Making the time to prep your meal for the week is the perfect way to save time and get great nutrition at every meal. While it may seem time-consuming to cook all your meals at once, you can get the entire process down to a science. By the time you run errands on the way home from work; swing by the gym and take care of the house, you’ll be glad a tasty meal is waiting for you. Here are some great tips for a sustainable meal prep plan:
Start with a plan
Before you even set foot in the grocery store, be sure that you know what meals you will be preparing for the week. Make a weekly grocery list so you know which ingredients and how much of each item you need. Without a clear plan, you can end up back at home trying to throw together a meal with ingredients that are better suited to a cooking show challenge than to weeknight meal prep.
Learn how to cook, or upgrade your skills
Larger supermarket chains frequently offer free or reasonably-priced cooking classes. Check out the community bulletin board or stop by customer service the next time you shop. (Many food co-ops offer similar services and may also have information about purchasing harvest ‘shares’ in a local farm.) You’ll learn time-saving tips and will likely get coupons or other promotions to help save money on ingredients.
Cooking magazines and websites are another great source of menu inspiration. Magazines often feature cooking techniques, menu planning tips, kitchen organization ideas, and product reviews. (Those with an online presence may offer brief videos!) Cooks Illustrated also offers a free newsletter.
Craftsy, a great destination for online learning, brings classes in everything from appetizers to main courses right to your mobile or desktop device. The platform offers beginner, intermediate and advanced instruction. (Most classes are fee-based, but some are free.) Bonus: each class lists downloadable grocery/shopping lists for materials and ingredients.
Timesaving tip: Learn how to make ‘two-fer’ meals: Monday’s dinner becomes Tuesday’s lunch.
Look for shortcut recipes, including:
Mason jar breakfasts and salads are both popular, time saving trends. For breakfast, you can layer a mason jar with a combination of creamy lemon-pie filling, oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and raspberries and let it sit overnight. There is no cooking involved and it makes for a quick, well-rounded breakfast. The same technique can be applied to salads. Simply add some dressing to the jar and layer your favorite veggies for an on-the-go salad.
Streamline food prep
Meal prepping can quickly reveal that you have ten containers and only four matching lids. After a couple hours of chopping and cooking, the last thing you want to do is try to piece together some containers to hold all the food you just made.
Invest in a variety of food containers so you always have the right size available for either refrigerator storage or for your tote/lunchbox. It’s also a good idea to store pantry items in glass containers; they are less likely to become infested with moths. (Freeze first, then store your purchase.)
BPA (bisphenol A) is “used to line many food and beverage cans and is also found in plastic wraps and the containers many people use to store food.” For this reason, you may want to switch from plastic to glass food-storage containers. If that’s not an option, make sure to use ceramic or glass dishes in your microwave oven. Heat transmits BPA molecules into food.
Why it’s important to eat a varied diet
Eliminate the boredom caused by eating the same foods
One potential drawback of meal prepping is that you can end up eating the same foods everyday. Remember to work some variety into your plan so that you don’t end up at the drive-thru.
You may vaguely remember that it’s a good idea to eat dark, leafy greens in addition to brightly colored vegetables, but do you know why? Unless you track your nutritional intake, it’s easy to eat more than enough of some vitamins and minerals and not enough of others.
According to registered dietitian Monica Reinagel, “variety keeps you safe” from “over-exposure to a potential hazard.” Product recalls aren’t limited to cars! Even if you don’t buy processed foods, some raw ingredients (ground meats, sprouts, tomatoes) have been withdrawn from market once a contaminant was detected.
Don’t spend precious weeknights prepping your lunch. Instead, set aside one day per week. This is especially important if you have a family – and everyone can pitch in to help you get out of the kitchen faster. Lastly, prepping meals helps with portion control and allows easy access to ‘grab and go’ meals on busy mornings.
When you haven’t taken the time for healthy meal prep, you may opt for saturated fat- and/or carb-laden fast-food meals. As many who are troubled with intestinal gas can tell you, carbs are not your friend! If a meal causes intestinal gas or bloating, CharcoCaps® dietary supplement can be taken after you eat.
CharcoCaps® dietary supplement relieves gas and bloating FAST!* Enjoy your favorite foods without worry! *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.