Whether you are trying to commit to eating at home more, or just want to cut down on your cook time, meal prepping is one of the best ways to help you out in the kitchen.
When life gets crazy, I can be sure that I’ll still have a way to get dinner on the table in just a few short steps each night.
While the idea of doing meal prep each week might sound like a good idea, actually sticking to it is something else entirely. Meal prep will save you time in the kitchen, and make you less stressed in the long run, but you have to keep it up.
Let me guide you through the meal prep, how to actually stick to your meal plan.
First, You Gotta Make A Meal Plan
If you don’t have a meal plan, then your meal prep “how to” is going to be useless!
When you know exactly what you’ll be making each week, you can prepare your meats ahead of time, dice or chop your vegetables, and prepare everything to be put together each night.
If you don’t know what you’re making, then you have no idea what to do with your ingredients until the day you decide what you’re making. You’ll be back to pulling your hair out once again!
The first step to meal prep success is to create a meal plan.
Outline what you are going to make each day, and pick recipes you know you can commit to later in the week. You can download our FREE Meal Planning worksheets right here.
Tip #1: Choose A Set Time
Meal prep is something we say we’ll do, then when the time rolls around, it doesn’t get done.
Instead of hoping you’d do it, make time for it!
Most of us probably plan a specific day to head to the grocery store each week, so why not your food prep? You can do a little bit at a time, or all at once on one day.
No matter how busy your life gets, you need to make sure you choose a specific time or day to do your meal prep.
Tip #2: Write Down Your Meal Plan
Have you ever prepared a ton of food for the week ahead, but you have no idea where you’re supposed to use them?
This is the reason I like to write down my meal plan on something I can print off or leave hanging on the fridge.
I include which ingredients go with each dish and specifics about what needs to be done for each item.
This makes meal prep go by so much faster!
Tip #3: Simplify Your Plan
Don’t create a plan you know you won’t be able to execute. Because if it is too complicated, you will be tempted to fall off your meal plan path.
Make sure you choose meals that are easy to put together and something you would enjoy eating.
Liven it up by creating a theme, such as Taco Tuesday, Mexican Thursday or Pizza on Friday.
Your family will enjoy looking forward to those days in which they have their favorite foods.
Tip #4: Display Your Menu
One way to help keep you accountable and make sure you stick to your plan is to display your menu.
Being able to view your list of meals will be a reminder to you of what dishes you need to prepare and will also let your family know what meals to expect.
I think this is an excellent idea because there are days where you may have to start cooking earlier in the afternoon, such as the crock-pot, this will be a visual reminder of what you will have to prepare.
Tip #5: Meal Prep In A Logical Order
Unless you are preparing whole meals at one time, you need to consider the order you are making things when doing your meal prep.
Anything that is cooked will need time to reach room temperature before it can be put away. Whereas, your cut up veggies can go back in the fridge when you are done.
Before you start meal prepping, look for items you can do together. You can brown all of your meat at once, and then separate them with different seasonings.
Consider things such as cook times, order, and like items when creating your order for cooking.
Tip #6: Have The Right Tools Clean & Ready To Use
Before you get ready to do a meal prep session, you’ve gotta get your counters cleared and have your tools ready to use. You don’t need much, a few cutting boards (separate one for meat and one for veggies), knives, Ziploc bags, pans for pre-cooking meat and maybe the crockpot.
The first time I did some major freezer meal prep cooking, I realized I needed several more arms to hold things and separate them into their own bags.
I bought these hands-free storage bag holders to hold the bag open so that as I cut items, I could immediately add them to the bag. What a sanity saver!
Tip #7: Start With The Things That Take The Longest To Cook
Food items such as rice or something that needs to bake could take a half hour or more just to cook!
When you are working on your meal prep plan, be sure to take cook times into account.
The food with the highest cook times is going to be where you want to start when meal prepping.
Start with the hardest things first, and your meal prep will go much smoother.
Tip #8: Use Your Freezer And Slow Cooker
Meal prep doesn’t have to mean spending all your time preparing meals in your kitchen by hand!
Use your slow cooker to prepare meats, vegetables, and other items you are making.
Your instant pot can make your rice in half the time!
Use the tools you have available to you to cut down on your meal prep time and make things easier!
Tip #9: Recruit Some Help
To stick to your plan, you may need some extra help. Enlist your spouse, children, friends and extended family members to help keep you on track.
With today’s social media we can post pictures, messages or video chat at the click of a button. Posting pictures of meals that you have created will inspire you to do it again.
While you’re cooking, skype with a close friend or use the time to catch up with your Mom.
You could also have your family help you in the kitchen. I assign one of my teens to cut up all the veggies, one to label the Ziploc bags and one to keep watch on the meat we fry up.
These help the prep feel like a family activity and make it more enjoyable for you.
Tip #10: Keep Your Eye On The Prize
Think about why you are creating a meal plan in the first place.
You either want to simplify your life, save money, create healthy meals, or getting the family all together at least once a day for a group meal.
Whichever your reasoning is, you have chosen to take the time to develop it, you might as well follow it.
One way to help you stay focused is to write down your goals and place it somewhere you can view it. Remember when I told you that if you eat out twice a week you’re probably spending $7,000? Meal planning can help you save that $7,000!
Preparing your meals for the week doesn’t take a lot of time, and you can quickly prepare yourself for success by using these meal prep tips.
Remember that the key to successful meal prep is sticking with it, so give these tips a try so you can be on your way to meal preparation success.
YOUR TURN: Are you ready to start meal planning? Let me know in the comments below!
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