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Now that we are well into the second month of 2021, a beginner’s guide to meal prep might help you better meet your health goals. Meal prepping is no secret, and yet surprisingly, few people choose to implement this timesaving method into their daily routine. There are so many benefits to meal prepping – read on to see how this method can help improve your health and productivity.
What is meal prep?
As the name suggests, meal prep is preparing your meals for the week ahead of time. Although there are several different types of meal prepping, they all serve to make your daily meals and snacks more efficient and easy. This often includes dedicating an hour or two once a week to batch cook and separate the meals into individual portions using containers.
A beginners guide to meal prep – how to get started
Calculate how many meals you need
You can decide whether or not you want to meal prep for all your meals each day, or perhaps just specific meals. Consider starting off small – prepping for one meal daily per week. Then as you become more and more familiar with the process, meal prep for two or three meals a day won’t seem so daunting. Calculating how many meals you will need is important when looking for recipes and going grocery shopping, as you don’t want to make more or less than what is necessary.
Coming up with recipes is a lot more fun than you would think! Going through cookbooks, searching online or using an old family recipe are all different ways to keep things interesting when you meal prep. Unless you are on a very restrictive diet, preparing the same meals for each day can get a bit boring. So, shake things up with variety throughout the week. A great recipe site with feedback from other users is AllRecipes.
Grocery shopping and prep
Once you’ve planned out the recipes you’ll be using, you will need to buy the ingredients. Planning your meals ahead will also help you stick to your budget and save money on groceries. While you’re out, finding good quality containers to store each meal is a must. Going with glass or BPA free plastic tupperware will keep your food fresh and lasting longer. Find the time (like a Sunday night to kick off the week) to make your food.
Understand how to store your food
Different dishes have different storage requirements, so store your meals accordingly. For example, most meals can be stored in the refrigerator, but certain soups may need to be stored in the freezer. Also, salads and some other meals will be better to be put together the day of, so keeping certain ingredients on the side can still save you time without sacrificing on the quality of the meal. No one likes a soggy salad!
Why should you meal prep?
First, who doesn’t want to save money and time? Although an hour or two may seem like a long time to spend cooking, you would have already set yourself for the entire week. This means you’ll spend a lot less time throughout the week planning what to eat and cooking. Knowing you have food ready for you when you get home will also make you less tempted to order food or eat out – helping you stick to your budget and make healthier choices.
Meal prepping can also reduce your stress, since it’s one less thing to worry about (and one that you usually have to consider several times a day). You surely have enough to do, and dwelling on food shouldn’t be one of them. With meal prepping, balancing a chaotic schedule will feel much more manageable.
Your overall health may also be improved thanks to meal prepping. Knowing exactly what goes into your food is important, since no one wants to be putting harmful chemicals into their body (like those found primarily in processed foods). Plus by separating everything into the individual containers for each meal, you are controlling your portions (which could ultimately aid in weight loss if this is your goal.
So, if you are looking to save time while sticking to a healthy diet and budget, this beginner’s guide to meal prep is the perfect place to start. Even prepping one meal a day at the outset will make a big difference, and you can carve out that extra time for other activities or a little self-care.
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