7 Best Meal Prep Tips
03.23.2020 Tips & Tricks
During the coronavirus quarantine period, you may be taking advantage of this time to organize your pantry, clean out your closet, or meal prep for the week. If you’re in the latter category, we can help whether you’re a meal prep beginner or have been using this method for months.
Depending on what type of planner you are, meal prepping can either be fun or overwhelming. Fortunately, there isn’t one “right” way to meal prep. At its core, meal prepping is simply preparing large batches of meals or single ingredients – such as meat, vegetables, or fruit – to build meals with later. Our seven tips below will make sure you meal prep as smartly as possible, so you feel like this method is making your life easier – not harder!
1. Make a Meal Plan
First things first, sit down and think about the week ahead and how many meals you need to make. Do you have more dinner plans with friends than usual this week? Instead of focusing on dinner prep, maybe you’ll want to prep more snacks or try a new lunch recipe. Make a list of all the meals you don’t have commitments for and decide what to make from there.
When deciding what to meal prep, it may be beneficial to theme your days, such as Meat Mondays and Taco Tuesdays. This way, you won’t feel overwhelmed with coming up with meal ideas from scratch every single week. You can also choose recipes based on what you currently have in your fridge and pantry.
2. Schedule Prep Time
Sunday is the ideal day to do your meal prep for the week ahead. But if you have a commitment every Sunday that you can’t miss, determine another chunk of time – typically a couple of hours from start to clean-up is enough to meal prep for the week. To make sure you stay on schedule, have someone hold you accountable for meal prepping. You can meal prep with a friend or tell your significant other that Sundays from 3 to 5 pm is your meal prep time.
3. Always Meal Prep Breakfast
Although breakfast is the most important meal of the day, many people don’t have time to eat it when getting ready in the morning. Because most of us already eat the same thing for breakfast every day (or at least variations of it), breakfast is easy to meal prep!
If you’re looking for a new breakfast recipe, check out our Breakfast Ideas Pinterest board for pancake and sausage breakfast tacos; country breakfast bowls; egg, ham, and cheese breakfast pockets; cheddar bacon scones; English muffin breakfast pizzas; and more!
4. Stock Up on Containers
Meal prep is all about the containers – How else are you going to store all your meals for the week? Consider investing in a set of containers that you not only love the look of (to get yourself excited to meal prep), but are also leak-proof, microwave and dishwasher-friendly, and sturdy enough for the trip from home to work and back again every day.
You may also consider purchasing a variety of sized containers – small for snacks and medium or large for full meals – and containers with separated portions so your carrots and dip don’t mix with your spaghetti.
5. Shop in Bulk
Lots of meal prep recipes rely on ingredients like grains, nuts, and beans which are all much cheaper if you buy them in bulk bins at grocery stores. This is also a great way to test new types of grain, such as farro and buckwheat, without committing to a whole package.
Dry ingredients are not the only food you can buy in bulk, you can also purchase your favorite meat entrées in large quantities at your favorite specialty grocery stores – UW Provision’s The Meat Market in Middleton and Local Source Foods in Sun Prairie. For example at our retail stores, you can pick up boneless and skinless chicken breasts in both 10 pound bags and 40 pound boxes.
6. Bust Out the Slow Cooker
Your crock pot is now your new BFF – or meal prep secret weapon! You can wake up Sunday morning, toss a chuck roast and some ingredients inside, set the temperature, and forget about it until Sunday evening when you want to portion out your meals for the week.
You can then add fresh fruits and veggies on the side or sprinkle shredded cheese and fresh herbs on top before digging in to make your meals feel more fresh.
7. Know When to Cut Corners
One of the biggest misconceptions about meal prepping is that it requires making everything from scratch. This is simply not true as meal prepping doesn’t mean you have to churn your own butter. You can absolutely stock up on shortcut ingredients, such as pre-made rotisserie chicken, freshly frozen vegetables, and canned black beans. These shortcuts will not only make sure you don’t get overwhelmed by meal prep, but they also ensure you don’t spend hours and hours in the kitchen every Sunday.