Types of Meal Prep
- Entire Meals: Assemble (and sometimes cook) meals ahead of time for the whole family – lasagna, veggie pasta casserole, etc – and store in the refrigerator/freezer to eat later.
- Individual Meals: Prepare food and portion it out for single meals.
- Extra To Freeze: I do this with meats – ground turkey seasoned for tacos or spaghetti, breakfast burritos, marinated chicken.
- Ingredient Prep: Prepare parts of a meal (slice/chop vegetables, season/cook meat) to assemble later. I also include snack prep in this category.
Things To Consider
- How will you store it? I find it easier to store my pre-made meals (just for me) in containers and my snacks in grab-and-go baggies or small Sistema containers.
- How will you heat it up? When I worked full time (and ate at school), I took my lunch every day so the microwave was my only source of heat. All of my meal prepped food had to be microwavable. Now that I eat lunch at home, I have the option of the stove/oven so I do a lot more ingredient prepping rather than meals.
- Will you really eat it? I know this sounds silly, but you don’t want to waste your time making something that will just go to waste. I have made some meal prep recipes without actually trying them and turns out I didn’t like them. Time and food wasted. Same goes for how long you will wait to eat it. For me, I can only eat chicken for 2 days after it’s cooked because I think it tastes funny after that. There is no use in making 4 days of chicken for lunch if I won’t eat it.
- Make simple tweaks to your meals by swapping out the veggie, sauce, or seasoning.
- Only make 2 of the same meal instead of 5 for the whole work week. For example, prep 2 meals of tuna patties + vegetable and sweet potato, and 2 meals of turkey nachos. Now you have 4 lunches.
- Try the “ingredient prep” method instead of prepping entire meals. This way you can mix and swap ingredients to make new meals.
- Incorporate leftovers. Use leftovers in a different way to create a new meal. (I will do a post on this another time!)
Make It Easy
- Before serving supper, portion out lunch for you to have the next day.
- Repurpose leftovers, as mentioned above. Say you had buffalo chicken salad for supper on Monday night. On Tuesday night, use the remaining chicken, lettuce, and tomatoes for a buffalo chicken wrap.
- Prep while you are cooking supper. I do this at least once a week. If I am cutting/cooking chicken for that night’s meal, I go ahead and cook up some extra (again, ingredient prepping) for my lunch that week.
- Choose recipes that have overlapping ingredients to cut down on prep time. Example: using ground turkey for turkey nachos, turkey burgers, and turkey pasta. Same meat, but 3 totally different tasting dishes. I can brown the turkey at once, then season and prepare it differently.
What questions do you have about meal prep? I would love to help you!