A little planning goes a long way when it comes to a successful meal prep. Unlike the act of cooking a single dinner, meal prep is a system that can make your entire week easier. It requires a bit of thought and strategizing, but sticking to a meal plan will save you time, money and a whole lot of stress. So say goodbye to the days of wasted food you never got around to cooking and the nights of frantically pulling your hair out trying to decide what to cook.
Keep On Track With a Template
Your first step is to map out your meals and decide what you and your family are going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner that week, that fortnight or even that month. Be sure to choose well-rounded meals that include a protein, a carb and some fresh produce in every serving.
To keep track of your meal plan, it helps to prepare weekly meal templates. By writing down what you’re making for dinner every night (and keeping it somewhere that is easy to reference in the kitchen) simplifies things. You can instil a bit of routine into your template by implementing stir-fry Mondays (bonus: you get to use up all the leftover veggies from the fridge) or Italian-food Sundays.
When creating your template, be sure to factor in evenings where you know you’ll be out for dinner or at an event to ensure fresh produce doesn’t go to waste. Also be sure to factor in leftovers when mapping out your lunches—there’s no need to prepare a salad for lunch if you know you’ll have a delicious bowl in the fridge from the night before.
Prepare a Grocery List
Once you have your meal plan sorted, it’s time to shop. Make a list of everything you’ll need for that week and ensure you can do your grocery shopping in one go. This saves you from getting halfway through preparing a meal and realizing you’re missing a key ingredient. Plus, having the fresh produce at home will help you resist the urge to order in take out—no one likes to waste perfectly good food.
Prep On Sundays
Cook a few different meals on a Sunday to take the effort out of your work nights. Imagine cooking dinner for a family of five knowing you have the ingredients and recipe at home, and the bulk of the chopping and prepping has already been done—no stress, no mess! Make your weekly meal prep a part of your Sunday routine by firing up the oven and your favorite podcast to make the process more enjoyable. The kids can even help, too!
Make a Tried-and-True Recipe Collection
Since the stress of having to come up with new meal ideas every week can have you running for the nearest pizzeria, it pays to lock away a few of your favorite tried-and-true recipes to repeat. Keep a folder of recipes from magazines or build a Pinterest board full of recipes you find online. You can easily refer back to them whenever you’re struggling to come up with meal ideas. This will save you time and stress.
Don’t Get Bored!
No one likes too many nights of leftovers, no matter how good that Mediterranean pasta was. Mixing up your proteins and flavor profiles throughout the week will guarantee that dinner is always enticing rather than a chore.
Download our free template, check your calendar, line up some leak-proof containers and get started! With the right tools, meal prep can be fun, easy and help you support your healthy lifestyle.
Want more tips and tricks for how to best prepare fish? Sign up to The Healthy Fish newsletter for more cooking advice each month.
Photo Credits: Ivana Lalicki / Shutterstock Inc., Syda Productions / Shutterstock Inc., Goran Bogicevic / Shutterstock Inc.