Step by Step Guide to Meal Prep

Meal Prep is a current buzz word that is likely filling your Instagram feed and Facebook timeline.

Even though this may seem like an easy concept… you cook a bunch of food, right?!?! There are plenty of tricks I’ve learned over the years that will make you successful at your meal prep and not leave you ordering take out by Tuesday. After all, I’ve got plenty of practice with a husband who claims to eat healthy, but refuses to eat anything that takes longer than 2 minutes to prepare. He won’t admit it but the microwave is his favorite “cooking utensil”. As I write this, I’m out of town for work so he is either extremely famished, looking through the fridge for decent food I prepared Sunday or he’s keeping Panera in business. So, for those of you without a significant other to do all your cooking here are my hacks.

Step 1: Decide what you want to eat
This step may seem trivial, but it is very important. Going to the store without a plan will lead to #mealprepfail. You are certain to forget items or make enough food for an army or even worse impulse buy Oreo’s, Ice Cream and Fruity Pebbles. Not that I know anything about that. Considerations when picking your meals:
– Does it reheat well?
– Can it be eaten either hot or cold? If you do not have means to reheat food at your workplace, then you should pick something that can be enjoyed cold.
– Pick something that you will enjoy multiple times.
– Determine the number of meals you need for the week and scale recipes accordingly.

My meal prep plan includes chili, meatloaf, sweet potato fries and green beans.
The chili makes 10 servings, but I can freeze leftovers. The meatloaf makes four servings, but Matt and I both enjoy this so we will easily polish off this dish and let’s face it 1 Serving for Matt is about 2 or 3 of my servings. So, my meal prep will cover about 4 lunches and 2 dinners for me. If you need more, then adjust your servings or add more food.

Step 2: Make a Store List
After years of making paper lists and leaving them at home, I have switched to electronic store lists. There are several apps for keeping your list, but I use Apple Notes because it is iCloud based so my husband and I can share the list. How many of you have sent your significant others to the store without a list for a few things and they come home with 20 items, none of which were on the list? (I sense a recurring theme here.) This makes it convenient for us to add things as we think of them and to quickly pull up the list at the store.

Review your cabinets and your recipes to determine the items you need for the store and get shopping!

Step 3: Get Cookin’

Start with the food that takes the longest. For me, I am going to start with the chili so it can simmer while I cook the other items.
Next, I began cooking the sweet potato fries. I need to get this recipe posted soon. Matt swears I sprinkle crack on these… be warned, they are highly addictive. Then I prepared the meatloaf, followed by the green beans.
After 90 minutes in the kitchen, with some down time, I had meals for the week (so I thought, until Matt came home hangry). Now when I come home from work the biggest hurdle will be waiting for my food to be heating (and waiting for it to cool before chowing down ).

You can also package and portion all your meals the day you cook, so it’s easy to grab a lunch on the way out the door.

Here are some recipe options that are great for meal prep:
Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole
Mexican Lasagna
Mongolian Chicken