For too many of us, the difference between a home cooked meal and takeout is the level of exhaustion we feel when we get home from work. The art of meal prepping, once mastered, turns your drab meals into fab meals, regardless of your full calendar. To help you get there, here are some meal prepping tips.
Plan in Advance
When it comes to meal prepping, advanced planning is going to be your best friend. Not only does this help you edit your shopping list to prevent overspending on the wrong items, but it also gives you a chance to think through what will actually work for the week ahead.
For instance, if you know you’re going to be working late several nights out of the week, you can pack quick dinners that take little to no cooking come dinner time. Allow your schedule to dictate your prep work, which will ensure that whatever you make doesn’t sit in a container in the back of your fridge until it becomes an unrecognizable science experiment. (Guilty.)
Stick to Your Tastes
One of the biggest faux pas of meal prepping is the dissonance between mind and stomach. Sure, you may want to eat healthier and incorporate more kale into your diet, but when it comes time for lunch and your kale salad is waiting for you in the fridge, are you more likely to eat it or toss it?
While it’s always okay to push the limits and try something new, make sure you are paying attention to what you actually enjoy, not what you want to enjoy. If you’re looking to try new foods, do so in small doses. Replace rice with quinoa or sub out chips and cookies for nuts and fresh fruit.
Whatever changes you make should be done slowly and according to your preferences, so you don’t end up with a week’s worth of lunches that make your stomach turn.
Don’t Push It
Most importantly, remember that meal prep requires a lot of cooking on the front end to ensure you won’t need to touch the stove again through the rest of the week.
Finding a balance when it comes to meal complexity is a must to avoid spending all day in the kitchen. For example, if you are making an involved risotto for dinner, perhaps you tone back the complexity of your breakfast and lunches for the week—opt for a blender-ready breakfast smoothie and simple salad for lunch.
If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, feel free to make your meal prep as complicated as possible. But if the idea of spending your Sunday near the stove has you itching for a nap, make sure your meal prep agenda is as relaxed as you’d like to be on Sunday night.
Meal prepping the week ahead shouldn’t eat up (excuse the pun) all of your free time. Instead, with these tips and tricks in mind, planning your meals should take no time at all, while yielding delicious results. Simply plan, execute, and enjoy a stress-free week of healthy, delicious food.