If you follow any health/food/fitness bloggers, I’m SURE you’ve seen endless meal or food prep posts, right? Salads, muffins, quinoa bakes, veggies, hard boiled eggs, etc. While it all looks and sounds amazing, I’d be lying if it didn’t seem overwhelming- and time consuming! How do these people have time to do all of this? How long does all of it take? Where do they find all the recipes?
We are all busy and have lots of different things on our calendars that may not allow us to spend as much time in the kitchen as we would like. Or, maybe you don’t want to spend a lot of the time in the kitchen even if your schedule does allow for it. So, my goal today is to show you that there are simple ways to maximize your food prep in minimal time. As much as I’d love to have 3-4 hours a week or weekend to dedicate to meal prep (I love cooking, baking and preparing for the week), it’s generally not possible these days.
- Start small- Rather than comparing yourself to what you’re seeing others prepare and post about, focus on where you can start. Maybe that’s putting together yogurt bowls or hard boiling some eggs or maybe you pack up your veggies for your daily snack. All of these things are “meal prep” in my mind because they are things that make your life a little easier during the week!
- Keep it simple- You don’t need to make lots of different recipes in order to do “meal prep”. What we find the easiest and most successful in our house is to just prep a ton of veggies: sweet potatoes, kale, broccoli, green beans, brussels sprouts, etc. From there, we can eat them throughout the week in different ways: for breakfast, on a salad, in a wrap, etc.
- Versatility- As I’ve mentioned, try and prep items that have multiple uses or could be used for multiple meals. Example: hard boiled eggs- these can be taken for breakfast or added to a salad for lunch. Healthy muffins or no bake balls can be used for breakfast or a snack. Chicken can be used on a salad, in a wrap, in a quinoa bowl, etc.
- Do it on the day that works for you- Just because others do meal prep on Sundays, it doesn’t mean you need to! If Mondays or Tuesdays work better, then do it then. When I worked from home on Mondays I would often do a “meal prep Monday”, but now that I work from home on Tuesdays and teach after work I try to get the meal prep done on Sundays.
- Do what you can when you can/split it up- “Splitting” up my meal prep was something I discovered over the summer. Sunday’s were usually spent doing summer things like getting drinks, coming back from the Cape or going for long bike rides, which left little time for a big meal prep. I taught on Monday’s so I didn’t have a lot of time then, either. What did I do? Sunday nights I would peel, cut & prep the veggies I wanted to cook (sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, etc.). On Monday’s while I was teaching, RM would cook the veggies (and usually grill some chicken). This worked out well because we were able to tag-team the meal prep and neither one of us had to spend hours in the kitchen.
- Splurge on partially prepped items- If you shop at Whole Foods, I’m sure you’re familiar with their “chop” area, which is basically an area in the store where they’ve pre-chopped & packaged various veggies. Think: peppers and onions, brococli and cauliflower, spiralized sweet potatoes, carrots and zucchini, etc. While these items are definitely more expensive than buying them un-prepped, they save you lots of time! Another cheaper option is buying frozen veggies. Making a stir-fry? Consider grabbing a bag of frozen veggies as that speeds up the meal prep/cooking by quite a bit! Bottom line, if you’re looking looking for a way to speed up your meal prep, this is a great option – and it’s still cheaper than ordering out!
Although I could go on, I think I’ll stop here as this should provide you with a look into how you can make meal prep a little easier on you. I used to stress if I didn’t prep a bajillion different things on Sunday, so I am very happy that I’ve learned some of these ‘tricks’ over the years because not only does it take the stress out of meal prepping, it makes it more fun AND allows me to do other fun things – win, win!
Questions for you: Do you like to meal prep or do you prefer to cook each night or order out? Do you have any time-saving tips for meal prep?