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Do you hate doing dishes? Do you spend all of your time at night arguing over what to eat for dinner, cooking and cleaning up? Are you so busy that you make most food decisions based on convenience? Are you overspending every day by eating out at lunchtime? Then this is the right place for you. Because successful meal prepping can be the cure to every single one of these problems. I have seen first-hand how implementing this simple process has the power to change lives.
Whether you’re new to meal prepping or you’ve been doing it for years or maybe you’re wanting to get into it, this is going to be really helpful for you, because I’ve been there, and this is also something that a lot of my clients struggle with at the beginning. So, let me give you five fantastic tips to start incorporating meal prepping into your life.
1. Knowing what meals you want to prep
Meal prepping starts much earlier than when you start cooking. It’s about preparation, knowing your why and understanding your personal needs. If you’re completely new to meal prepping, you will find our guide to plant-based meal prepping very helpful. That way, you’ll definitely be set up for success. Once all that is clear and you’re ready to go, let’s talk about the actual meals you’re going to make.
You don’t have to fit into a box when it comes to meal prepping. It can look however you want it to look. And part of that is just understanding what meals you actually even want to meal prep. What’s going to save you time? Give yourself the flexibility to pick at least one breakfast, lunch or dinner to be a really easy recipe.
Maybe this is breakfast for you. Do you like smoothies? Then perhaps prep all of the ingredients, collect them in a container and then once it’s breakfast time, all you have to do is blend it together. Or overnight oats – same concept as the smoothies, and all you’ll have to do is add your favorite non-dairy milk the night before and you’re good to go in the morning. Tasty meals don’t have to be difficult to make, this is such a big misconception.
From my personal experience, starting with simple and easy dishes so that over time you can build up the confidence to explore different options has been a great way to stay on the meal prepping path. As I always like to tell my clients: “The whole idea with meal planning and meal prepping is to save us time, is to be more efficient.”
If you’re really new to meal prepping, think about what meal stresses you out the most or creates the most time. What meal is going to save you the most time? That might be the best one to start with.
2. Get the right meal prepping containers
The second thing that I recommend is making sure that you have some meal prep containers on hand. This can be really helpful and something that some people tend to skip. Luckily, this is a step that can be easily completed by either buying new ones or finding some second-hand containers. Perhaps you already have great ones at home, too. They should be easily stacked, washable and have the right portion size for you. Ideally, you can even put them in the microwave or oven.
My personal favorites are glass containers because I can just heat them up and eat directly from the container and still feel like I am eating from a regular dish rather than a plastic box. This step also saves doing more dishes – because, let’s face it, most of us don’t like to wash up. It really is worth investing in great containers, because you’ll be able to keep them for a really long time and it’s likely just a one-time investment.
3. Invest in time-saving meal prepping tools
Speaking of investments, one of the tools that I do recommend for everybody that cooks a lot and likes to save time is to have at least one good vegetable chopping knife. And that is going to save you a lot of carpal tunnel and make you feel like a professional chef, too. Again, great kitchenware will last you a lifetime. My rule of thumb for a good knife is: “If it can go through a sweet potato pretty easily, then you’re good to go”
Other items that can be helpful are things like a food processor or a blender, which are appliances that really come in handy for any plant-based eater. These tools really can make life a lot easier. More electronic kitchenware that will cut down on the time that you’re meal prepping are air fryers and instant pots. Maybe you already have one of those collecting dust in the kitchen, or perhaps you just want to start and see where the meal prep journey takes you, before starting to spend money.
If you don’t have any of these, frozen veggies might be your new best friend, as they usually come chopped up and portioned. Even pre-chopped veggies from your local supermarket can be a great time saver at times. My mantra for these things always is: “If it’s going to allow me to eat food that makes me feel good, then I’m all for it.”
4. Prioritize meal prepping and make it a habit
Make meal prepping more of a habit. To take that a step further is to prioritize it. A lot of times it can be something that is done last minute and then it becomes tough and even stressful. So save yourself the time and worry and get it done with plenty of time to see it through. In this sense, it can be kind of like a workout: “And then once you do it, you’re like, oh, my goodness, I am so glad that I did this.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
My tip is to really understand why you’re meal prepping in the first place. Whatever this is to you, health reasons, efficiency, convenience, remind yourself of that reasons which will more likely lead to you prioritizing this task and turn it into a habit. Katie sums this up beautifully: “So really understanding that why helps to identify not only do we want to be healthier and make healthier choices and we want to feel better, but we want to reduce the stress in our life, and this really helps to do that.”
5. You don’t have to fit into a meal prepping box
Last but definitely not least, you do not have to fit into a meal prepping “box”. You don’t have to do what other people are doing or follow any rules. Because the whole idea behind meal prepping is to save money, time, and free up your week. Meal prepping should be a fun and enjoyable experience that you look forward to. Not a task that you’re dreading and just want to get done. Sometimes that might be the case, but it shouldn’t be that way all the time.
You can start with just one meal. You can switch your method and technique each week to see what works for you. It doesn’t have to be one conceptual meal, it can be a meal based on a lot of different smaller parts. By no means do your meals have to look like those on someone’s Instagram page. More important is that they are to your liking and taste.
And give yourself flexibility and go with your needs that week. You don’t have to follow any concepts that don’t serve you. And free yourself from perfectionism. As Katie puts it: “If the process is stressful and you set yourself up to have to be perfect and the fridge has to be perfect and the meals have to be photo-ready, that’s not going to be sustainable.”
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