A Beginner's Guide to Meal Prepping: Tips and Tricks for Success
As this is a beginner’s guide, I’d like to welcome you here to this space. Whether you’ve tried to meal prep before or not, you’ll be able to find something useful in this blog post. Meal prep is a great tool to have in your pocket when life gets busy, or if you just don’t like to cook, and that’s okay too! Finding the time to cook healthy meals every day can be a challenge. This is where meal prepping comes to the rescue. Meal prepping is the practice of planning and preparing your meals in advance, ensuring you have nutritious options readily available throughout the week. Whether you're a busy professional, a fitness enthusiast, or a health-conscious individual in Calgary, healthy meal prep can be a game-changer. In this beginner's guide, we will explore the benefits of meal prepping and share valuable tips and tricks to help you achieve meal prep success.
The Benefits of Meal Prepping
Before diving into the tips, let's understand why meal prepping is worth considering. Here are some key benefits:
1. Time-saving: We all know that there is an opportunity cost to just about anything. It’s up to you to determine what the best use of your time is! If I meal prep, what will happen? I’ll have meals for the week, and I’ll make good food choices. If I DON’T meal prep, what will happen? I’ll spend more time cooking individual meals, or I’ll make poor food choices. (If you’re in this boat you should let us help!) With meal prepping, you can dedicate a few hours over the weekend to prepare meals for the entire week. This not only saves valuable time on busy weekdays but also minimizes kitchen cleanup.
2. Portion control: Put your hand up if you’re guilty of shredding some extra cheese to snack on while your meal is cooking? While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can easily add up if you are trying to stay within a certain caloric range or reach a specific weight goal. One of the great things about meal prepping is that it allows you to portion out your meals in advance, ensuring you consume the right amount of nutrients, minimize unnecessary snacking, and avoid overeating.
3. Cost-effective: It almost seems silly writing this as a benefit when it feels like the prices of everything keep going up. Don’t let this deter you from meal prepping. Buying your ingredients in bulk or larger quantities is a very cost-effective way to meal prep. Look here on the price tag to give you the actual cost of the ingredient. This is called unit pricing. You might be surprised that the smaller bag of sunflower seeds is more expensive per 100g than the bigger bag.
4. Healthier choices: Having a plan with fresh prepared meals will mean less impulsive food choices and perhaps unhealthy food choices. We are becoming very aware of ultra processed foods and how easily they are to access. By planning your meals ahead of time, you can focus on using fresh, whole ingredients and avoid reaching for unhealthy convenience foods. Future you thanks you for making the healthy choices you are making today!
Planning Your Meals
Effective meal prepping begins with careful planning. Follow these steps to ensure a seamless process:
1. Choose Your Recipes: Start by selecting recipes that you enjoy and are easy to prepare in batches. Look for dishes that incorporate a variety of vegetables, lean proteins like chicken or turkey and healthy fats like bacon and nuts.
2. Make a Grocery List: Based on your chosen recipes, create a detailed grocery list. Most recipes will have a quick and easy option to automatically generate a shopping list. Try that feature to get your shopping list ready faster. Stick to it when you go shopping to avoid impulse purchases and save time.
3. Consider Your Schedule: Take your weekly schedule into account when planning meals. That last thing you want to do after a full day at work, a trip to the gym and who knows what else, is do meal prep. If you do that, my hat goes off to you. If you know you have a busy day ahead, move your meal prep day to a day that is less busy. If you can’t make this work, consider ordering from your healthy meal prep friends here at Nutrimeals.
4. Invest in Quality Containers: You invested in your emotional support water bottle, now it’s time to get some great meal prep containers that will motivate you to use them and take care of them. Invest in a set of sturdy and BPA-free food containers in different sizes to store your prepped meals safely.
Preparing Your Meals
Once you have your plan in place, it's time to get into the kitchen and start prepping your meals. Here are some useful tips to ensure efficiency and delicious results:
1. Batch Cooking: Choose a day or two each week for batch cooking. Cook large quantities of proteins, grains, and roasted vegetables that can be easily mixed and matched throughout the week. Which leads us into our next step.
2. Mix and Match: Prepare components that can be assembled in various combinations to create different meals. For instance, cook a big batch of quinoa, and then pair it with different proteins and vegetables on different days. Add some of your favourite sauces and one day you can have a Mexican inspired bowl, and the next could be an Asian inspired stir-fry.
3. Pre-cut and Wash: Save time during the week by pre-cutting and washing vegetables in advance. Also, if you have pre-cut vegetables or fruit on hand, it’s much more motivating to snack on them instead of watching them wilt away. Store them in those nice new containers that you invested in to maintain freshness.
Storing Your Meals
Proper storage is crucial to maintain the quality and freshness of your prepped meals. Follow these storage tips:
1. Refrigerate and Freeze: Refrigerate meals that you plan to consume within the next 3-4 days. For longer storage, freeze portions in freezer-safe containers.
2. Label Containers: “When did I make this?” **sniff check** Let’s avoid this all together an implement labeling! Label each container with the date of preparation to keep track of freshness and avoid confusion.
3. Reheat with Care: When reheating, ensure that food is heated thoroughly to the appropriate temperature to avoid foodborne illnesses.
4. Stay Inspired and Be Flexible: Meal prepping doesn't have to be monotonous. Stay inspired by exploring new recipes and flavors. Be open to modifying recipes based on seasonal produce and personal preferences. Keeping things exciting will make you look forward to your prepped meals.
One of the last tips I will offer in this blog post is utilizing a Meal Prep Service. The concept is fairly new, and for those that use the excuse that it’s too expensive haven’t experienced what using a meal prep service can really do. Nutrimeals is a Calgary meal prep service that specializes in helping people. We provide freshly prepared, healthy meals that are ready to be enjoyed whenever you need them. Our diverse menu that changes every 2 weeks will keep your taste buds wanting more.
Welcome to the world of healthy meal prep in Calgary and experience the convenience and benefits it brings to your lifestyle. Plan your meals, invest in quality containers, consider a meal prep service, and get creative in the kitchen. With a little effort and dedication, you'll discover how meal prepping can revolutionize your approach to nutrition and ensure you have a nourishing meal at your fingertips, even on your busiest days. Happy meal prepping!