1. SCHEDULE SCHEDULE SCHEDULE
The most important thing to do to get started with meal prep is to schedule it. It will take a good couple of hours, especially the first few times when you’re still getting used to cooking multiple meals and sorting yourself it- it can be overwhelming! But persevere, and it will take a lot less time than cooking a meal every day of the week, so rearrange your week. Find those days where you’re too busy for dinner and plan for a prepped meal. Also find days where actually, you do have some free time, could you rearrange some things to spread them out and free yourself up a chunk of time?
I find Sundays the best day for this, and that’s probably the same for most fans. Work out the best day for you, based on the day you can get all your groceries, and the days you have time to dedicate to prepping.
2. EXPAND YOUR REPERTOIRE
An often-overlooked element of meal prepping is how good the food actually is. Lots of photos you’ll see of meal prep spreads will look thoroughly unappealing, many focus on a plain protein and salad. Breaking news: you can prep meals you actually enjoy! That last thing you want to do is fill your freezer with bean chilli when you hate bean chilli. It’s wasting food and space that could be taken up with Shepherd’s pie or sausage casserole. If you dread what you’ve got planned for that day, you’ll begin to resent the meal prep process and quickly give up. Don’t do it! Check out a few recipes online (we have loads here!) or watch youtube videos of other preppers, and you will definitely find enough meals to keep you satisfied.
3. MAKE A PLAN
Once you’ve found meals you want to cook, plan when you’ll need to:
- Plan when you will eat each meal
- Work out what ingredients you need for each meal
- Check what you already have and what you’ll need to buy
Writing down your plan for the week makes to more likely you’ll stick to it. The family can see what to expect, and you can see what you have available.
4. KEEP IT CONTAINED
Decent containers are vital, you don’t want anything that leaks in your freezer or your work bag. Decide what size you need- do you want to prep for yourself or your whole family? Are you packing lunches or evening meals? It’s absolutely fine to reuse plastic containers, they often fit a perfect portion and stack well in a freezer. It’s also important to consider if you want plastic, bamboo or glass. Bamboo is good for microwaving, whereas glass can be put in the oven, so consider what your reheating options are what your meal requires.
5. SHOP IN BULK
Many meal preppers rely on grains and beans, as they store and reheat well. They are also very cheap staples that provide protein and nutrients. Lots of meats and vegetables work out cheaper when bought in larger quantities- meal prepping allows you to maximise savings and minimize trips to the supermarket. Freezing produce in meals saves space and stops produce going bad.
6. KNOW YOUR TIMINGS
Once you’ve worked out what you want to prep, work out how much each meal needs to cook, and start with the longest first. It helps to prep all your ingredients first, and then you can start assembling meals. While one meal is cooking, you can work on the next, and so on. This also allows you to maximise the use of the oven (saving on gas), and ensure you have enough pots and pans available to use.
6. BEFRIEND THE SLOWCOOKER
The slowcooker is your best friend. You can stick all your ingredients in and leave it for the best part of the day. They usually fit enough for several portions, minimize the washing up, and make sure food is thoroughly cooked. Stick a slow cooker meal on first, and move on with the other dishes without needing to worry about keeping an eye on it.
7. STORE IT RIGHT
Work out the best way to store your prepped meals so that nothing spoils and is wasted. Don’t store your Friday meal in the fridge on a Monday, that’ll want a space in the freezer. And don’t put leafy salads in the freezer, plan to eat those first and keep them in the fridge. You’ll also need to decide what reheating options are available. If you’re planning on taking meals to work but you don’t have access to a microwave, opt for meals that can be kept in a fridge and eaten cold. But bulkier dinners that you can put back in the oven at home can be stored easily in the freezer.