Meal prep is a huge buzzword these days. Seems like everyone is talking about it and everyone has tips for meal prep success. I get it. The whole point of prepping a meal or several meals in advance is to have delicious, home cooked meals in a shorter amount of time.
Who doesn’t want that?
It’s less expensive and healthier than eating out.
And definitely healthier than microwave dinners.
So why don’t more people meal prep?
Meal prep can feel time consuming and like loads of work. Cooking can take lots of time, too. Making meals from scratch can also be exhausting and frustrating, especially if things don’t go your way in the kitchen.
No fun to be in the kitchen for hours and hours with little good to show for it. Ain’t no one got time for that!
I want to help you simplify your kitchen time and make meal prep easier, too.
These are my Top Tips for Meal Prep Success!
Start with the basics.
What foods do you eat the most often? I’m not talking snack foods, but foods that require a little prep.
If you do lots of stir fries, this might be onions, garlic, and ginger.
If you make lots of green smoothies, maybe it’s kale and bananas.
Whatever your most consistent foods are, start prepping those once a week.
This is the lowest hanging fruit, so to speak. For my family, it’s greens, fruit, and carrots that I do first. If I do nothing else, I prep these.
I tear the kale greens into small pieces and put them in either a plastic bag I’ve been reusing for kale for months or I put them in a huge glass container.
I rinse off berries and put them in bowls in my fridge to take one step out of the process when my kids ask for a snack.
I slice carrots into sticks and put them in a jar because my kids snack on those a lot, too.
These are super simple ways you can get started with meal prep, even if you aren’t prepping full meals.
Plan a few meals at a time (not an entire week of meals at a time)
The biggest mistake people make when they try to start meal prepping is that they try to plan an entire week in advance. And then they try to prep that entire week, too.
That my friends, is a recipe for disaster.
If you’re not used to planning an entire week of meals, this can be overwhelming. Plan chunks of meals instead.
So if you want to have a little more freedom in your weekend by planning out meals Friday through Sunday, start there.
If you want to make sure you know what dinner will be every night of the work week, plan those 4 or 5 meals.
Just don’t try to plan every single meal — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — for all 7 days.
That might put you off meal prepping permanently.
Organize Your Meals Around a Few Ingredients
Instead of trying to reinvent the “meal wheel” every single day, think about how you can use the same ingredients in different ways.
If you’re making something with sweet potatoes and carrots one night, the next night can also have some carrots or sweet potatoes. Or both.
More often, though, you try to keep things so different that you have lots of different foods to prep. Broccoli one night, carrots and sweet potatoes the next, tomatoes and almonds and cauliflower the next.
Think about using similar ingredients all week long to simplify and streamline the meal prep you do.
It doesn’t have to be boring.
This just means if you’re chopping up carrots, you can use them in a pilaf or in a soup or grate them into a raw salad.
Find ways to maximize your meal prep time by prepping the same veggie or food in different ways.
BONUS TIP: Snack dinner
Snack dinner is the best. It’s a no-cook affair. You don’t have to cook anything, necessarily. This type of dinner is about using foods that might be considered sides or snacks and turning them into a meal.
In my house we do this once a week. Peanut butter toast with honey for dinner. Hummus on tortillas with some watermelon on the side.
This basically just saves you from a meal that requires prep and cooking.
Plus it’s quick, easy, and a crowd pleaser.
Snack dinner is where it’s at if you’re a busy mom.
Or you just like snacks.
Let me know what you think of these tips in te comments below and if they work for you!