Have you attempted any kind of meal prep yet this year? I love the idea of having a fridge full of already chopped vegetables and fruit, marinated meat, and prepped lunches. Of course, the whole thing can be overwhelming if you’re new to the glory that is meal prep! Check out these meal prep tips to help you have a successful week of stress-free meals!
Have a plan
This is probably the most important part of meal prep: The plan. If you don’t come up with some sort of cooking plan, you’ll end up spending more time than intended because you weren’t being intentional.
Making a plan can be as simple as writing down exactly which vegetables to chop, slice, etc. If you’re doing cooking as well as chopping produce, make sure you know what you’ll be doing first and in what order you’ll be doing things.
In our household, my main focuses are making breakfast and chopping vegetables. I’ll make a list of what breakfast I’ll be making and which vegetables need prepped, and then I’ll figure out how to maximize my time and get both done in the least amount of time possible.
Make sure you have everything
How horrible is it when you go to make dinner or prep something, and you realize you forgot a key ingredient? I’ve done this so many times. Make a list of all the ingredients you need just like for a shopping trip; then look around your kitchen to see what else you’ll need to buy.
Try to prep at a time when you won’t be interrupted
I know this can be hard, especially if you have young children. You have to be intentional about the time you have. Can you do a little bit in the early mornings before the kids wake up? Or take an hour in the afternoon to dedicate to prep while you keep the kids busy (playing with dad, letting them watch TV… yep, I’m that mom)?
Whatever the case may be, uninterrupted time will be your best friend. You’ll be much more efficient and feel so much better once it’s all done.
Use good containers
One thing you’ll learn with meal prep is that you’ll need containers. Lots and lots of containers, of many different sizes. If you’re making full dinners/lunches, you may want containers with compartments; if you’re just chopping vegetables like lettuce and carrots, you’ll need bigger containers.
Any brand will do, as long as they’re sturdy and serve your purpose. We mainly use Rubbermaid containers just because they’re cheap but durable. The big ones are good for steaming whole bags of frozen veggies in the microwave, while the small 2-cup containers hold chopped onions and celery pretty well.
I’ve now dedicated a section of my fridge just to prepped veggies/side items. This way all I have to do is look on that shelf to see what we have and make sure none of it goes to waste!
Prep in batches
If you’re a mom, then you know that sometimes you just can’t do a lot of prep at once. There’s no shame in breaking up your prep into different days! For me, Sundays are usually when I chop and prepare all of the vegetables for the week. But that doesn’t give me time to make pancakes, or whatever breakfast Allison will eat that week. So I’ll save the pancake making for either Monday or Tuesday morning right before she wakes up.
Cook in all areas of the kitchen
To be the most efficient you can with your time, use different kitchen appliances to cook your food! For example, you can simultaneously bake muffins, make waffles in your waffle iron, and cook up some breakfast burrito mix on the stove.
I do this quite often and it really helps me get as much done as possible with my limited time. My preferred order of cooking is:
- Prepare the muffin batter first, then bake
- Prepare the waffle batter, and pour in the first waffle while the muffins bake
- Cook the eggs and sausage on the stove while waiting for the muffins and the next waffle to finish
It’s kind of a fine art and can take some time to get into the groove; this is why it’s important to do prep like this at a time when you know you won’t be interrupted.
If you know you’ll have a few spare hours on a weekend, how would you feel about filling your freezer with a whole month’s worth of breakfast? I’ve created a 30-Day Breakfast Freezer Cooking Plan that will get you 90 servings of breakfast items that easily freeze and reheat! Here’s what you’ll be making:
- Egg and cheese muffin sandwiches
- Sausage, egg, and cheese burritos
- Carrot cake muffins
- Blueberry baked oatmeal
- Pumpkin zucchini bread
Also included in this freezer plan are:
- A full shopping list
- Step-by-step cooking and assembly directions (With pictures)
- Labels for your freezer bags (Avery 8163 labels)
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In about 3 hours, you’ll be able to cook, assemble, and freeze one month’s worth of breakfast. And the best part? I calculated the cost, and you’ll only pay between $30 and $50 for ingredients, depending on where you live and what you already have in your pantry.
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What other tips do you have for meal prep? Share in the comments below!