Guest Post: Meal Prep to Keep Menus Balanced
5 Rules for Effective Meal Prepping
by Rosetta Juliet Are you meal prepping yet? Good for you if yes. If not, you might want to start doing it now. That’s because meal prepping — preparing the ingredients of your meals for easier cooking in the future, or preparing actual meals beforehand for reheating later on — has many benefits. Notably, it saves you time by eliminating the need to think of what to eat every single day.
Meal prepping also saves you money, as you’ll know exactly what ingredients to buy for the next few days. This is particularly important given how 28% of people’s monthly expenditure goes to groceries, yet 30% of these end up unused and thrown away. It is, not to mention, a great way to eat healthy and this is especially important for families with kids, whose health is again under attack by ill-conceived initiatives that are more harmful than helpful. Given these benefits, it's a good thing that today’s kitchen appliances are making meal prep not only possible, but also fast, easy, and convenient. Prepped food, for instance, can be reheated using small rice cookers that are now designed for multi-functionality, which means they can do so much more than just cook rice. They are also easy to use, making them perfect for those who don’t have much time to spend cooking their meals. Aside from rice cookers, you can also reheat your prepped meals in a microwave oven, or even in a slow cooker, which works in a similar manner to a rice cooker. Even better, meal prepping isn't as hard as it sounds — not if you follow the five rules below for effective meal prepping.
1. Have go-to recipes... preferably healthy ones
According to certified nutritionist McKel Hill, you're bound to feel uninspired on what to cook from time to time, or feel exhausted by the process. This is the reason you need a set of healthy go-to recipes, as they'll be able to bridge those lazy days when you can’t think of what to prepare. In other words, having these easy recipes — a mango smoothie for breakfast, for instance, then zucchini soup and a vegetable bowl for lunch and dinner, respectively — will keep you from falling off the meal prepping bandwagon.
2. Stick with one or two meal combos for a given week
The goal of meal prepping is to save you time and effort. But don't go overboard with too many recipes; otherwise, the process will be tedious, and it will slow you down considerably during preparation time. Instead, settle for one- or two-meal combos every week, say, vegetable curry with roti or naan for lunch and baked sweet potatoes with steamed broccoli for dinner. You might want to switch up the main dishes and side dishes from time to time to keep things interesting. This way, you won't have to overthink your food plans for the week, and will finish meal prepping in no time.
3. Invest in quality containers
With all that food you're preparing beforehand, you'll need plenty of containers so you can safely tuck away your meals in the fridge or freezer. It goes without saying that you will need sturdy containers with lids that fit snugly so that they won't fall off easily. This is especially true if you plan on bringing some of the prepared meals to work. These high-quality containers will be more expensive than your cheap thin takeaway containers, but it's an investment worth making for effective meal prepping as they will keep your food fresh for longer.
4. Get everyone on board
If you're meal prepping for the entire family, the last thing you'd want is to prepare batches of food that not everyone likes. You can avoid this scenario by asking for everyone's input first before actually prepping the meals. This is particularly important if you've got kids, who might still be picky with their food preferences. But by consulting every member, you'll increase your chances of prepping food that the family will actually enjoy.
5. Enjoy prep time
Lastly, you're likelier to keep on doing something if you enjoy it. So, look to make meal prep as enjoyable as possible. Freelance writer and long-time meal prepper Irina Gonzalez suggests listening to audiobooks or podcasts while prepping those meals, as doing so keeps you entertained, and adds to that feeling of accomplishment. Of course, how you choose to keep yourself entertained at the kitchen is entirely up to you!
Article specially written for balanced.org
Authored by Rosetta Juliet