Prepping food is a lifesaver for people who are busy, on a budget, don’t like doing dishes, or are on a healing protocol. So basically everyone can benefit from meal prepping.
There are so many ways to meal prep some people prep full meals (batch cooking) or you could just prep components and mix and match meals. There are benefits to both.
If you prep a couple of meals on a Sunday or Monday you should have enough food for the week or you can always prep 2x per week to allow for a bit more variety. Time spent prepping for me is usually an 90 min to 2 hours per week. As you get better at prepping you should be able to get down to this depending on how much food you need to prep! Less dishes during the week is always a win for me!
Ways to prep and eat full meals:
First, if you batch cook big meals you make one recipe and eat it multiple times. Some people like this option better because you can rotate through different yummy recipes vs just components to build your own meal. This is also nice if you are burned out on a specific meals - keeps things interesting every week.
Batch cook eat the meals throughout the week (examples):
- Salads in jars
- Beef with broccoli
- Big batch of chili
- The recipe options are endless for this option
Pre-make things them freeze for the right time to reheat (examples):
- Breakfast burritos
Ways to prep components:
I like this option but I have but I have also been doing this for years. I like the simplicity of the components to build a meal into something else. This approach lets you add spices and sauces to allow for what you are feeling right then. Spices make everything!
Always have ready to eat proteins
- I like to always have some sort of cooked ground meat, usually turkey in the fridge ready to eat. This meat stays for a few days in the fridge and I don’t have to worry about it.
- All cuts of beef are another good option for prep. Steak, ground, roast, etc.
- Chicken can get dry but if you don’t mind that then go for it
- Pork - can get dry depending on the cut but another good option
Fish - this one is hard. I don’t like prepping fish i don’t think it reheats well the next day. And I think it smells FUNKY, fast. I spring for the canned fish like tuna and salmon vs fresh when I am considering it for prep.
Always have veggies on hand - they don’t need to be cooked!
- Rule of thumb always stock up on veggies when you are at the store. Some veggies that can be eaten raw in a pinch!
- Veggies like carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, onions, etc are great prepped but can be eaten raw too.
- Veggies like leafy greens, herbs, etc. that don’t need to be cooked are easy to just toss on a plate. Be sure to get “pre- washed” greens!
- If you are cooking up your veggies I have found roasting them is the easiest, least time consuming way. Chop up your veggies, drizzle avocado oil, sprinkle sea salt on top then put in an oven @400 degrees until the veggies are soft.
Keeping carbohydrates on hand. This one is easy!
- I really only prep a couple types of cabs potatoes (sweet and white) and rice/ rice pasta.
- Potatoes I bake those like a do the veggies I just mentioned above.
- For rice I most times make it fresh because I personally don’t like stale rice.
- Rice pasta I will make a big pot of pasta and eat it through the week with a meat sauce or something else. Other simple carbs you can keep on hand - FRUIT!
- You can cut the larger fruits up and store in the fridge for a least a few days. Other fruits already come in natures packaging!
- There are tons of different carbohydrate options - feel free to get creative here. These foods are just what work for me.
Fats to prep
- You can’t really prep fats there are a couple of things you can make but most of the fats will come from sauces or salad dressings, cooking oils, avocados, nuts and nut butters, coconut milk, fat from fattier cuts of meat, full fat dairy etc.
How long can you keep meal prepped food in the fridge / freezer?
- I would not keep prepped food in the fridge for longer than a week. If you think you are getting close to the end of its life definitely smell it before you reheat. No need to get sick from spoiled food. Nobody has time for that.
- As far as frozen foods go I would 6 months - 1 year would be fine in proper storage containers that wouldn’t allow for freezer burn.
The bottom line:
I know some people who don’t meal prep because they don’t like eating the same foods over and over again. That's 100% fine. Or they end up wasting ½ the food they prepped because they made too much. Prepping food is not for everyone and it takes some practice to get better at it. For me, the benefits outweigh the potential repetitiveness of prepping once eating multiple times. Less dishes, less time, less wanting to order takeout.
Find what works for you and roll with it!