Now that work routines are starting to normalize, and some people are returning to the office (whatever that may look like), there isn’t as much time to bake fresh banana bread or make pasta from scratch. Going back to work now can be stressful and hectic, so meal planning might be an option for you to feel some control and reduce stress. Some people might find meal prepping a good way to prepare for the workday and reduce stress and to ensure you’re eating a balanced diet. Others may try it in efforts to cut costs, save time, or lose weight. Meal prepping can look different for every person – it can be as simple as making lunch or breakfast the night before, batch cooking, or pre-cooking your meals for the week and portioning them out. Whichever type of meal planner you want to be, here are some tips for successful meal planning:
If you are new to the meal prepping world, it’s a good idea to start small. First, Tupperware’s of your choosing are essential. Next, try meal planning snacks first, or a couple of meals a week. Simply making lunch and breakfast the night before or putting dinner in a slow cooker in the morning are easy steps to start meal prepping.
Ensure you’re considering each food group
One benefit of eating food from home is that you can start eating healthier, balanced meals. With that being said, it is important to consider every food group. Some people may just make a kale salad with Caesar dressing, and while that does seem healthy, it probably won’t keep you full for long, eliminating the benefit of meal prepping.
Portioning is an option to help ensure you’re getting a sufficient amount from each food group. Portion measuring cups and plates can help measure portions and you can find a variety of portion measurements and cups on Amazon here. Familiarizing yourself with the Canadian Food Guide can give you an idea of what to include in your meals.
Stick to basics
Pantry basics are easy go to bases for meal prepping and are usually easy to cook in bulk and add to salads to make them more nutrient dense. The bulk aisle may be your best friend in the area. Using Bulk foods can help cut costs, but also limit the amount of stuff you’re buying at the grocery store!
Whole grains, such as rice, quinoa and oats are easy to make ahead and store and add to anything to get the carbohydrates we need. Beans, lentils and chickpeas are also easy to cook ahead and store, or just to toss on a salad cold. Potatoes and mixed nuts can also help to keep in your pantry to make your meal more satiating.
Put aside time to plan
Putting aside 15 minutes on a Saturday to plan your meals for the week can pay off in the long run. This will allow you to go grocery shopping and cook up a storm on the Sunday before the work week.
Maintaining a schedule for the week for meals can help you stick to it and avoid confusion. Try to have a file for recipes you come across during the week This can make the planning time that much easier. You might find a recipe on Pinterest that you want to try but its only Tuesday and you’ve planned all your meals that week – stuff it into a recipe folder and you can come back to it when you do your planning. This is also a good place to keep your past recipes that you enjoyed and want to recycle.
Make a list
Once you plan out what you’re making, head to the grocery store with a list of all of the ingredients you need. This will help make sure you stick to the list, but also don’t’ forget any component of the meal. A bean salad isn’t the same without the beans!
Utilize the freezer!
This will make batch cooking or utilizing leftovers much easier! If you make lasagna the night before and want to bring that for lunch the next day, plopping it in the freezer and packing it the next day is an easy way to meal prep. To make it even simpler, you can pre portion all of the lasagna, or food you have in the freezer, so you just have to grab and go!
I find this makes eating the proper amount of veggies much easier. By pre-cutting some cauliflower, onions, tomato or lettuce and storing it, it makes it so much easier to grab it and toss it into a meal. This way, you also avoid the clean up every day.
Make it enjoyable and yummy – prep for yourself!
At the end of the day, you’re preparing these meals for yourself, so tailor them to your own taste and dietary needs! Don’t be afraid to alter any recipes online, or just pack up some leftover cold pizza some days. As strict and intimidating as it may sound with all of the planning, it puts you in control about the flexibility of your meal prep.
Some Meal Prep Tricks:
Try to meal prep breakfast. This helps your morning become even simpler and stress free. Some recipes to try out include variations of overnight oats , yummy egg muffins , or pre-cutting vegetables for your morning omelet.
Try out a slow cooker. You can out something in it in the morning and have dinner ready to go for that night. Pulled pork or chickens are easy to do in the slow cooker. Here are some easy recipes to use in your slow cooker.
Funston, L. (2018, December 21). 7 Genius Tips For Becoming A Meal Prep Queen. Retrieved from https://www.delish.com/cooking/a25656555/how-to-meal-prep-tips-guide/
Hill, A. (2019, July 8). How to Meal Plan: 23 Helpful Tips . Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/meal-prep-tips#section23
Schildhouse, J. (2018, June 14). Everything You Need to Know About Meal Prepping. Retrieved from https://www.oxygenmag.com/nutrition/7-major-benefits-of-meal-prep