When it comes to meal prepping, most people either love it or hate it — there’s rarely an in-between. If you’re one who hates it, I’m here to convince you otherwise.
It’s easy for meal prepping to feel like a huge task that only bloggers and bodybuilders do, but I promise, that isn’t the case. When broken down, it’s an easy, great way to make your week a little easier — and a little healthier, too.
It’s important to remember that the meals you make aren’t going to last forever in the fridge. Mayo Clinic suggests not eating leftovers after more than four days — after that, the chance of food poisoning increases dramatically.
These meal prepping hacks can help you get started with meal prepping, or make a process you’ve already established a little bit easier.
Containers, containers, containers
Trust me, having the right containers will make this process a million times easier. I use these, which are amazing because they can keep your food separated (i.e., if you’re making a pasta, you can keep the sauce in a separate container so it’s still good all week). You’ll thank yourself for buying them every week when you don’t need to search for matching lids to your tupperware after cooking (and when you’re done and see all of your food prepped in matching containers, you’ll feel super satisfied).
Prepare different sides and snacks
Let’s be honest — no one can eat the same exact thing every day for a week (and if you try to, it’ll be torture). One of the easiest ways to efficiently meal prep but still have some variety in your week is to prepare the same main course for every day, but to make different sides. Mixing up carbs and veggies can let you alter what you’re eating based on your mood, even though you already prepped it earlier. Even if your side or snack doesn’t require cooking, having it chopped up and portioned in the fridge can make a world of difference after a long day, or when you’re in a rush in the morning.
Use different spices and sauces
Remember, the key to this is variety. So, prepping a couple of different marinades to put on your food throughout the week and adding them each day (depending on what you’re in the mood for) can spice it up (literally!).
Assemble your meals later
If you’re making something with a sauce and put it together when you’re meal prepping, it might not taste good all week. Instead, keep your sauce or marinade separate from the main food, and add it the day you’re going to eat it.
Buy things in bulk
When you meal prep every week, Costco can become your best friend. Buying frozen foods that you can use weekly for different things — like frozen fruits to separate into baggies ready to go for smoothies — can save you trips to the grocery store and save you money in the long run.
Utilize your freezer
Sometimes, taking the time to make a recipe with the intent of freezing it can be all the prep you need. Things like soups and chili can be made, put in the freezer, and defrosted the day you want to eat it. This is also a super easy way to make sure you aren’t getting sick of what you’re eating, because you can eat it over the course of weeks, rather than days.
You don’t need to spend next Sunday making breakfast, lunch, and dinner for your week ahead. Instead, focus on one meal that you want to make really well. Having just one meal prepped for yourself every day can make all the difference in the world, and after getting used to that, you can decide whether or not you want to add more meals to your prep.
Don’t forget about your Crock-Pot and pressure cooker
Making a meal for the week doesn’t need to mean slaving over the stove all day on Sunday — it can be as easy as grocery shopping, throwing some ingredients in a Crock-Pot or pressure cooker, and calling it a day. Find recipes that you love, and use it to streamline your process.
Make things you actually like
When you’re making a recipe for the whole week, trying something you never had before that you might not like probably isn’t the best decision. Make things that you know you like, and that you won’t mind eating multiple days in a row.
Remember that it doesn’t need to be fancy
When you Google meal prep recipes and see beautifully-staged photos of perfectly-prepped meals, it can make the task feel more daunting than it is. If you like chicken breast and veggies and think you can eat that every day, make that! Your meal prep should be catered specifically to you and what you prefer to eat.