10 Meal Prep Tips
Trying to ceate less waste and increase your dollar but still have healthy & delicious food in the refrigerator? Us, too. Here are some accessible & easy tips to simply your meal preparation and your food finances in return.
Make A Date
It's harder to stick to meal prep when you don't put an actual date on it. Instead of putting it on the back burner as a "later" (non-) commitment, plan in advance by making it an appointment. Treat it like a medical appointment—something you surely wouldn't miss. Try to set an hour aside per week—preferably on the weekend—that's solely dedicated to preparing meals and snacks for the following week.
The most fun part of preparing meals is searching for recipes. This can sound daunting at first, especially given the plethora of recipes that just one database such as Pinterest holds. But you probably don't want to eat plain chicken, rice, and steamed vegetables for weeks on end either . . . Instead, stick to one website or cookbook which regularly appeals to your tastebuds. We have a compilation of our favourites in our Library's Cookbook section.
Keep Notes, literally
Don't just keep a mental note of your grocery needs; make a detailed list by writing the items down before going to the store. Itemise them further by aisle so you dont waste time walking back-and-forth in between. This will also help you avoid—as much as possible—unnecessary purchases.
Tap an App
There are apps, such as Paprika and Pepperplate, that function esentially as a sous-chef in your meal prep venture. These include recipe databases that you can further refine according to preference, creating weekly menus, and generating grocery lists of regular items as you run out of them.
Divide & Conquer
Prepare several containers of pre-portioned meals to last through the week, doled out in reusable containers or glass jars. These should include big batches of your preferred protein and side of vegetables, salad dressing, and snacks. You can also further compartmentalise them into 3-compartment food containers, so you can grab-and-go when you're on your way to work in the morning.
When you're preparing staples such as whole grains or proteins, make a bigger batch then freeze them. Certainly, not all options are freezeable, but many are. Options such as beans, grains, meatballs, can all be pre-cooked and frozen. Try freezing these minty meatballs from our archives. They freeze well raw as well to cook later. We store them in these compostable bags.
Prepare Your Breakfast the Night Before
Don't skip breakfast because of a time crunch in the morning. Instead, prepare it the night before, ideally a big batch to last you through the week. You may boil a couple of eggs to enjoy with a side of sliced avocado or overnight oats. Preparing oats the night before not only softens its texture to a creamy one to resemble oatmeal but it also breaks down phytic acid that are anti-nutrients which block the absorption of certain vitamins & minerals. To last you through the work week, combine 1 1/3 cups of organic, certified gluten-free oats, a cup of your preferred protein powder such as this one, 1/4 cup of flaxseed, and half a tablespoon of cinnamon into four glass jars. Add in 1/3 cup of warm plant-based milk into each jar, top each with crushed nuts & dried fruit or additive-fre nut butter, and cover to chill.
Stack your salad into a large quart or two-quart-sized glass jars! You can make multiple of these salad jars to last you through the week. First include the dressing, followed by sturdier items like protein, grains, beans, or cooked vegetables, then delicate items such as greens. This stacking methods will also prevent soggy greens.
Makig one-pot meals are the easiest option for making larger batches of food for the week ahead. Using kitchen gadgets like this one, which is a staple in our kitchen, can have chicken with vegetables done in 15 minutes and a meat stew in 30 minutes. It's the best investment in your time and money.
Don't forget snacks when your preparing your meals so you don't set yourself up for an afternoon hangry attack. Pack smart snacks that combine nutrients that keep you sustainably energised with protein and carbohydrates. Think apples or dates with additive-free nut butter, crudités with organic hummus or babaganoush, or half an avocado with a dash of pink salt.
About the Author
Almila Kakinc-Dodd is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief of The Thirlby. She is also the author of the book The Thirlby: A Field Guide to a Vibrant Mind, Body, & Soul. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Nursing as a Dean’s Scholar at Johns Hopkins University. Her background is in Anthropology & Literature, which she has further enriched through her Integrative Health Practitioner training at Duke University. She lives in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area, where she regularly contributes to various publications. She is a member of Democratic Socialists of America and urges others to join the movement.