Making home-cooked meals seems hard with busy schedules. But meal prepping makes it possible.
Meal prepping means preparing full meals or ingredients in advance. This guide shares pro tips to master meal prep and make the process easy, fast, and tasty. Meal prepping saves time and money, allowing you to enjoy nutritious homemade food.
Benefits of Meal Prepping
Meal prepping has many advantages:
- Saves time - No need to cook each night. Just heat and eat pre-made meals.
- More money savings - Prepping ingredients in bulk is cheaper. Bringing lunch from home also saves money.
- Eat healthier - Prepare nutritious ingredients and recipes in advance. Avoid last-minute fast food.
- Less waste - Use ingredients fully when cooking in bulk. Less spoiled food.
- Convenience - Just reheat ready-to-go meals anytime. Great for busy schedules.
- Variety - Make different meals each prep session for more flavor choices throughout the week.
- Control portions - Measure proper serving sizes during prep for better portion control.
- New skills - Advance your cooking skills by trying new recipes during prep sessions.
When getting started with meal prepping, having the right kitchen tools on hand makes the process much smoother. For inspiration, take a trip to your local grocery store and browse the aisles for useful gadgets. In Skokie, IL, many people head to kosher grocery stores that offer a wide selection of prep tools such as instant pots, food processors, portion control containers, and more. Stop by kosher grocery stores in Skokie, IL to stock up on essential meal prep ingredients and the tools you need to prep like a pro. Having the right tools will significantly reduce the time you spend on meal prep. Meal prepping makes home cooking quick, budget-friendly, and achievable.
Getting Started with Meal Prep:
Follow this quick start guide:
- Pick a prep day - Devote a few hours one day per week to meal prep. Many choose Sundays to prep for the week ahead.
- Gather supplies - Have supplies like storage containers, aluminum foil, and freezer bags on hand. Labeling stickers keeps meals organized.
- Find recipes - Choose 4-5 healthy and tasty recipes that freeze or store well. Repeat favorites or always try new ones.
- Make a grocery list - Inventory what you already have. Make a list and shop for prep day. Buying in bulk saves money.
- Prep and pack - Chop ingredients in advance. Portion meals into individual containers labeled with dates and contents.
- Freeze and store - Place meals in the refrigerator or freezer. Eat refrigerated meals within 4 days and frozen meals within 3 months.
With upfront effort, you’ll gain a week’s worth of fast, yummy meals!
Meal Prep Tips and Tricks
Follow these pro meal preppers’ top tips:
- Prep produce at the start - Chop veggies, fruit, and greens when fresh. Store in serving sizes to add easily to meals.
- Double recipes - Make double batches of recipes. Use one, and freeze one for later.
- Parcook ingredients - Partially cook meats, and veggies to quickly finish cooking later.
- Make versatile batches - Grill chicken, cook rice, bake potatoes. Use in multiple recipes.
- Mix and match - Create different meals using prepared proteins, grains, and veggies based on taste.
- Use right storage containers - Use microwave-safe, leak-proof containers suited to the fridge or freezer.
- Plan leftovers into meals - Repurpose leftovers from meals into new dishes later in the week like fried rice.
- Clean as you go - Wash used prep dishes right away to start the week with a clean kitchen.
Essential Kitchen Tools for Meal Prep
Stock your kitchen with these helpful tools:
- Set of storage containers - Buy different sizes with tight seal lids.
- Spiralizer - Turns veggies like zucchini into noodle shapes.
- Instant Pot - Makes fast work of soups, chilies, and tough meats.
- Immersion blender - Blends sauces and purees right in the cooking pot.
- Food processor - Chops and mixes ingredients in seconds. Great time saver.
- Slow cooker - Prep ingredients in the morning, come home to cooked meals.
- Portion control containers - Divide ingredients into healthy serving sizes for balanced meals.
Investing in tools that speed up prep and cooking cuts down on time spent in the kitchen.
Best Meals for Meal Prepping
Choose recipes suited for advanced cooking. Top meal prep options include:
- Chili - Make a big batch. Freezes well. Add cheese and Fritos when reheating.
