, the next 2 days). I might also do make a few sauces or marinades towards the beginning of the week, but food prep usually doesn’t take me more than an hour at this point because I like to split it up.
6.) Account for leftovers
This is a big one that folks often don’t think about. You can make a little extra of your dinner and have leftovers! We have at least one or two ‘leftover’ dinner nights per week. We also use leftovers for lunches a lot of the time as well. Accounting for these leftovers can take the stress off of planning and cooking on nights when there’s a soccer game, or a late work meeting, or you’re just too darn tired to do anything! Having leftovers also eliminates the need to go out to eat last minute because you haven’t prepped anything on a given night. Eliminating the need to drop by fast food and eat some more home cooked meals will help that waistline stay trim as well and provide your body with much better nutrients.
I hope some of these tips will help you when planning out next week’s meals. Let me know which ones you plan to use or implement in the comments. I’d love to know which ones worked for you!
I will also be doing another post about my favorite meals to prep so stay tuned for that!
Until next time!