Food prep has become increasingly popular in the last decade (thanks, Instagram), but prepping food can mean different things to different people.
Every blog on the internet has an opinion when it comes to how to navigate food prep, but the main idea is that meal preparation is done ahead of time instead of eating immediately after cooking or ordering.
So, What Is Meal Prep?
Food prepping has evolved in different ways over the years. There is no “right” way when considering how to do meal prepping, only what works best for your lifestyle and goals. Your unique motivation will shape what meal prepping is to you.
That being said, some of the basic concepts are explained below.
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Creating a Meal Planning Shopping List
Before actually cooking or preparing anything, you’ll want to decide what you want your weekly meal plan to consist of. You might decide to prepare only breakfasts and lunches. Or you might start with making one meal for each day of the week and give yourself the choice of eating it for lunch or dinner.
Whatever you decide, mapping meals and recipes ahead of time makes creating a streamlined shopping list easier. Knowing what you’ll buy before going grocery shopping can save money and help you make fewer impulsive choices.
One of the basics of most types of food prepping involves cooking more than one serving to be eaten later on.
Preppers will often pick a specific day or days of the week on which to cook. On these days larger amounts of full meals can be made, portioned into smaller containers, and then refrigerated or frozen for use later in the week or month.
The advantage is that on non-cooking days, you’ll only have to pull the prepped food out of the fridge and heat it up!
Cooking a Variety of Meals
To make the most of the effort, food prep gurus suggest batch-cooking more than one type of meal simultaneously. To do this, they suggest using various cooking methods. It can get a little complicated but the breakdown might look like this:
|Cooking in Oven||Roasted sweet potatoes and chicken|
|Cooking on Stove||Stir fry|
|Cooking on Stove||Soup or Chili|
Cooking big batches of varying foods may be overwhelming for people without a lot of free time, or who haven’t cooked much before. This is why food prepping can vary so widely.
Using a slow cooker can be a great way to start experimenting with cooking soups and stews without having to do too many steps.
Investing in a meal delivery service might also help supplement some prepared meals a few days a week.
Storing Food for Later
The last and often overlooked component of meal prepping is how the cooked meals will be stored. Some people will use BPA-free plastic containers, some will use glass containers like mason jars.
How the prepped food is stored depends on personal preferences and reheating needs.
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