Meal Prep: Saving Time and Money with Pre-Planned Meals
Are you looking for ways to save time and money in the kitchen? Meal prepping may be the answer. Meal prepping involves planning and preparing meals for the week ahead of time. This process can help save time, money, and invaluable stress, which makes it an excellent tool for busy households.
From meal-by-meal plans to ingredient lists and grocery lists, meal prepping simplifies the process of getting food on the table. With a little bit of effort and some creative thinking, meal prepping can yield delicious meals that can be enjoyed week after week. Plus, with all of the time saved, it’s easier to make healthier choices and eat better.
In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of meal prepping, the benefits of meal prepping, what equipment is needed to get started, 10 simple meal prep recipes, tips and tricks for efficient meal prepping, hacks for simplifying meal prepping, and more. By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to plan and prepare delicious meals for the entire week in no time!
Benefits of Meal Prep
Meal prepping has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the many benefits it provides. With meal prepping, you can save time and money by cooking in bulk, avoiding food waste, and having delicious homemade meals on hand for any occasion. Here are the top five benefits of meal prepping:
- Saves Time: Meal prepping saves you time in the long run. By setting aside a few hours a week to prepare and cook your meals for the entire week, you are freeing up more time for yourself during the week. You don’t have to worry about what to cook every day or spending time every day shopping for ingredients, prepping, and cooking.
- Saves Money: Meal prepping can also save you money. You can buy ingredients in bulk, which often leads to better deals. Additionally, preparing meals in advance limits the need for ordering takeout or eating out, which can add up quickly.
- Healthier Eating Habits: When you meal prep, you can customize your meals for your own dietary needs and preferences. You can also ensure that you are eating nutritious meals with fresh ingredients. This will help you make healthier food choices, and ultimately lead to better health.
- Limits Food Waste: Meal prepping helps minimize food waste because you only cook the amount of food that you need for the week. This reduces the amount of food that gets thrown away, which is beneficial not only for your wallet, but also for the environment.
- Convenience: Meal prepping also provides convenience. When you have healthy meals already prepared, you don’t have to worry about what you are going to eat when you are hungry. Just grab your meal and eat!
Meal prepping offers a variety of benefits, from saving you time and money to helping you make healthier food choices. There is no doubt that meal prepping will help you lead a healthier and more efficient life.
Basic Equipment for Meal Prep
Getting started meal prepping doesn’t have to be hard. All you need is some basic kitchen equipment, and you’ll be ready to go! Here are the essential items needed for meal prep:
- A good set of sharp knives – Invest in a good set of knives that are sharp and easy to handle. This will make the process of chopping, slicing, and dicing much easier.
- Cutting boards – You will need at least two cutting boards to prep your ingredients. Get one that is made of wood or bamboo for a more natural material.
- Measuring cups and spoons – Accurately measure out your ingredients with these. They will help you get the perfect proportions for each dish.
- Mixing bowls – A set of bowls in various sizes is useful for all sorts of meal prep tasks. Whether you’re mixing ingredients or assembling dishes, having a set of bowls handy will come in handy.
- Pots and pans – Having a non-stick pot and pan set is essential for meal prepping. Make sure to choose ones that are oven safe and can handle high heat.
These items should get you started with meal prepping. You can always add other items like blenders, food processors, or even air fryers, depending on your needs and budget. With the right equipment, you’re well on your way to become a pro meal prepper!
10 Simple Meal Prep Recipes
Meal prepping is a great way to save time throughout the week by doing the prep ahead of time. While meal prepping does take some time and effort upfront, it’s well worth it in the long run. Here are 10 simple meal prep recipes that don’t take too much time and are easy to make.
- Curried Veggie and Chickpea Bowls: This vegan-friendly meal is packed with flavor. It involves stirring together a curry sauce and cooking vegetables and chickpeas until tender. Serve the curried veggies over rice or quinoa for a balanced meal.
- Taco Salad Bowls: This Mexican-inspired recipe is easy to customize. Start by prepping your filling ingredients like bell peppers, corn and black beans. Assemble each bowl with desired toppings like avocado, sour cream and shredded cheese.
- Quinoa Bowl with Roasted Sweet Potatoes: This nutrient-dense meal has loads of flavor. Start by roasting sweet potatoes and onions until golden brown. Serve the roasted sweet potatoes over quinoa and top with your favorite ingredients like spinach, feta, olives and more.
- Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls: This hearty dish is packed with protein. Start by cooking quinoa and combine with other ingredients like roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts and feta cheese. Top with a drizzle of olive oil for extra flavor.
- Veggie and Hummus Wraps: These wraps are a great grab-and-go lunch. Start by spreading hummus on whole wheat wraps and top with cucumbers, tomatoes and any other desired toppings. Roll up and store in the refrigerator for a few days.
- Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry: This delicious meal can be made in one pan. Start by marinating chicken strips and stir-fry with your favorite vegetables. Serve over cooked rice or quinoa and top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
- BBQ Chicken and Veggie Skewers: These skewers are easy to make and can easily be customized. Start by marinating chicken and thread onto skewers with desired vegetables. Grill them until cooked through and brush BBQ sauce for an added kick.
- Mediterranean Orzo Salad: This unique dish is full of flavor. Cook orzo according to package instructions and mix in other ingredients like cucumber, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese and capers. Dress with a vinaigrette for added flavor.
- Southwest Black Bean Burrito Bowls: This Mexican-inspired dish comes together quickly. Start by prepping the toppings like cilantro, avocado, tomatoes, red onion and lettuce. Top cooked black beans and cooked rice with desired toppings then drizzle with a creamy dressing.
- Baked Salmon with Asparagus: This healthy dish is so easy to make. Reduce mess by prepping foil packets with salmon and asparagus. Place directly on the oven rack and bake until cooked through. Serve with cooked quinoa for a complete meal.
Tips and Tricks to Make Meal Prepping Easier
Meal prepping can be a great way to save time and energy during the week. With the right tips and tricks, you can make the meal prepping process faster and easier. Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Plan out your meals ahead of time. This will help ensure that you have all the ingredients you need and save time running back and forth to the grocery store.
- Use the same ingredients for multiple recipes. Instead of buying ten different ingredients, buy a few ingredients that can be used in more than one recipe. This will help reduce the amount of prep time needed.
- Invest in good storage containers and bags. Packing your meals in airtight containers will help keep them fresher for longer.
- Choose recipes that have overlapping ingredients. Plan out the recipes you want to cook so that there is minimal food waste when it comes to prepping the ingredients.
- Cook in bulk. If you’re making something like rice or mashed potatoes, double the recipe and freeze the leftovers for your next meal.
- Use a slow cooker. Invest in a slow cooker and use it to make meals such as stews and soups. This will save time from having to cook on the stove every night.
- Utilize your freezer. Take advantage of your freezer to store pre-made meals that can be quickly reheated.
- Batch cook your proteins. You can cook chicken, fish and other proteins in batches and store them for later meals.
- Pack your meals the night before. Set aside time in the evening to pack your meals for the following day. This will help you avoid feeling rushed in the morning.
- Experiment with different flavors. To prevent getting bored of your prepped meals, experiment with different flavors and spices to keep things interesting.
With these tips and tricks, you will be able to make meal prepping an easier and more efficient process.
Hacks for Simplifying Meal Prep
Meal prepping can seem daunting at first and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the process. But there are some simple changes you can make to simplify the meal prepping journey. These hacks will help you save time, energy, and money so you’ll be able to enjoy the process on a regular basis.
1. Plan Ahead
The best way to start meal prepping is to plan ahead. This requires sitting down each week and making a list of meals for the days ahead. This could include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Planning ahead allows you to get all the necessary ingredients in one shopping trip and also helps you plan for any dietary restrictions or allergies. Once your meals and snacks are planned out, you can prep those meals and store them in containers.
2. Use Meal Prep Containers
If you want to keep your meals organized and ready to go, you should invest in some meal prep containers. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, so it’s easy to find ones that fit your needs. This will make it easier to pack meals for the day and also helps you portion out snacks and meals for the week. Using meal prep containers also makes it easier to store leftovers and reheat them later on.
3. Bulk Cooking
If you want to save time on meal prepping, bulk cooking is the way to go. You can cook several portions of the same meal in one go and freeze them for later. This eliminates the need to spend time cooking every night and lets you have more time to relax. It also works great for breakfast items like omelets, pancakes and muffins. You can make a large batch of each and freeze for easy reheating during the week.
4. Make Everything Portable
If you’re always on the go, then it’s important to make sure your meals are portable. Invest in some microwavable containers for your meals, so you can take them with you anywhere. Don’t forget to pack some snacks too, like nuts, fruits, and other healthy options. This makes it easy to stay fueled throughout the day and make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
5. Invest in a Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are a great investment for meal preppers. You can toss in all your ingredients, set it and forget about it. This makes it easy to make soups, stews, tacos, and more without having to stand over a stove or oven. Plus, slow cookers are convenient to use and can make large batches of food which is great if you have a family.
6. Purchase Ready-Made Meals
Ready-made meals are a great solution if you don’t have time to meal prep. Companies like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron offer ready-made meals that you can have delivered directly to your door. All you have to do is follow the instructions and serve the meal. This is a great option for busy people who don’t have time to grocery shop and meal prep every week.
Meal prepping is an invaluable tool for anyone looking to save time and money while creating nutritious meals that can be enjoyed throughout the week. The benefits of meal prepping such as saving money and time, reducing food waste, and creating healthier options outweigh any of the perceived difficulties associated with it. With the use of basic kitchen equipment, simple recipes, and helpful hacks, meal prepping can be made easier and more efficient. We hope this guide has given you a good overview of all the great benefits of meal prepping and has got you inspired to give it a try!