Meal Prepping Tips and Tricks
Meal prepping is a simple way to simplify your nightly routine and keep your eating on track. You are more likely to stick to your meal plan if you have it planned to begin with, have all the ingredients on hand, and keep it simple. The key to meal planning is consistency. Plan your upcoming meals on the same day and plan the same way each week.
In our house, we’ve been meal planning for almost 10 years. I have to admit, in all those years we’ve not meal planned only a handful of times and I have to say, it hasn’t been pretty. Meal planning has literally saved us time and money, prevented impulse carry out ordering and general frustration in not knowing what to eat.
Below are all of the tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years to help keep us on track and slightly more sane. My hope is that it will do the same for you!
Kat’s Meal Prepping Tips & Tricks
- Plan your meals for the upcoming week on the same day, every week. I usually plan next week’s meals on Thursday with a grocery order pick up or shopping trip on Saturday.
- Instacart has saved us during the pandemic. Making it easy to shop without having to go to the store and keeping track of our frequently purchased items for quick additions each week has taken our meal planning to the next level.
- Print your favorite recipes and keep them nearby. We keep a 1” binder in a kitchen cabinet with our favorite recipes for easy access. We’ve accumulated a solid recipe repository that we can rotate through each week.
- Have theme nights to make meal selection easier. In our house, Sunday is ‘comfort food’ day, Tuesday is ‘taco tuesday’ and Thursday is always ‘leftover’ day. We also plan for crockpot or instant pot meals on nights we have kid activities to make things easier.
- Always plan for a leftover night. Even with six people in our house, we always end up with leftovers. Having a leftover night, for us it’s Thursday, gives you a night off from cooking and reduces food waste.
- Always plan for a salad. I make a point to include a veggie side with all of the meals we plan for the week. But for that extra veggie boost I always plan for a salad as well. Normally I just chop a bunch of veggies and lettuce but sometimes I’ll switch things up a bit and grab a salad kit from the market.
- Eat dinner for lunch. Double the amount of dinner you cook to ensure that you and your partner or kids have lunch for the following day. This prevents snacking in the absence of a plan and adhoc fast food lunches.
- Keep the weeknight meals simple. Skip homemade chicken nuggets, lasagna and any other meal that involves a number of steps. Stick with recipes that have less than 10 ingredients and take less than 30 mins to prepare and cook.
- Prep your veggie and fruit snacks on the weekends. Pre chopping fruits and veggies for easy access during your busy week makes it easier for you to eat your produce portions during the week. A little extra of prep time on the weekend makes the week a breeze!
- Our favorite veggies to prep for the week are: carrot sticks, celery sticks, sliced cucumbers.
- We also keep bananas and apples on hand for quick snacks. Pair either with peanut butter for a little fat/protein boost!
- Prep and/or cook your weekly meals on the weekends. I used to travel for work every week and before heading out of town, I would cook all of my family’s meals on the weekend so they had easy access to meals for the week while I was gone. This prep takes a bit longer than chopping produce but is worth it if you’ve got a hectic weeknight schedule.
- Breakfast should be easy and simple. I will be the first to admit that breakfast is the hardest meal for me to plan and I can easily survive off a few cups of coffee until lunch. Keeping a few staples on hand will make your breakfast oh so easy!
- Keep the actual planning simple. Each week I use a single sheet of paper to list out the days of the week with space at the bottom of the page to write down my grocery list. As I populate meals next to each day, I add the ingredients needed, while checking my pantry, in the blank space. I focus first on the recipe ingredients and then fill in the list with my weekly essentials.