- Burrito bowls - Cook rice, beans, and meat for burrito toppings. Reheat and assemble.
- Casseroles - Assemble once to reheat later. Easy oven-to-fridge meals.
- Soups and stews - Just boil noodles or rice fresh to add to hearty broth.
- Baked pasta dishes - Prepare sauce and noodles. Mix and bake later.
- Chicken dishes - Shred or chopped into salads, wraps, and bowls for the week.
- Veggie sides - Roast or steam then portion veggies like broccoli into servings.
Select recipes you enjoy that store and reheat well. Prepare 1 new meal plus repeat proven favorites each week.
Meal Prep Breakfasts
Make healthy breakfasts ahead too:
- Overnight oats - Combine oats and milk in a jar and refrigerate overnight. Flavor with fruit, peanut butter, nuts.
- Egg cups - Add beaten eggs and veggies to muffin tins. Bake into grab-and-go egg bites.
- Burritos - Assemble burritos with eggs, and veggies and freeze. Microwave to reheat.
- Parfaits - Layer yogurt, granola, and fruit in containers for quick parfaits all week.
- Chia pudding - Mix chia seeds, and milk and refrigerate into ready-to-eat pudding.
- Baked oatmeal - Prepare oatmeal mixed with eggs and fruit. Portion and microwave pieces later.
Prepared breakfasts encourage healthy choices to kickstart your day.
Meal Prep Snacks and Lunches
Pre-make snacks and on-the-go lunches too:
- Trail mix - Make big batches of DIY trail mixes with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Portion into bags.
- Veggies and hummus - Cut up vegetable sticks. Pair with portioned hummus for dipping.
- Protein bites - Mix oats, nut butter, protein powder. Form into balls and refrigerate or freeze.
- Muffin tin lunches - Assemble bite-size lunch ingredients into muffin tins for balanced portions.
- Mason jar meals - Layer lunches neatly in mason jars. Mix up when ready to eat salad-in-a-jar style.
- Yogurt parfaits - Prep parfaits with yogurt, granola, and berries for easy grab-and-go snacks.
Prepared snacks and lunches prevent grabbing unhealthy convenience food when hunger hits.
Meal Prep Tips for Saving Time
Incorporate time-saving practices:
- Cook in bulk - Make large batches of basics like rice, chicken, and chopped veggies for multiple meals.
- Use meal templates - Follow a formula like grain + vegetable + protein to quickly assemble balanced meals.
- Take note of shortcuts - identify time-saving options like buying pre-chopped veggies.
- Multitask - While the chicken cooks, start the side dishes. Double up cooking tasks.
- Limit the number of dishes - reuse pans instead of using multiple dishes. Foil and liners also simplify cleanup.
- Store efficient tools together - Keep prep supplies like cutting boards and utensils together.
- Clean as you go - Wash used tools and dishes throughout. This prevents a huge mess to cleaned later.
Meal prepping takes organization, but doesn't have to take all day. Use time wisely.
Frequently Asked Meal Prep Questions
Does meal prep food taste as good as reheated?
Yes, use microwave-safe containers and add a little moisture when reheating to keep food tender. Plus having meals ready to grab makes them taste even better!
What foods don't meal prep well?
Avoid mushy vegetables, dry chicken, and soggy grains. Choose hardy recipes designed for make-ahead cooking and reheating.
How long do prepared meals last?
Refrigerated meals are kept for 3-4 days. Frozen meals are safe for about 3 months in air-tight containers. Discard food if you see any signs of spoilage.
Can you meal prep for an entire month?
Yes, but freshness declines after about two weeks. Prepare a two-week supply, then freeze it in portions to defrost and eat for the next two weeks.
Start Meal Prepping Now
Preparing meals in advance saves time and allows you to enjoy nutritious homemade food more often. The tips in this guide make the process fast and approachable for beginners.
Begin with a few meals or lunches. As you become proficient, gradually increase the complexity of your preps. Soon whipping up a week’s worth of meals will feel easy and routine.
Meal prepping gives you back time, helps you save money, promotes healthier eating, and reduces waste. Begin your meal prep journey today!