The benefits of home cooked meals are well known and boundless. It’s healthier, cheaper, and fun to take a sense of pride in the meals you create. But in this day and age, who has time to plan and prepare a meal every night? You do. That’s right, you do! By planning and preparing meals on your day off, you can take the hassle and indecision out of cooking at home.
Make time. Pick a day and set aside a specific time to meal prep. Give yourself a whole morning or afternoon to gather ingredients and do the cooking. Be sure to make it a priority. This may not be what you want to spend your Sunday afternoon doing, but it will make your work week go so much smoother.
Have a plan. The most important part of meal prepping is the planning stage. Variety is the spice of life, so peruse your favorite recipe sites and Pinterest to find fun new recipes to try. Once you have decided on your recipes for the week, use a meal planner that you can hang on your fridge. This will help you during prepping and also remind you and your family or housemates what’s for dinner each night. Check out these free printables!
Make a list. Once you have settled on some recipes and filled out your meal planner, make a list of all the ingredients you will need. If you really want to simplify your meal prep, choose recipes with similar ingredients so that you can buy in bulk and save even more money. For instance, buy a big bunch of spinach and make frittatas one night and a casserole for another.
Do the math. Calculate how many people you have to feed and adjust the recipe accordingly. If you don’t mind eating the same thing a couple nights a week, that makes your prepping even easier – just make more! You can rotate your meals so you aren’t eating the same thing two days in a row. For instance, make your spaghetti and eat it Monday and Wednesday, and have your roast on Tuesday and Thursday. You can switch it up without having to make a different meal for each day.
Freeze it up. Pick recipes that can be frozen and then reheated for meals that you can prepare more than a week in advance. Casseroles, lasagna, enchiladas, and even soups can be frozen and then reheated when you want them. Before freezing your newly prepped meals, be sure to let them cool down. Not allowing your foods to cool down before freezing can trap moisture in your meals and alter the texture of your food, leaving you with mushy and bland food. Opt for moisture-proof freezer bags to prevent freezer burn.
Store it up. Make sure you have ample supplies for storing your prepared meals. Your kitchen should be well stocked with Mason jars, Tupperware, and plastic bags to keep all your meals properly sealed and stored for maximum freshness and taste. It may be worthwhile to invest in glass containers, since you can reheat your meals directly in the container.
Get organized. A well stocked and organized refrigerator (and kitchen) is the key to meal prepping happiness. Be sure you have plenty of space in your refrigerator and freezer once these meals are prepped. Utilize baskets and Lazy Susans or turntables for optimum storage ease.
Make it fun. Do your prep with a friend, or your significant other, or even get the kids involved. Cooking is more fun when you have company and can turn it into a fun bonding activity rather than treating it like a chore. Play some upbeat tunes and make it a kitchen party!