For most of my adult life, I feel like I’ve been told or encouraged to meal prep. Some people swear it’s the key to healthy eating and others think it’s the ultimate timesaver. I’m here to call bullshit. I’ve meal prepped more times than I can count and you know what happens nine times out of ten? I spend half my Sunday making all this food and then most of it goes bad sitting in the fridge for weeks.
Raise your hand if this is also your meal prepping experience. In the last year, I’ve gotten so sick of it that I tried to reinvent the process to be something that actually worked for me. This is what I’ve come up with so far.
SPEND 10 MINUTES DECIDING ON MEALS/SNACKS FOR THE WEEK
I like to give Pinterest a quick scroll and check out any recipes I might have previously saved. Then I’ll make a list of what meals and snacks sound good. One, maybe two snacks usually does the trick and then three meals. You can choose as many as you’d like, but try to find ones with common ingredients to keep the grocery bill under control.
This can all be done in literally 10 minutes. Of course you can spend more time if you’d like but it’s generally a pretty quick process. It’s amazing what a few quick minutes of planning can do, let me tell you.
SPLURGE ON PRE-CHOPPED FRUITS AND VEGGIES
This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but sometimes I just have to get the pre-chopped fruits and veggies at the store. If I don’t, there’s a chance things will sit in my fridge or in my fruit bowl until I notice a funky smell. I look at it like this: if spending just a little bit more money means I’m actually going to eat fruits and veggies, then it’s worth it to me. Because otherwise I might spend a little less, but ultimately it goes to waste because it just goes bad.
DON’T COOK ALL THE FOOD, JUST PREPARE IT
I think I struggle so much with eating meal-prepped food because it’s like eating leftovers every day. Some things are great as leftovers, but soggy veggies and luke warm beans just don’t do it for me. To get past my issues with leftovers, I like to make a lot of soups because they reheat really well (here’s my favorite recipe) or I like to prepare instead of prep.
The difference in preparing versus prepping is I don’t cook everything and then throw it into Tupperware. Instead, I’ll chop or maybe just cook one portion of the meal I’ll be cooking at some point throughout the week. This way things are ready to go and I only have to throw something in a pot or pan. It’s a timesaver and prevents me from feeling like I’m eating leftovers for every single meal.
TRY TO THINK OF COOKING AS YOUR “ME TIME”
Sometimes I watch Instagram Stories of people cooking in the evening and they’re playing music and sipping on a glass of red, and I think, why isn’t that my experience? So lately I’ve been trying to enjoy the process a little more and not rush through it so much. It’s kind of a shift in mindset, but I’d love to not feel like I’m just racing to the finish line every time I’m cooking.
WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND HEALTHY CONVENIENCE FOODS
This is for when spending your “me time” in the kitchen sounds like the absolute worst. I also mentioned convenience food in this post about affordable weeknight meals and that’s because, let’s be real, sometimes you just don’t want what you’ve prepped. And when you don’t want what you’ve prepped, more than likely you’ll turn to eating out. If you keep a couple Amy’s organic black bean burritos or veggie burgers hanging around then you don’t have to worry about spending money or feeling like you completely fell off the health wagon.
Everyone has their own way of doing things, but for me, adjusting the way I meal prep has made eating throughout the week so much less painful.
Any other meal prepping hacks out there? I’d love to hear them!
Award-winning food scholar. Infuriatingly humble explorer. Music specialist. General tv fanatic. Pop culture geek.