Meal Prep can make or break your diet. It can also save you time and money when done correctly if you prepare just enough of what you need for the week.
Meal prep helps to keep me on track with my daily health goals, allows me to portion my meals, and saves me tons of time and money.
Before I started meal prepping, I was spending between $50 and $100 weekly on breakfast and lunch alone (don’t even get me started on dinner). I also had little control of what I was putting into my body which caused by weight to fluctuate often.
However, many often forgo the art of meal prepping with thoughts such as, "It takes too much time." or "It looks like a lot of work." Well, I'm here to tell you that meal prepping is not as hard as it sounds, when you know what you are up against.
BENEFITS OF SUCCESSFUL MEAL PREPPING
- It can help you save money.
- It can help you save time.
- It can help you manage your weight with portion control.
- It can help you maintain a balanced diet.
- It can help you reduce stress and last-minute decisions that can wreck your diet.
Now that you know what the benefits are, let’s figure out how we can get started…
7-STEPS TO GET STARTED WITH MEAL PREPPING
Choose a specific day of the week to prep your meals.
Stick up on shelf-stable ingredients such as pasta, beans, grains, jarred sauces, rice, oils, spices, etc.
On meal prep day, focus on foods that take the longest to prepare such as meat, dried beans, roasted veggies, etc.
Consider staples and easy to grab foods such as hardboiled eggs, washed greens for salads, cooked beans, etc.
Prep food you don’t want to cook immediately such as marinated meat and freeze in freezer-safe bags for easy access later.
Make extra portions that can be used for the following week, but be sure to store in freezer-safe containers and date/label when it was prepared.
Pack meals in individual containers that you can easily grab and go, and portion out foods based on your dietary needs and goals.
HOW I STORE MY PREPPED FOODS
Make sure you use appropriate storage containers. Freezer bags are durable and less likely to puncture or tear after long periods of time in the freezer. Therefore, they keep foods fresh for longer periods of time and can slow down the effects of freezer burn.
Also, containers that provide an air-tight seal are best to preserve the freshness and delicious flavors of your meals. Though storage containers are important components of meal prep storage, food storage practices, such as the temperature at which you store foods and the types of food you store, are also crucial to meal prep success.
Refrigeration and freezing are important components of successful meal prepping. Improper storage practices can ruin all your planning and toss your savings out the window. Here are a few pointers to remember...
Refrigeration should be at 40° F degrees or lower.
· 1-2 days storage for cooked meat and poultry.
· 3-4 days storage for whole meats, fish, poultry, soups and stews.
· 5 days storage for cooked beans.
· 1 week storage for hardboiled eggs or chopped veggies as long as they’re stored in air tight containers.
· 2 weeks storage for soft cheese that has been opened. 5-6 weeks storage for hard cheese that has been opened.
Freezing should be at 0° F or lower.
· 2-3 months storage for soups, stews, and cooked beans.
· 3-6 months storage for cooked meat and poultry (includes ground meat).
· 6-8 months storage for berries and chopped fruit stored in freezer-safe bags.
· 8-12 months storage for veggies (if blanched first) depending on the vegetable.
If done correctly, meal prepping can be your first step towards a healthier you. Now go forth and prep those meals! Happy prepping!