If you’ve ever done meal prep before, you know it requires a few key ingredients: advance planning, time and resourcefulness. With many of us returning to work after social distancing, the thought of meal prepping might be stressful. Whether it’s been a while or this will be your first time starting, try these tips to make meal prep easier and faster.
Meal Prep Tips and Hacks
Get Your Containers Together
Pair your existing containers with lids and toss the ones without matches. Make a collection of containers with varying sizes for meals, sides, condiments, toppings, etc. Quart and freezer-size Ziploc baggies are a great addition to Tupperware!
Start with Just One Meal
When starting out, you don’t have to have every meal for the next seven days down pat. Start by replacing just one meal, like breakfast or lunch, for the work week (about five days).
To simplify the process even more, try making a meal that holds well and will last you for a couple days. This can be soups, stews, and many veggie-based meals and snacks.
Make Your Meals Colorful
Colorful meals are more enticing. You might be more likely to eat your pre-prepped meal if it looks colorful and flavorful. To do this, add a large variety of fruits and vegetables to your meals. You can also experiment with different herbs and seasonings.
Use Your Freezer
Having leftovers is a good thing. Don’t let it go to waste! Freeze any leftover food for a day when you’re short on time or just don’t feel like cooking/meal prepping. If you end up swapping your pre-prepped lunch for a surprise staff lunch, you can freeze that too.
Get the Basics Together
Some foods can be repurposed again and again. For instance, olives can be used in pasta sauce, salad or soups. Stock up on staples like lettuce or spinach, chicken breasts, canned beans, whole grain noodles, eggs and frozen vegetables.
Try Sheet Pan Dinners
Sheet pan dinners are easy and delicious. They also make great leftovers! Just roast an assortment of proteins and veggies on a large cooking tray in the oven. Easy sheet pan ingredients include broccoli, cubed potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes, chicken, ghnocci, squash, zucchini and brussels sprouts. For added flavor, toss your ingredients in cooking oil, herbs and seasonings, or even some cheese before and during cooking time.
Make Creative Flavor Boosters
Flavor boosters are marinades, sauces, spices, herbs, cooking pastes, etc. that easily transform how a dish tastes. They can turn any mundane meal into an exciting new recipe that you’ve never had before. This helps if you get bored with repeating dishes.
You don’t have to spend a huge chunk of your time in the kitchen just to meal prep. Start slow with one dish divided into multiple containers for the week ahead. Gradually add on new dishes for additional meals. To prevent boredom, regularly switch up flavor profiles and experiment with new ingredients. Meal prep should inspire and empower you – not burden you!
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