6 Tips For Effective Meal Prep
Updated: Jul 14
Are you looking to improve your health and wellbeing? As a functional nutritionist, I aim to support each individual's health by providing them with the nutrients they need to function at their best. In order to put this into practice, meal planning and prepping may be extremely helpful to stay consistent. In this blog post, we will discuss six tips to optimize your meal prep.
Before we get into the six tips, I'd like to talk about THE MEAL PREP SPECTRUM:
Meal prep, in general, may feel daunting. Meal prepping doesn't have to be done in one way; instead, finding the most helpful and realistic approach for you and your lifestyle is critical. The amount of time you put into meal preparation is dependent on your personal requirements and can range anywhere from minimal to substantial:
On one end of the spectrum, you could prepare all your meals for the week on Sunday afternoon to where all your meals are pre-portioned and ready to go. This will require a fair amount of cooking and chopping but saves the most time come meal-time.
On the side of the spectrum, on Sunday, you may just plan what you'll eat throughout the week (without prepping anything) and simply make sure you have everything you need. This approach takes less time up-front, but it does still provide a meal plan for when things get hectic.
Most people's meal prep preferences fall somewhere in the middle between these two extremes. This might entail preparing a few dishes on Sunday and then planning to prepare the rest during mealtime. It could also imply chopping and prepping individual ingredients in advance, so they may be put together more quickly at mealtimes.
Here are 6 tips to help you get the most out of your meal prep:
Tip #1: Plan your meals ahead of time
Before you even start cooking, take the time to plan out your meals for the week. This will help minimize decision fatigue and allow you to hit the ground running when it comes time to cook. When planning your meals, consider what leftovers you can make or what dishes can be easily repeated throughout the week to minimize cooking time and food waste.
If you're looking for some inspiration on what meals to include in your plan, check out my blog post: Functional Nutrition 101: How to Eat Balanced Meals. This article offers a step-by-step guide as well as suggestions of balanced meal ideas that can be easily incorporated into your weekly meal plan.
Tip #2: Meal Prepping Before You Shop
Once you have your meals planned, it's time to make your grocery list and get cooking! When making your grocery list, I recommend creating two lists: one for the ingredients that are already in your pantry/fridge and one for items that need to be purchased. This will keep you organized and help prevent you from buying items that are already in your kitchen.
Tip #3: Choosing the Right Container Size
When meal prepping, it is important to use containers that are an appropriate size for how much food you are storing so as not to waste any leftovers! I typically use quart-sized containers for individual servings and gallon-sized containers for family-sized meals.
Tip #4: Cook Once, Eat Twice
One of the best ways to save time during meal prep is by cooking dishes that can be eaten twice. This could involve cooking a large batch of rice or quinoa on Sunday and then adding different protein and veggie options to the dish throughout the week. For example, you could add some grilled chicken and roasted broccoli on Monday for dinner, tofu scramble with peppers and onions on Tuesday for breakfast, a black bean soup/stew over rice or quinoa as a side along with your lunch salad on Wednesday, etc.
Tip #5: Prepping Raw Vegetables in Advance
If you're looking to add some raw vegetables to your meals throughout the week, I recommend prepping them ahead of time. This could involve chopping and washing veggies on Sunday so they are ready to go when you need them during the week. You can also use this strategy for prepping fruits if you know that you won't have time to slice and dice in the morning.
Tip #6: Portioning Out Snacks on Sunday
If you're someone who prefers having snacks ready during the week, it is a good idea to portion them out come meal prep day! This will save time during the week when you're looking for something to munch on and will help prevent you from eating unhealthy snacks. I typically portion out hard-boiled eggs, nuts, seeds, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. in small containers or baggies so they are easy to grab and go.
What are your favorite tips for optimal meal prep? Share them in the comments below!
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