Committing to making your life healthier and more efficient is so quickly done. You told all your friends, you posted about it on social media, heck, you even downloaded all the healthy-life apps! But when it comes time to make healthy and nutritious meals after a long day at work, it’s easy to see how even the best-laid plans can start to fall apart.
Even if it sounds daunting, spending a bit of time meal planning and prepping every week can improve the effectiveness of your new healthy mindset. And if that’s not enough, it can also make your life a whole lot simpler as you won’t have to face the dreaded question, “what’s for dinner?”
1. Bookmark Recipes
Even if you’ve never made a meal plan before, a great place to start is to keep an eye out for healthy and quick recipes that you want to cook and bookmark them for later. Keeping a backlog of recipes will help streamline the meal prep process, and spending time looking for tasty meals is never wasted.
2. Plan to Plan
Think about when you’re going to write your shopping list, when you’re going to go to the grocery store, and when you’re going to cook (plus how long each meal takes) and schedule this time in the same way you would with any other appointment.
This type of planning will also help you organize your refrigerator, as you can put the ingredients you’re going to use first near the front and leave the end-of-week items nearer the back.
3. Write a Proper Grocery List
The most organized and together people will have a grocery list pinned to their refrigerator (or on their phone) that they add to throughout the week. This way, you’ll notice when supplies are low and never run out of essentials such as pasta, rice, or coffee.
Be sure to add the ingredients (and amounts) for your chosen meals to your grocery list each week before heading to the store. If you know you have everything written down, you know you’ll get everything, and you won’t have any excuse not to cook!
4. Organize your Refrigerator
Having a tidy, well-organized refrigerator and pantry can make a huge difference in how motivated you are to maintain your meal prepping prowess and save loads of time otherwise wasted looking for the right ingredients.
You could take this as far as pre-portioning the vegetables you’ll need for each planned dish or separate last night’s lasagne into individual portions ready for later.
5. Have the Right Kit
Similarly, keeping your kitchen organized and prepared for action with the right equipment will make a difference in whether you stick to your meal plan or quickly get fed up and return to your takeout-loving ways.
Think about the sort of meals you enjoy cooking and eating, and invest in the kitchen equipment required to make them.
Any productive kitchen will already have a food processor, standing mixer, and cast-iron skillets, but you could also get more bespoke products to streamline cooking. For example, if you love homemade tortillas, you might want to invest in a quality tortilla press like these.
6. Get Creative with Leftovers
Much of meal prepping is cooking large portions and eating them over a number of days, but this can get boring after a time. Keep your meals interesting by mixing it up with new and creative dishes that use the same ingredients.
Not only will this keep your motivation levels up, but it will also save you money and help to reduce food waste, so you’re doing a good thing for the planet, too!
Women’s Weekly has some awesome tips to spice up your leftovers, or keep an eye on Pinterest and Instagram to see what others have been cooking up!
If healthy meal planning still sounds daunting, just remember, even prepping a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids’ school lunches counts! Simply prepare any meal ahead of time and you’re in the club.
No matter what social media says, food and cooking should be fun! And meal planning is there to make your life less strenuous, not more. Start small by prepping just a few dishes and work your way up to a fully-fledged meal prepping goddess over time.
And don’t panic if you haven’t ordered your last takeout… There’s room for that too!