These days, everyone is busy. Between work, fitting in exercise, and special occasions with family and friends, it is hard to have any time left over. As a result, making wholesome, homemade meals usually becomes the lowest priority. Especially after a long workday and a grueling workout, it is hard to find the motivation to make a nutritious meal and the takeout menu becomes even more attractive. However, planning meals in advance can save you time and money throughout the day, allowing you to do more of the activities you really love.
An essential component of meal prepping is always to have the basics on hand. Having simple foods like cut-up vegetables, pre-cooked rice, and pre-cooked or pre-marinated chicken or beef makes for whipping up a quick meal effortless. For example, simple stir fry can be whipped up in under 20 minutes from the above ingredients. Having prepped vegetables, pre-cooked sweet potatoes or pre-made yogurt parfaits also make for great snacks, helping to crush any late afternoon cravings. Setting aside an hour at the start of the week to prep sets you up for success later in the week.
Planning out a dinner menu at the beginning of the week also helps to minimize waste and keep your meals interesting. It is easy to fall into a rut of making the same dishes each week. Spending a couple of minutes hunting for a new recipe allows you to keep healthy eating interesting and to save time by only purchasing the ingredients once. Even trying a new seasoning blend or variation on a sauce can add a little spice to an old dish. Having a set menu helps to minimize the urge to get takeout when you know that you have the ingredients waiting for you, begging to be made into a delicious, healthy dish. Challenge yourself to try at least one new dish a week; who knows, you may find a new standby!
Batch cooking is where the real time-saver comes in. Make a double batch of dinner and take the rest in your lunches for the rest of the week. Or try prepping ingredients that can be used in multiple dishes, like chicken or hard-boiled eggs. Caramelizing onions for a soup? Make extra to top homemade turkey burgers. But meal prepping doesn’t have to be limited dinners and lunches; making a big batch of oatmeal at the beginning of the week allows for a quick grab and go breakfast after a morning workout or run.
Meal prepping is a great way to minimize overall cooking time, save money, and reduce food waste. Prepping your food in advance allows you to have more time for your workouts, be less stressed at your job, and spend more time with your loved ones. These basic tips can help you get started, and in no time you’ll be meal prepping like a pro!