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How to Start Meal Prepping and Do It The Right Way

by Mary Parker. |

Whether you’re on a diet or simply budget-conscious, meal prepping is a cost-efficient way of adopting better eating habits. However, for someone who doesn’t spend much time in the kitchen, meal prepping seems intense and intimidating.

To help you push past any preconceived notions you have about meal prep, we’ve rounded up some of the best tips that will kick start your new and healthy lifestyle.

1. Invest in good reusable containers

It’s pretty straightforward why reusable containers are a necessary expense for meal-prepping. Although plastic containers cost less than the glass variety, glass food storage options are a better investment for long-term usage. Other than the fact that glass is eco-friendly, plastic wears out over time from microwaving, refrigerator storage, utensil scratches, etc. Plus, when these containers become cracked, cloudy or scratched, Steve Evans from Safe Bee explains that they’re more likely to contaminate your food with BPA. On the other hand, glass containers are durable and stain-free for easier cleaning. Plus, they seal in food freshness for much longer.

Not sure which glass containers to buy? Denise from Sweet Peas and Saffron suggests a starter set that includes pint-size mason jars and a variety of glassware with snap lids, with and without dividers. In addition, she also suggests large freezer bags for freezer meals.

2. Start out as simple as possible

If you don’t cook often, meal prepping will seem too daunting and time-consuming of a task to tackle. Rather than diving in head-first with a dish such as a whole wheat pasta with homemade roasted pepper cream sauce, start with something much less complicated, such as a salad or a hearty sandwich. Listed as one of Crunch’s simple meal prep ideas for busy people, mason jar salads are one of the most fool-proof (and laziest) meals to prepare, so long as you layer all the ingredients correctly, leaving anything leafy on top to avoid soggy greens.

3. Try starting with prepping once a week

When it comes to meal prep, don’t take on more than you can handle. Instead, take it easy and start by picking one meal of the day to prep, particularly the meal that gives you the most grief, or the one that you’re more likely to eat unhealthily. For those who tend to buy fast food on the way to work, meal prepping for breakfast would be the way to go. Ready-made meals save valuable time in the mornings, and with something like overnight oats in the fridge, you might have time to actually sit and enjoy your breakfast before your daily commute.

4. Dedicate a day to buying groceries and cooking

We all love our lazy Sundays, but dedicating one day of the weekend grocery shopping and meal prepping will set you up for the week to come, lessening the amount of cooking, cleanup and the struggle of figuring out what to eat for dinner. All that slaving away in the kitchen will pay off during the workweek when you sleep through your alarm but have breakfast in the fridge ready to go, or come home from a long day and cannot be bothered with making dinner from scratch.

5. Use each week to introduce one new food or flavour you haven't tried

The temptation for takeout and junk food cravings eventually kick in when you’re on the same food routine. Switch things up and keep your palate excited by trying a new recipe, flavour, style of cooking, or food each week. You can designate a theme for the meals of the week, perhaps focusing on Italian cuisine, oven-baked meals or a new health food like chia seeds. According to Pretty Me Philippines, you can add chia seeds to salads or smoothies, or make chia pudding as a breakfast base, adding your choice of milk, sweetener, fruits and nuts.

6. Choose ingredients that can be used in a variety of recipes

Ingredients such as onions, garlic and lemons are known as fridge and pantry staples for their versatility in meals. Such staples may vary from kitchen to kitchen, but most have the same general building blocks, but by all means, don’t feel compelled to follow any one specific pantry essentials guide, like this checklist from The Food Network. Over time, you will determine what your staples are, but do note that creativity in the kitchen thrives when you have the basic elements of a potentially great meal.

Meal prepping can be and appear to be intimidating and tiring especially if we don't spend much time in the kitchen. With that, we hope that by having these tips in mind, your path to healthy eating habits will be less windy, and eventually, the entire process will just come naturally to you.

All the best!

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