Created by: Kristen Carli, Dietetic Intern
What does it mean to meal prep? Meal prep usually involves one day out of your week to prepare food for the next 3-4 days. This food is then prepared in the fridge, ready to eat. It may sound like a lot of work, but with a bit of planning it can be a great way for you and your family to save time, save money, and eat healthier.
By preparing most of your weekly meals on the weekend, you end up saving time during the busy work week. Set aside one weekend day to plan, shop, and prepare your meals. This may take 3 hours, but you will save loads of time during the week.
Eating homemade meals can save you a lot of money. Frozen meals or takeout can be much more expensive when compared to homemade meals. Stock up on healthy, non-perishable foods in bulk to save money, such as lentils, beans, and grains. Utilize frozen or canned produce; just be sure to limit added sugars or sodium.
Homemade meals are much more nutritious than store-bought meals, frozen meals, or takeout. Since you are creating them, they can be as healthy as you design them. Limit sources of saturated fat, trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. Be sure to add lots of fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens.
How to Begin
Set aside some time to plan the meals. Choose recipes you have been wanting to try, or design meals that sound good to you. From your list of meals, make a grocery list of the food you need to purchase. Pick a day to complete your meal prep. Usually this is a weekend day, but any day you have at least 2 hours to work with is ideal.
Instead of portioning out each meal into individual containers, aim to batch cook. Cook a big batch of grains, proteins, and vegetables. Then as the week goes on, serve up a meal by scooping out a portion of each. Mix and match from the following lists.
|Brown Rice||Lean Pork||Broccoli|
|Barley||Lean Beef||Brussels Sprouts|
|Farro||Black Beans||Green Beans|
|Whole Wheat Pasta||Kidney Beans||Carrots|
Food safety is very important. Prepared food will generally last 3-4 days in the fridge. Do not eat soggy, spoiled, or molding foods. When storing fresh fruits and vegetables, line containers with paper towels. This will absorb moisture and prevent spoiling.
Material adapted from eatright.org