Dr. Valerie Cachola
The Secret To Fast Meal Prepping
At the end of a long day, or the middle of one, or even the beginning of the day before it feels like your eyes have completely opened, staring at a shelf of ingredients and imagining them as a healthy meal is overwhelming.
You’ve got a few recipes but which one is going to be the best and utilize the best ingredients? And everything feels like it’s a little out of control and you’re just not sure where to start.
Have no fear!
Meal planning made easy is ready to take those ingredients and turn them into a full meal that caters to everyone in your home!
You’ll be able to have a meal ready and waiting or a comprehensive plan on hand that uses up the correct ingredients without overwhelming your system.
Let’s get started!
Batch Your Ingredients
You’ve just gotten home from your weekly shopping trip, and now you’re facing a mountain of groceries to put away and get organized. A simple way to put it all together is to create batches for the week. Rather than make up two or three casseroles and a bunch of different side dishes, put ingredients in tubs or bags with a label saying what meal it will be. You can put it together to keep in the fridge for any refrigerated items and in the pantry for dry ingredients! When your menu indicates that you’re having spaghetti and meatballs, you can pull out the tub with the dry ingredients and cold ones to bring together without having to dig through all the other products on the shelf.
As you’re looking at your menu for the week, there are bound to be a few ingredients that can be cooked up in advance. Identify two or three of them and plan out the best way to cook them now, while you have time, so they can be quickly warmed up and served later on! Ground beef, chicken, and rice are easy to make large batches of and then keep in the fridge to be eaten throughout the week. If you’re trying to plan out work or school lunches too, these make a great option to grab and pack up in advance for a complete meal! Freeze or refrigerate your cooked ingredients and then pull them out with each night of the meal. If you’re making tacos for example, brown up your ground beef on your weekly prep night, freeze the correct amount, label the bag or freezer-safe container, and then just pull it out to warm up in the oven or on the stovetop!
On your weekly prep trip, you’ve likely bought some ingredients in bulk. That huge bag of flour, sugar, rice, or other ingredients isn’t going to fit into your batched meal containers and can take up even more room in your pantry than you thought possible. Measure out the correct amount you need for each meal and bag or box it up to be put with the rest of the prepped ingredients! You can go further and transfer everything into easier-to-use containers that are measured, sealed, and can be put away and organized within your pantry or fridge and freezer. Don’t be scared to freeze some ingredients as well after they’ve been measured out for later use. This will keep them fresh and make it easy to clear off pantry shelves to keep the chaos to a minimum.
Setting aside ingredients for one meal can feel like a waste. After all, who wants to make taco meat for one? Instead of just making the meal for one person, double or triple the recipe to make a larger batch! You can break it down into more individual servings, or keep it all in a large container. You’ll be able to scoop out a portion when you need it, or grab the correct portion size before you cook or leave the house. On top of the convenience of having a little more to choose from, you’ll also be able to use up ingredients more efficiently and use your time wisely! For most meals, it doesn’t take more time to double a recipe but if you had to cook another meal from scratch again in the same week, you’ll be running out of time before you realize!
Your weekly cooking and finalizing prep is crucial to the success of your meal planned week. Taking time to batch together ingredients for meals, doubling recipes to save on ingredients, and measuring out bulk items will cut back on the effort you need later on. The purpose of meal prepping for the week is to ensure that you’ve got time when you need it most. Investing now is the insurance for that time save!