You’ve probably heard many times how you SHOULD be prepping your meals. We honestly aren’t big fans of the whole “should” thing. For many, meal prep is an extremely useful tool. For others with a different set up with your time (maybe you can make a fresh dinner every night of the week, or really love cooking so you simply make that time a priority), meal prep may not be as important. For those of you who rely on a once or twice weekly meal prep, here are five meal prep tips you can implement immediately.
Five Meal Prep Tips:
You can find countless lists and strategies for meal prep around the wonderful World Wide Web. These five meal prep tips are simply the ones we have used to make meal prep simple, effective, and actually fun. If you try any, tag us on Instagram or Facebook at ISNLabs and let us know how they went for you!
1. make a grocery list before Shopping.
The biggest disadvantage to meal prep is the time it takes; however, at least half of that time is spent at the grocery store, and it can be much more if you don’t know exactly what you need, how much, and from where.
Before you head out to the grocery store, make a list with quantities for what you’ll be preparing. This will streamline the amount of time you need at the store, keep you on budget, and ensure you aren’t throwing away extra food which is tough on the environment and your wallet.
2. fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
In the restaurant world, putting together a prep station and portioning out chopped food is commonly known as mise en place. Be wise, and use this to your advantage when doing your meal prep.
For example, if you are preparing burrito bowls for your lunches this week, have your black beans, rice, protein, and vegetables all chopped and portioned. That way, you can very easily assemble all of your bowls without going back to the fridge after you’ve forgotten your chicken for the fourth time in a row.
3. make one thing in the slow cooker.
Imagine the slow cooker (or Instant Pot) as your mechanical sous chef. Essentially, these lovely devices can take anything you want from raw to cooked in a manner of hours or minutes, hands off from you. Dump everything into the pot, program the machine, and walk away. Done. Nothing could be simpler or easier on your meal prep than using a slow cooker or Instant Pot.
A few of the best things to make inside of these are tougher (and therefore cheaper) pieces of meat such as pork shoulder, as well as soups and stews, and large batches of grains. An Instant Pot, for example, will cook multiple cups of rice in under 10 minutes, and take an entire pork shoulder from raw to fall-apart tender in under two hours. That’s time right back into your pocket.
4. Don’t forget about the snacks!
There are many of you who are doing great meal prep for your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners during the week. Then 3:00pm hits, you’re hungry, and the candy bar in the company vending machine becomes awfully tempting.
Don’t let this be you. Put together chopped vegetables such as celery sticks, cucumbers, and baby carrots to have fiber-filled snacks on hand. Bring healthier processed snacks like RXBARs to your place of work. Keep protein powder in your car. Whatever you need to do to keep the junk out of your mouth when you get hungry between meals, do it. It can make or break your healthy week.
5. Invest in decent food containment.
Imagine you spend approximately two hours in your kitchen cooking all sorts of delicious food for the week. You’re excited to bring your lunch to work and have a healthier (and less expensive) week. You even remembered to put baby carrots in in plastic bags to have with you on the go.
Then, you open your cupboard, and you cannot even begin to put lunches together in your containers. This is a frustrating, and an all too common situation.
Take some money, go to the store, and buy good food containers. We love locking glass containers because they store everything from chicken to spill-happy soups, and warm up safely. They are, however, more expensive, so if plastic containment is more your jam, go for it. Just make it portable, easily cleanable, and preferably BPA free. Oh, also, throw away all those mis-matched ones. You really don’t need them.