If you have not yet tried meal prepping or, have tried but it seemed too overwhelming, this post is for you. I am fortunate now that I work from home I do not need to meal prep as much as I used to. I do still take a chunk of time to make my home made snacks, treats, extra veggies, condiments, home made personal care products...well, let's just say I am making a lot from scratch these days so I need to set aside time to get it done. I took a break from cooking most of my meals for awhile because I was tired of cooking for just my daughter and I with her being a big carnivore and allergic to fish and I was more of a pescatarian. Admittedly the food choices were lacking during that time and I allowed her to fall into some less healthy options. But, I got back into my meal planning and preparation routine and re-discovered enjoyment in cooking. If you are stuck in a cycle of lacking both nutrients and exciting meals each week or find that you are in a take out/eating out rut, read on my friend! Here are 3 beginner friendly tips to get you started toward your best organized foodie self.
It can get overwhelming if your desire is to make ahead every single meal and snack and you are just starting out. So, start with a single meal or two to allow yourself time to adjust to this new routine and not wallowing in a pile of "I can't do this-it's too much-screw it-I'm ordering take out" mess.
2. Ok so you are only making a meal or two, which ones do you choose to make? Start with recipes that you already know well or have made in the past and pick meals that will make your life a little easier and less stressful if you had them prepared ahead of time.
If dinner is the culprit of a weekly melt down, make one meal you can reheat for dinner all week. You can also prep the ingredients ahead of time for a few meals (chop those veggies and marinade that meat). Another option is to put together everything you need for a slow cooker meal. Perhaps instead make a large enough batch of two freezer friendly meals and after a few weeks you will start to accumulate your own variety of pop out of the freezer, let thaw, and viola meals!
Do you strive to consume a healthy breakfast but, find yourself driving through Dunkin' Doughnuts for your morning java and breakfast sandwich? Set out your coffee the night before (whether its a keurig pod in and the cup ready or preset the traditional coffee pot) and add all the ingredients you need into your blender for a smoothie that you can just give a quick blast in the morning and take on the way out the door. One example of a great make ahead meal are mini crustless quiches. First saute veggies of choice and some breakfast meat if that is your preference. Divide that into the cups of a muffin pan. Scramble eggs and pour the egg mixture over the veggies. Pop them in the oven for 20 min. on 350. Store in the fridge and reheat as needed.
If you frequently stop at convenience stores or gravitate toward vending machines during the day, take the time to throw together a trail mix or nut mixture, make your own snack bars, pack some yogurt and fruit, or cheese and home made crackers for example. What ever your snack of choice do the chopping, baking, cooking, and portioning out at the beginning of the week for easy access.
3. If the thought of cooking ahead if time is causing a mental road block for you, do something that seems small with the time you have. Chop those fruit and veggies to snack on alone or with a good natural hummus/dip. Hard boil eegs for breakfast, snack, or dinner. Portion out servings of snacks in single bags. Refill water and drink bottles so they are ready to grab. These are the things that I will do when I have a few minutes to spare but, not a lot of time. Once you get comfortable with these little steps that take less time, you can gain confidence in your ability to add extra cooking to your routine. Start slow, give yourself time to build up to make this part of your lifestyle.