We all have busy schedules and it can be daunting to make sure that what you and your family are eating is healthy. Meal prepping may seem like an even bigger task, but you will likely be surprised to learn that following a few simple steps can make it and your life easier (and healthier!).
Here are a few steps to get you started with meal prepping. The sooner you put them into action, the quicker you can build the habit, and the sooner you will reap the benefits.
Meal Prepping Made Easy
- Prepare your containers
Stock up on reusable, airtight food containers that will help keep ingredients or meals stay fresh longer and taste better. Opt for crystal clear food containers with removable dividers that allow you to see what is in each food container without taking off the cover. Get jars or food containers that are microwave and dishwasher-safe with airtight lids to prevent leaks.
- Keep a stock of necessary pantry supplies
Have these essentials on hand, so you only need to worry about getting fresh items in your weekly supermarket run. Stocking up on necessary supplies will make your meal planning efforts more efficient.
- Whole grains: rice, quinoa, oats, barley, whole-wheat pasta
- Pulses: chickpeas, lentils, beans, peas
- Legumes: canned or dried, different kinds of beans
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chia, flax
- Lean protein: eggs, tofu, frozen or canned seafood, cheese, lean cuts of meat
- Whole fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, plums, peaches, pears
- Canned goods: tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, artichokes, olives, corn, tuna, salmon, chicken
- Oils: olive, avocado, sunflower, coconut and other healthy oils used for cooking
- Baking essentials: flour, cornstarch, baking powder
- Others: peanut butter, potatoes, mixed nuts, dried fruits
- Have a variety of spices on hand
Making flavorful and delectable food dishes is obtainable with the use of the right herbs and spices.
It can spell the difference between authentic meals and one that’s plain-tasting. Besides being flavor-enhancers, herbs and spices are packed with plant compounds that provide various health benefits. So pick up 2–3 jars of your favorite dried herbs and spices every time you go grocery shopping to have a steady supply in your cupboard.
- Prioritize meal planning
An effective way to include a meal planMeal Plannning routine into your lifestyle is to make it a priority. It is advisable to designate a block of time for planning. You can even put it on your calendar, so you don’t forget.
For some people, preparing a meal plan can take as little as 10–15 minutes per week. If your meal plan includes preparing some food items in advance or pre-portioning meals, you may need a longer time. Whatever your strategy, the key to success is making time and integrating it into your routine. You can also download a meal prep app to help you get organized.
- Organize your recipes
Save your favorite recipes in a designated location for easy access. It can be in a digital format accessible on your electronic devices or a physical area in your house if you have paper versions. Dedicating a space for your recipes saves time and helps minimize stress generally associated with meal planning.
- Determine how much food you want to prep in advance
Once you have determined the amount of food, say meals for the next three days, cook meals in batches. Cook the meals either on Sunday and another day of the week, place in different (microwavable) containers, then freeze for use later on.
To also help you with meal preparation, you can cook healthy one-pot meals that can also be frozen. The benefit of one-pot meals is that there are recipes that only call for as little as four to five ingredients, and most of them can be found in your pantry. You can even use leftovers!
- Easy clean up options
If your pans are notorious for stick and causing you to spend a long time scrubbing, it may be time to upgrade your cookware.
Many people put off cooking because of all the extra cleaning that comes with it. We suggest using enameled cast iron pan like the ones at https://unocasa.com/products/tagine-pot. Enameled cast iron is the easy to clean version of cast iron. You will get all the benefits like even heating and better cooking temperatures from the cast iron so you don’t have to sacrifice food quality for convenience.
How long will cooked meals last in your freezer?
Depending on the recipe and ingredients used, cooked food can remain refrigerated for about 3–5 days or frozen for 3–4 months. For safety precautions, maintain ref temperatures between 40° F and 140° F. Use proper food containers and seal in airtight packaging to keep bacteria out and prevent food-borne sickness. Proper food storage will also protect the flavor of your food.