Meal planning refers to the practice of dishes or an entire meal preparation ahead of time. It’s especially popular with busy people because it can help them save a lot of time.
Having pre-prepared meals on hand can also help you stick to your nutrition objectives by reducing portion sizes. You will not have to cope with unhealthy choices like TV dinners or takeaway this way, especially if you’re stressed or tired. Meal planning can also lead to more healthful meal choices in the long run because it necessitates making a meal plan ahead of time.
Despite popular belief, there are a variety of ways to meal prep that do not all entail spending an entire Sunday afternoon preparing meals for the coming week. You have the option of selecting the strategies that are most effective for you.
Meal Preparation in a Variety of Ways
You may believe that preparing meals for the week ahead will take up a significant portion of your weekend. There’s no need to spend your entire Sunday afternoon in the kitchen, either, because dinner prep can be carried out in different ways. Everyone can find a food preparation approach that suits them.
Meal prep is done in a variety of methods, the most popular of which are:
- Make-ahead meals are fully cooked meals that can be refrigerated and reheated at a later time. This is especially useful for evening meals.
- Making big batches of a certain recipe and then dividing it into individual pieces to be put in the freezer and eaten over the next few months is known as batch cooking. These are common choices for a warm lunch or dinner.
- Preparing fresh meals and portioning them into separate grab-and-go servings that can be refrigerated and enjoyed over the next few days. This is very useful for fast lunches.
- Ingredients in a ready-to-cook state: Preparing the ingredients needed for specific meals ahead of time to reduce cooking time in the kitchen.
Your aims and daily activities will determine which technique will work best for you.
Choosing an Appropriate Number and Variety of Meals
In a meal plan, it can be difficult to determine how many meals to prepare and what to include in each meal. The easiest strategy to prepare ahead is to pick which meals you want to focus on and which meal-prepping method is ideal for your lifestyle. Then look at your calendar to see how many breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you’ll need for the week ahead.
You can also use an app to help you decide what to cook. The WW app, for example, offers a new function called “What’s in Your Fridge?” that suggests recipes based on the goods you have on hand.
Remember to factor in instances when you’re likely to dine out, such as on dates, brunch with friends, or client dinners.
When deciding which meals to prepare, it’s better to start with a small number of tried-and-true recipes. This will make dinner preparation much simpler for you. It’s also vital to avoid sticking to just one recipe for the entire week. This lack of diversity might cause boredom and prevent your body from getting the nutrition it requires.
Instead, choose meals that include a variety of veggies and protein-rich foods, as well as complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, or sweet potatoes. Another approach to create diversity is to include a vegetarian or vegan meal in the mix.
Make-ahead breakfasts, for example, may be the greatest option if you want to simplify your daily routine. Keeping batch-cooked meals in the freezer, on the other hand, is especially useful for individuals with limited evening time.
You can mix and match the various meal-prepping options depending on your circumstances. Start with the strategy that appeals to you the most, then gradually try out the others to check which one is the most suitable for you.
Cooking Time Saving Techniques
Few individuals relish the prospect of spending hours in the kitchen preparing meals. This is understandable, given that the primary motivation for meal preparation is to save time in the kitchen.
The strategies listed below will help you cut down on meal prep and cooking time.
Maintain a Regular Routine
Meal prepping is most effective when done on a regular basis. Knowing when you’ll go grocery shopping and prepare your meals will help you establish a nice habit.
You may, for example, set off Sunday mornings for grocery shopping and meal preparation. You may also make lunches for the rest of the week on Monday evenings.
The schedule is entirely up to you and should correspond to your weekly agenda. Remember that setting out specified times and sticking to them will streamline the decision-making process and free up mental room for other things.
Choose the Right Recipe Combination
Choosing the appropriate recipe combination will help you become more efficient in the kitchen. Choose recipes that require different cooking processes to save time. Too many recipes that call for the same item — say, the oven — will limit the amount of foods you can make at once.
When choosing make-ahead meals or batch cooking, this is very crucial. Stick to one oven meal and no more than two cooktop dinners at a time, such as loaded baked potatoes, stir-fry, and soup. Then simply add non-cooking foods, such as sandwiches or salads, to the mix.
Plan Your Meal Preparation and Cooking Times
In the kitchen, a well-thought-out workflow will save you a lot of time.
Start with the recipe that requires the longest cook time to effectively organize your prep and cook times. This is usually a soup or an oven dish. Concentrate on the rest of the dinner after it’s started. Cold meals should be made last because they may simply be prepared while the other meals are cooking.
Before beginning any dish, double-check all of the ingredients to save time. You’ll be able to chop the entire quantity of diced onions or julienned peppers at once if two recipes call for it. Using automated appliances like a rice cooker or a slow cooker can help you optimize your process even more.
Make a grocery list.
Shopping for groceries may be a huge waste of time.
Keep a precise grocery list sorted by supermarket categories to cut down on the time you spend at the grocery store. You will save time by not having to return to a previous section and this will allow you to finish your purchasing faster.
Limiting your grocery shopping to once a week and using a supermarket delivery service are two other strategies to cut down on your shopping time.
Check out the Key to Happy and Healthy Family Meals!