Photo: Ella Olsson / Pexels
Whether you’re following a raw food diet or using the best non-stick pan without a Teflon coating to cook, healthy eating requires wholesome ingredients and high-quality tools. If you want to take the effort out of cooking without succumbing to junk food, it also takes a bit of planning ahead. Below, you’ll find five tips to get you started:
1. Decide what you want to make
Before preparing meals, you need to have some idea of what you want to prepare. Hence, the crucial first step is deciding what you’ll eat for the week. This kind of preplanning not only saves you time and reduces food waste, but it also makes it easier to eat healthy all throughout the week. After all, if you’re starving, crunched for time, and unprepared, it’s all too easy to reach for unhealthy snacks.
To begin, write down some healthy meals you love to eat. Focus on things that are relatively easy to prepare, allow for bulk cooking, and taste great when reheated. For example, a big batch of chili, dahl, or veggie soup.
2. Write up a grocery list
Once you’ve decided on the meals you want, list out all the ingredients you’ll need. A clear list of necessities helps you stay organized at the grocery store, ensuring you get everything while avoiding unnecessary impulse purchases.
Consider the recipe for each meal, and write the ingredients and the quantities you need below it. If you’re unsure about the recipe, look it up online, in a cookbook, or by calling a friend or parent who has mastered the dish. Additionally, don’t forget to double-check your fridge and pantry to see if you already have what you need.
3. Prepare your weekly ingredients
Getting your ingredients ready before you need them is an essential part of successful meal prep. It ensures you can put everything together quickly and cuts down on the total cooking time.
Exactly how you prepare your ingredients depends on how you plan to use them. For simple salads and soups, that might mean washing, peeling, and chopping veggies. For a mid-week barbeque, that might involve marinating some meat. If you love padding out meals with sweet potatoes, that might mean pre-cooking a few.
Once properly prepared, place the ingredients in separate containers or bags and store them in the fridge or freezer.
4. Create fun theme nights
Whether it’s “Meatless Mondays” or “Taco Tuesdays,” having a food theme for one, two, or all nights of the week can make meal prep easier and a lot more fun. Not only does it simplify your meal options, but it also allows you to experiment with new takes on old dishes. Plus, it gives you something new to look forward to throughout the week.
Although not infinite, the options for theme nights are vast. You can do a Breakfast-for-Dinner night, Mediterranean Mondays, Pasta Wednesdays, Stir-Fry Thursdays, Pizza Fridays, and many more.
5. Schedule when you prep
Rather than assuming meal prep will magically happen each week, pencil it into your schedule or add a recurring event to your digital calendar. Proper scheduling ensures you’ll get it done without being overwhelmed.
There’s no one right time to prep. However, most people who work on weekdays prefer to do it on Sundays. Some even find it relaxing. Listening to your favorite song or podcast while preparing meals on a Sunday afternoon is a great way to unwind.
Preparing meals ahead of time is a great way to ensure you eat well during the week. Keep the tips above in mind to settle on a schedule that works for you.