If you've read out previous blog post about the benefits of meal prep, or have just heard of the incredible benefits that it can offer, you might be ready to give it a proper go. But as with starting anything for the first time, sometimes the first step can be the most difficult. Especially if you don’t feel equipped enough to begin.
Here are some top tips on getting started and facilitating meal prep into what may soon be your easy-breezy lifestyle.
1. Prepping for meal prep
Before you start, begin with brainstorming what type of food you would like to include in your diet and specific favourite meals that you like to eat. Put pen to paper (or digitally make notes) and start a log of your favourite meals, meal ideas, recipe sites, YouTube channels, food blogs etc - use this to start collecting healthy recipes! You can also have a scroll through the blog section of our website & Instagram to have some inspiration for how to prepare protein snacks and breakfast meals.
It may also be fun and helpful to nominate certain meals or foods for different days of the week. For example, Vegan Mondays or Stir-Fry-Days. Having some consistency week to week will help you to ease into the routine more smoothly.
2. Things to consider
Start small and gradually get better. Start with an aim of dinners for 2/3 weeknights and work your way from there!
Choose a specific day of the week to plan your weekly menu and write out your weekly grocery shopping list.
As your meal prep routine becomes more consistent, you may begin to notice a pattern of items on your grocery list that you purchase week to week. This will allow you to look out for deals or offers to stock up on frequently used ingredients that you can buy in bulk. For example, rice, grains, pasta, canned sauces, oils, dried herbs and spices etc.
When you’re cooking for meal prep, focus on food that takes the longest to cook such as proteins, grains, beans and legumes. This will save you a lot of time during the week because it works like the foundation of your prepped meals.
Consider recipes that you can enjoy cold or may gently reheat without damaging the fats and proteins, which would reduce its nutritional value. Also, consider recipes that you already enjoy leftovers of and can cook easily.
Make extra that you can then store as food for another day or another extra meal that you can freeze for a different week. Be sure to label the food you place in your freezer so you know what you have in there!
Individual storage containers are a sure way of ensuring portion control and help give a head start of minimal mess/clean up later in the week.
Meal prep is an amazing way to save time, money and energy. And a key step for successful meal prep is proper refrigeration and freezing. Forgotten produce or cooked food sitting in the back of your fridge for too long can spoil and lead to more, rather than less, food waste.
A good tip is to label prepped items so you can keep track of when to eat it by. Organise the stored items so that the oldest meals and highly perishable products such as fresh herbs, vegetables and chopped fruits are kept to the front and in plain sight. This will help you remember to use them!
Not all foods respond the same way to freezing, some foods work better than others. For example, cooked meals freeze well in airtight containers. However, food with a high content of moisture such as salad or watermelon, become mushy when thawed after freezing.
Foods that hold up well in storage and tastes palatable when taken out of storage are the most ideal foods to use for meal prep.
4. High-quality food storage containers
High-quality food storage containers are super important for keeping your meal prep food hot or cold. The ideal material that keeps food hot or cold is thermal or stainless steel or glassware. Glassware might be the best solution for cold foods, and as the name suggests, thermal generally works best for hot foods.
Reusable plastics or any plastic storage containers are not recommended for packing meal prep foods as they release BPA. And even non-BPA plastics may contain harmful chemicals that may leach into your food. Moreover, heating plastics in the microwave is not ideal.
5. Keep it simple
This is probably the most straightforward and valuable advice to anyone looking to start to meal prep.
The basics are simple. With all the information above, we hope you feel more than ready to begin your meal prep journey! The key things to remember are to pick recipes of meals that you like and enjoy and will likely eat often. Schedule a time and day to grocery shop and meal prep. Make enough food and prep balanced meals! Meal by meal, you’ll soon find yourself becoming a pro!