Meal Prep for Beginners (and why it’s key to healthy eating)
Meal prep is all the rage lately, but for those of you who haven’t yet jumped on the bandwagon, it’s not too late. And for those of you who are begrudgingly reading this with your arms folded thinking this is not for you, I implore you to give me just a few minutes of your time and hear me out. I am trying to help make your life easier and healthier, NOT stress you out. And this article will help you discover the value of meal prep for beginners.
Different things work for different people, and you don’t have to go full throttle with your meal prep right away as even a little planning can save you a lot of headaches—and one of our most valuable resources: TIME.
I used to be the working, single mother of two who would freak out at 5 o’clock when the kids came running into the kitchen yelling “What’s for dinner?” It would stop me dead in my tracks as I began to open the refrigerator, the freezer, and the cupboards to piece together a healthy, well-balanced meal, or at least try.
Start Small for Meal Prep for Beginners
One day I finally threw in the towel on this whole “fly by the seat of my pants” mentality and decided to be better prepared for meal times. I started small at first and simply made a list of what my family was going to have for dinners each night of the week and went grocery shopping on Sunday. I had my weekly dinners written on a calendar, and all of the ingredients already purchased, so I didn’t have to stare into space at 5 o’clock every evening while my children turned into tiny monsters waiting for dinner.
As I began to get more comfortable with the process, I started to prepare some of the ingredients and have them ready, which cut down on my cooking time. For example, I would cut the vegetables such as cucumbers, peppers, celery, and carrots. This is not only helpful for meal times, but by keeping fresh fruits and vegetables already prepared in your refrigerator, you have ready-to-eat snacks available to grab and go.
Protein Meal Prep for Beginners
I decided to take this one step further, and I began prepping my proteins. I grilled chicken and steak to have on hand for salads, and I hardboiled eggs to have for another quick on-the-go protein source.
When it comes to meal prep for beginners, some folks find it helpful to prepare their menu for the week while others prep the night before for the next day. Both of these options are fantastic. You don’t have to have color-coded containers or anything fancy. In fact, just prepping your ingredients is a game changer.
Let me show you how I do things:
- Proteins: Roast, bake, or poach poultry, meat, or fish
- Produce: Steam or roast vegetables in a big batch, bake potatoes or sweet potatoes, and wash and chop raw fruits and vegetables for salads and snacking
- Grains: Simmer a big batch of rice or quinoa that will feed the family all week long
- Others: Make sauces, dressings, or dips, and any other items on my menu
Meal Prep for Sanity
For me, meal prep isn’t just about eating healthy or improving the look of my body; it’s about my sanity and my time management. By preparing my ingredients and meals in advance, I am free from having to make any sort of decision regarding what to eat for that time. I don’t have to determine where or when I’ll get food, because I have already taken care of that ahead of time. This allows me to use that time for other things like spending time with my children, working out, or doing an activity I enjoy. By better making use of my time, I can focus on other things and am healthier and happier overall.
Again, I have a ton of tips for how meal prep can be adjusted to fit you and your family, and I would be more than happy to share those with you. If you have any specific questions on how to incorporate meal prep into your lifestyle, just leave a comment below, and I will be glad to help!