Don’t cook a big batch of one meal and divide it up.
This is probably the most significant mistake people make when meal prepping. While it may sound good, realistically, by day 2-3, we’re going to be bored of eating the same thing. Boredom can lead to unhealthy cravings and temptations. The goal here is to set ourselves up for success. So instead of doing a massive batch of 1-2 different meals, we can individually prep ingredients that we can mix and match to create flavorful and healthy meals throughout the week.
Plan before prepping
Before you even start prepping, take at least 5-10 minutes to think about what you want to eat for the week. Think about how you can mix and match different prepped ingredients throughout the week for quick, tasty, and healthy meals. From there, you can plan your grocery list and make a plan that maximizes your time efficiency.
Prep your veggies for the week
Eating a healthy diet is going to involve a lot of vegetables. Be open-minded about trying new vegetables and be willing to try vegetables again that you think you may not like. It’s common for people to believe they don’t like a particular vegetable because they have only had it poorly prepared. There’s a HUGE difference between steaming a bag of frozen broccoli and roasting seasoned fresh broccoli. Method of preparation, freshness, and seasoning goes a long way in transforming vegetables into something that will keep you wanting more. Try a vegetable in several different ways and styles before making the final decision about whether or not it can be a part of your healthy lifestyle. You just might be surprised! If you don’t want to pre-cook vegetables, chop any vegetables you plan on using throughout the week to save time and store them in the refrigerator.
Make an all-purpose sauce
Healthy food doesn’t need to be boring! Sauces can elevate your meals to another level. Store-bought sauces are often super processed, high in calories, and full of added sugar. Making homemade sauces and dressings not only easy but healthier and tastes better! A food processor will open up many more options for sauces and dressings, so investing in one is something that will make your healthy lifestyle easier. However, plenty of options just requires a bowl and a whisk or a jar with a lid.
Prep grains or proteins
Making grains, legumes, or other proteins during the week can be a bit time-consuming. There are many options, from preparing whole grains like quinoa, farro, wild/brown/black rice to legumes like beans or lentils. Canned beans can save time during the week but preparing dried beans is more cost-effective and tastier. While preparing dried beans or lentils, you can add spices or other aromatics (like onions and garlic), which will take your weekday meals to the next level. For non-vegetarian proteins, prepare and cook them, so they are ready to be quickly added to any meal. Make a batch of hardboiled eggs for a quick snack or to slice and add to salads.
Make flavor boosters
You can make many dips and other flavor boosters while meal prepping to enhance and add flavor to your meals and snacks. For example, you can make a jar of pickled veggies in less than five minutes. Pickled vegetables are great because they have a long shelf life and add acidity to any dish. They can spruce up any salad, grain bowl, or sandwich. Store-bought pickles and pickled vegetables often contain unnecessary added ingredients and artificial colors. Once you make your first batch of pickled vegetables, you’ll never go back to store-bought again! Other options include homemade hummus, almond butter, salsa, and a spiced seed mix.
Buy pre-prepped ingredients or convenience items.
There are many options for this in the grocery store, such as peeled and chopped onions, pre-washed lettuce mixes, and spiralized veggies. These items can save you a lot of time during the week and while meal prepping. However, stick to natural ingredients and stay away from processed foods. A good tip for this is to do most of your grocery shopping on the perimeter of the store and avoid the center aisles where most processed foods are located.
Watch cooking shows and videos for inspiration.
Cooking is a skill that’s developed over time, so don’t get discouraged if you have a few disasters in the kitchen. Watch cooking shows or YouTube videos to help improve your cooking skills and for inspiration. You will improve! Once you start having more success in the kitchen, you’ll be more likely to stick to a healthy diet. Being able to cook your own healthy meals is essential for long-term success.
Do you have any other tips for successful meal prepping? Let us know!