A Plan for Meal Prepping
Meal prepping can save time, money and energy. Whether you’re a busy parent, single person or retired – all people can benefit from some form of meal prepping. Want to spend more time together as a family – meal prepping is for you. Hate cooking and want to spend less time in the kitchen – meal prepping is for you. Have new health goals you are trying to achieve – meal prepping is for you. See a pattern here?
Don’t let the idea of meal prepping make you feel like you will spend all Sunday in the kitchen. That’s not the intent. It takes a different shape for each person or house hold. Start small and see where it takes you.
First things first.
- Plan your week. Examine your week and see where you could use some help. Soccer game Tuesday and late work meeting Thursday? These are focus days where some prepping will come in handy. Map out meals (and snacks if you wish) on the family calendar.
- Make your grocery list. Take inventory of what you already have on hand. Make your list and group foods by sections of the grocery store. This will save you even more time and keep you from back tracking through the store.
- Get your groceries. Purchasing groceries on your prep day allows you keep things efficient. You can wash and chop product right away, but if you can’t, no big deal.
You have a game plan. Now what should you actually “prep”?
- Prep Produce.
- Wash, trim and bag fresh fruits and veggies to use for snacks on the go.
- Dice vegetables and roast in canola oil for side dish that only needs to be reheated later in the week.
- Prep Protein.
- Grill or bake chicken, pork or beef in large quantities. Keep some in the refrigerator and freeze the rest. Think tacos, salads, wraps and more. Thawing meat 24 hours prior to use gives the best results, but can also be thawed the day of in the microwave.
- Prep Grains.
- Batch cook brown rice and quinoa to be used throughout the week. Perfect addition to grilled protein or on top of a salad.
- Make jars of overnight oats to have for breakfast throughout the week.
- Try a slow cooker.
- This kitchen tool does all the work for you with limited mess. Buy crock liners for zero clean-up.
Meal prep does require some thinking and effort up front, but can give you more time in the long run. The key is to be prepared, try new ideas and make it fit your schedule. Apps like Pinterest provide a wide range of ideas to get you started. Happy prepping!
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.