While meal prep is super helpful for eating healthier during the week, I am not going to tell you that it is all fun and games. I don't know anyone who is excited to give up part of there weekend to be hanging out in the kitchen preparing for the next week. However, we put up with it because we know how handy it comes during the week.
In saying this meal prep is not for everyone. Some people don't want to eat leftovers and that is completely fine. But if you have never tried it or you have but still can't quite figure it out, this is the post for you. Hopefully, there are some tips here that you can use to figure out a system that will work for you.
Whilst it doesn't take me that long to meal prep these days keep in mind at the start it may take you a few hours. The good news is the more you do it the easier and quicker it will get.
Whilst everyone's meal prep routine looks slightly different here are some tips to help you meal prep like a champ.
7 Meal Prep Mistakes To Avoid
Trying to prep everything
When people first start meal prepping they often try to prep absolutely everything. I mean breakfasts, lunches, dinners and even snacks. For all seven days of the week. Let me tell you it doesn't only sound exhausting but it is exhausting.
Instead, I recommend having your lunches and snacks ready to go for the week. Then prep only prep breakfasts if you need to the night before or one to two days ahead of time.
But what about dinner? Seeing as you usually have a bit more time to cook dinner I usually don't prep the entire meal. Instead, I'll just prep the ingredients so that it is all ready to go and just need to cook it. For example, I will have my veggies cut, beans soaked and maybe have some rice or quinoa cooked ahead of time. Having just this done will cut down heaps of time during the week.
Freezing the wrong types of meals
The freezer is my best friend when it comes to meal prepping however not everything should be frozen. Don't just assume everything you make can go in the freezer. In saying that here are some meals I have found to freeze well:
Pasta sauces (cook the pasta fresh)
Using the wrong ingredients
Some ingredients keep longer than others. Because we are meal prepping days in advance you want ingredients that will keep until you want to eat them or will freeze well. You will soon work out which ones work well and which ones don't. Just don't be too upset if a couple of your meals don't work out well to start with. It is all a learning process.
Ingredients to avoid when meal prepping:
Avocado (unless putting on just before eating)
Fruit that browns quickly like apples, pears and bananas. However, these are okay if you are baking with them. E.g. making muffins of bread.
Anything crispy for example crispy tofu, crisps, crunchy noodles and even some nuts. An option to get around this though is to store it separately and add it to the meal when you go to eat it.
Pre dressed salads. This one depends on what is in the salad but as a general rule its best to keep the dressing separate until just before eating.
Not checking the fridge before I shop
Whilst this may seem like common sense to you, I have often forgotten. It will save you so much time and money if you have a look in your fridge and pantry to see what you already have and then decide what meals you want to make for the week. Got sweet potato leftover? Make a buddha bowl or add it to a curry recipe you like. You don't want to buy all your groceries then realise you already have a crisper full of veggies needing to be eaten.
Making too many new recipes
Making new recipes can be risky, some times we love them and other times we are forcing ourselves to keep eating them. So instead of not wanting to eat any of your meals for the week try only making one new meal a week. That means even if you don't like it, you still have plenty of other options, and it will stop you getting take out instead.
By trying only one new recipe a week this will also help you cut down on the time you spend prepping. As we all know we can often be slower when making a new recipe as we aren't 100% sure what we are doing.
Trying to cook too many days ahead
Whilst meal prepping is amazing for saving time, if you want to keep your meals in the fridge rather than the freezer its best not to prep too far in advance. As a general rule, I wouldn't prep more than four days in advance as that is when everything will start to go off. If you want to prep for a full 7 days make sure you include some freezer-friendly meals that you can get out when needed.
Not having enough space in your fridge/freezer
This has happened to me more than once and it can be really frustrating. You cook up heaps or meals ready to put in the freezer but when you open it you only have room for about half of them. You then open the fridge and with a lot of rearranging you might be able to fit them all in but it will be a squeeze.
To avoid this problem look at the space you have in the fridge and freezer before deciding how much you are going to prep. But also keep in mind if you are going to be using ingredients from the fridge this may make more room.
All in all, I love food prepping. It takes up a bit of time upfront but it will save you so much time during the week. Even if I haven't prepped all my meals for the week, taking time to cut up vegetables or soak beans early in the week will still set me up for success.
What you should do now
I have been where you are and I have women all over the world (just like you) transition to eating a plant-based diet. If you are looking for a guide to help you find the healthiest way to eat, check out these blog posts it is a great place to start.
If you are interested in weight loss, download this fantastic FREE Mini Weight Loss Guide and other resources.
If you would like to fast track your weight loss, check out my Weight Loss Starter Kit.
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