Making meal prep a part of your weekend routine may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! These practical tips will not only save you time and money but most importantly they will help you to make healthy choices all week long.
Other posts in the series include Meal Plan Like A Boss, Easy Slow Cooker Chicken, Hello Fresh Review, Sun Basket Review, Meal Kit Delivery Services – How Do They Compare and Who Are They For?, Meal Planning and Meal Prep Tips and FAQs
Let’s face it most people do not want to spend hours in the kitchen on Sunday afternoon meal prepping for the week after they have spent time meal planning. I know I don’t! I also know that if I don’t spend time on the weekend doing some meal prep, I regret it ALL week long!
We all have different size families and different schedules which mean there is no one size fits all when it comes to meal prep. Simply cleaning and chopping produce may be all one person needs to do while another may spend hours batch cooking and freezing meals.
I fit somewhere in between there depending on my week. I do much more prep during the school year than I do in the summer because my teaching schedule is much lighter in the summer.
No matter what your situation, the important thing is to do what works for you and your family. These practical tips will help you to Meal Prep Like A Boss!
1. Clean Kitchen
In my Meal Plan Like A Boss post, one of my first tips was to clean out your fridge. This not only helps with meal planning but it is so important when you meal prep. You need space to put all your prepped food.
I also like to make sure my kitchen is completely clean. Clear clutter from counters and make sure there are no dishes in the sink. This will give you room to work and will help to keep things organized and flowing.
2. Storage Containers
Make sure you have plenty of storage containers and/or storage bags. It can be frustrating to get things prepped and then not have enough storage containers.
In the last few months, I have been transitioning from plastic containers to good quality glass containers. I first purchased some glass Pyrex containers, but I didn’t like the seal on the lids. Not sure they would do well in the freezer.
I did some research (you know me I love my research) and Glasslock’s Oven Safe Container Set was number one on Reviewed’s best storage containers on Amazon list. I ordered a set and LOVE them! The set has 18 pieces and contains a variety of sizes. They are airtight, leak-proof, and oven safe.
I also like using glass jars, especially for freezing individual servings of soup. It’s important to leave some room at the top for the liquid to expand, and be sure to use jars that have straight sides and a wide mouth. If there is a curve, the liquid will not have room to expand which may cause the jar to crack.
When using plastic storage bags, be sure to let all of the air out and freeze flat. This will allow you to stack multiple bags on top of each other. If you are using plastic containers, be sure they are BPA free.
3. Make It Fun
Music, podcasts, and audiobooks definitely help set the mood and make the whole meal prep task a lot more fun!
Alexa is mine and my husband’s best friend when we are working in the kitchen. My husband likes to put his Pandora stations on shuffle and jam to his favorite music. I like to listen to podcasts or audiobooks. Did you know Alexa can read Audible books?
I like to have multiple things in the works while I’m prepping. Utilize your oven, cooktop, and slow cooker. You can have veggies roasting in the oven, quinoa, and hard-boiled eggs on the stove, and soup or chili in the slow cooker.
Sunday I made my marinara sauce, hard-boiled eggs, and prepped some of my produce for the week. I prepped everything for the sauce first. Once the sauce was cooking, I put the eggs on and then washed and chopped the rest of my produce. This might seem obvious but there have been plenty of times that I start prepping my produce first when I could have had other things cooking.
5. Prep Produce
At the bare minimum, I like to get some of my produce washed and chopped on Sunday. This is the biggest time saver for me during the week. I know some nutritional value can be lost when prepping produce ahead of time but I’m ok with that.
Grabbing fruit for breakfast, lunches, or a snack is much easier and more likely to happen if it’s ready to go. 9 times out of 10 if strawberries, pineapple, or cantaloupe go bad in this house it’s because I didn’t prep it over the weekend. I try to prep some fruit on Sunday and then again mid-week.
There are so many nights when the last thing I want to do after work is chop vegetables for whatever meal we have planned. On Sunday, I try to prep all of our veggies for our meals through Wednesday. I don’t like to go beyond that because something may come up and our plans may change and also the produce just isn’t as good prepped that far in advance.
- Placing a paper towel in with your greens will absorb the moisture and keep them crisp.
- Store unripe avocados in a paper bag on the counter.
- Fruits left in plastic ripe faster. It’s best to keep them loose.
- Wait until you are ready to use herbs before you chop them.
6. Cook Once, Eat Twice
Double Double Double! This is my biggest tip. It’s the only way that we are able to maintain our clean eating lifestyle. I double or sometimes even triple almost everything I make. It’s a huge timesaver and saves us from making unhealthy choices because we don’t have anything to eat.
Leftovers can become lunch for the next day, dinner for another night during the week, or a freezer meal. Components of a meal can be used to make another meal.
Ground beef for tacos one night can be used for a taco salad the next day or chili later in the week. Cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot on Sunday can be used for soup, salads, paninis, pizza, and/or tacos. Marinara sauce can be used for pasta and then used another time for pizza sauce. Leftover chili can be used for baked potatoes.
I like to make oatmeal on Monday mornings and then eat the leftovers for breakfast during the week. I just add a little milk and reheat it. Breakfast for dinner is a favorite around here. I make huge batches of pancakes and freeze the leftovers for quick breakfasts.
Label whatever you are putting in the freezer with the contents and date. This is another one that might seem obvious, but I have neglected to do this countless times. I put an item in the freezer saying to myself, “I don’t need to label this. I’ll remember what it is and when I put it in here.” WRONG!
It’s easy to label plastic storage bags with a Sharpie. Be sure to do it before you add the contents to the bag. What about plastic containers, glass jars, and glass containers? Painter’s tape works well. Just use your Sharpie and write the contents on the tape and place it on the container. The tape stays on after the item is frozen.
You could also write directly on the container with a wet erase marker. I’ve been a teacher for 30 years and didn’t even know there was such a thing until last week when I was doing research for this post. I made a quick run to Staples and purchased a package. Sure enough, they do work! Just write on the container before you put anything in it.
Spending a little time on meal prep over the weekend will help you to maintain a healthy lifestyle, save money, and help your week to run smoothly!
Do you have any meal prep tips? Please leave them in the comments! I would love to include them in a future post.
Don’t forget to check out the other posts in this series! Meal Plan Like A Boss, Easy Slow Cooker Chicken, Hello Fresh Review, Sun Basket Review, Meal Kit Delivery Services – How Do They Compare and Who Are They For?, Meal Planning and Meal Prep Tips and FAQs