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Hi, y’all! Welcome back. 🙂 I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled with lots of love! And chocolate.♥ Now chocolate is true love, right?! Last week, we talked about how to meal plan effectively and today, we’re taking the next step! What do you do once you have all of that food?? Well, you meal prep, of course! Preparing your food a few days in advance may seem like a huge chore, but once you get the hang of how to meal prep, it will become second nature.
1 // Develop a Plan
Just like your first step of meal planning is to make sure you’re organized, meal prep is much the same. You cannot walk into the kitchen without a plan and expect things to go efficiently and effectively! I used to spend probably four hours every Sunday making one meal at a time. At a certain point, that didn’t work for me anymore. I have less time and more responsibility than I used to, so I had to come up with a different method. Now I can be in and out in 90 minutes and wrap up with breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the week, plus dinner for that night!
Take stock of your meal plan for the week. Go over prep times, cook times, etc. Develop a plan, either written or in your head, so you can maximize your time in the kitchen. Do you have a slow cooker dish? Do you have a dish that requires 30+ minutes in the oven? Work smarter, not harder, by prepping those meals first and using their cook time to prep other meals.
Based on the meals you’ve chosen, sometimes it’s smarter not to prep them in advance. That may seem counterproductive based on our topic, but hear me out. Is your breakfast pre-packaged oatmeal? Are your lunches microwavable freezer meals? Don’t waste your time by prepping these in advance when you can use that time for preparing meals that will take more time.
I also choose not to prep my weekly dinners in advance. My husband and I like to cook together during the week, but I still have ways of saving time with those meals, which I discuss here! Another great meal prep tip — if you’re making a meal later in the week that requires shredded chicken, throw that in your slow cooker with water or broth and let it cook over a few hours. Shred when it’s ready and store in the refrigerator. BAM — chicken is prepped and ready to go.
2 // Gather Tools and Ingredients
I find that I save a lot of time by having everything I need in front of me instead of going back and forth to cabinets during my prep. I know my kitchen like the back of my hand, yet if I don’t have my garlic powder right in front of me, I might mistakenly omit it. For that reason, I like to gather everything I need for a particular dish before I start the prep, then I can put it away as I go.
Another huge component of effective meal prep is having the right tools available. We are blessed in that we got some awesome kitchen gadgets when we got married last year, and I’ve loved using them for meal prep. Some of my FAVORITE kitchen tools are our KitchenAid Mixer, Nutri Ninja Auto-IQ Blender System (awesome blender/food processor AIO), and the One Second Slicer. I HATE chopping onions, and this thing makes it SO EASY!
I’m also super lucky that my husband is a knife connoisseur. He studies up on the best types of steel for any project he might undergo and we have knives hidden in every drawer. Ha! #manstuff He ordered me this SPYDERCO kitchen knife a few months ago and I use it all the time.
Having all of these tools readily available will make your prep go much smoother!
3 // Eliminate Distractions
With kiddos running around and various things going on, this can be easier said than done. However, I urge you to try and eliminate as many distractions as you can! Most women, myself included, are masters of multitasking. When it comes to meal prepping though, I try to focus on only that. Close the door if that’s an option, put on some music and get in the zone, or better yet, utilize nap time for the kiddos or a time when your spouse may be out running errands. If you can stay focused, you’ll appreciate the time saved.
4 // Finish
My success comes when everything is prepped down to the container it’s stored in! I always finish my meal prep by packing my lunch bag for the following day and ensuring that every other serving for the rest of the week is ready to be thrown in my bag. As soon as a meal has cooled enough to store, I will divide it into containers and transfer them to the refrigerator. If one of my snacks for the week includes grapes, I pull out five plastic bags and divvy up the servings. I’ve learned if I tell myself, “I’ll do it in the morning,” I, in fact, won’t do it in the morning. 😉 Having my food ready in grab-and-go bags or containers is the most important step I take.
5 // ENJOY!
Enjoy the extra time you have this week that’s NOT being spent prepping meals or running around crazily. Rest a little longer, spend time with your spouse, pat yourself on the back for making a healthy choice!
Do you meal prep? What does it look like for you?