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5 Tips for Better Meal Prep

by Sara on April 5, 2017

Does the idea of “meal prep” conjure up images of endless Tupperware containers filled with chicken and rice and broccoli?  If so let me be the first to say, I’m sorry.  And second, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Meal prep is not just reserved for those trying to loose weight.  Meal prep does not have to be boring.  Meal prep does not have to take forever!

#1 – Get creative.  Try a new fruit or veggie or a different dish you would normally make.
“How can you eat the same thing every single night and not get bored?” – Almost anyone I know when I tell them I only cook once or sometimes twice a week.  Foodie friends, it’s like this.  Have you ever made something so delicious you were dreaming about the next time you could eat it again the moment you swiped the last bite off your plate? {If you’re answer is no I’m going to have to ask you go get more creative in the kitchen meal prep or not, food is amazing make more delicious things!!}  

This is part of the reason why I decided to sign up for Hungry Harvest back in January.  Half of the work is already done for you.  Produce shows up and the next part is to figure out what to do with it.  Some really tasty dishes have come as a result of figuring out how to use my weekly produce haul.

Meal prep, picking my recipes

I have experimented with eggplant, lentils, cabbage and even rainbow chard.  I’ve made coconut curried veggies, kiwi mango salsa, Mediterranean quinoa bowls, and more mason jar salads than I ever through possible.

#2 – Make a plan
This is the part I both loath and love.  I loath fighting through that phase of “ugh, what do I want to eat this week” but LOVE when I start perusing some foodie blogs and find something utterly mouth watering.  The excitement builds, I start scribbling notes down on my notebook and in a matter of minutes I cannot wait to get to grocery store.  {That’s a lie.  I never want to go to the grocery store.}

Meal Prep, making a plan

Have a plan for the ENTIRE week to make sure you aren’t prepping food that will go to waste.  Do you need enough food for dinners every week or will you be eating out once or twice? Will you cook everything all at once or just cook one small meal and prepare other ingredients for the second or third later int he week.  Will you prepare lunches ahead of time or make the day of?  Gather up all of your recipes, figure out what ingredients you already have and what you need and compile a shopping list.  I have never moved so fast through the store than when I know my list contains EXACTLY what I need.  Versus that overwhelming feeling when you go to the store to “see what’s good” and then hem and haw over what you actually want to make.

Each week I pick one {sometimes two} main dish for dinner, and one lunch for me.  Sometimes I’ll make one lunch for Ralph + me but he usually does his own thing for lunch.

#3 – Mis En Place
I learned this term recently, although it turns out I have been doing it for years.  Mis-en-place is french for ” to put in place”, think of it as the prep before the prep.  {If you’re thinking this sounds like a lot of work, stay with me}.  You’ve planned, you’ve shopped, now it’s time to cook something fabulous.  Take the time to get out all your ingredients.  Chop all your veggies at once.   One thing people ask is how long my whole process takes.  Or they say that must take forever who has that kind of time.  It’s really not that big of a deal to chop 1 pepper or 3 so I figure might as well do it all at once.  Then I only have to do the dishes once.  {That’s not true either, Ralph does the dishes}

meal prep, mis-en-place

#4 – Have the right containers
Nothing sucks more than preparing a large meal only to realize you have nothing to store it in.  Plan a head and get a vartiey of containers.  I like small pyrex containers or mason jars for lunches and large pyrex containers for dinner meals.  Containers that have sturdy lids and are relatively the same size so I can stack them up in the fridge its a huge plus.

meal prep, containers

#5 – Find a way to break up the week
Well if you ARE the type of person who gets bored no matter how amazing a cook you are, I would suggest breaking up the week with a night out or take out or prepping multiple meals.  Many weeks I make one large casserole or one pot/pant type meals.  However there is nothing wrong with making ahead a few smaller meals, or doing most of the prep work for something you will cook later in the week.  I also like our standing tradition of weekly date nights, not just to give us a break from food but as something to look forward to in our work lives as well.

So there ya go.  If you were previously afraid of or didn’t understand meal prep and why it’s so great I hope this helped.

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What are your tips or meal prep tricks?

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