...happiness is a fully meal prepped fridge!
I personally love to meal prep, so this is pretty much just an infomercial for meal prepping.
Meal prepping is something that comes in all shapes and sizes - you have to make it work for you. Let's start by looking at the different versions of meal prep:
1. Preparing a large batch of the same one or two options of breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner that you eat through the week.
2. Cooking a wide range of meals once a month that you store in your freezer and use through the month when you’re busy or want a quick meal. This ranges from prepping breakfasts, lunches and dinners to desserts, like cakes.
3. Cooking twice the amount of food needed every time you cook. Instead of setting a day or several hours in a day aside to cook food, like the two examples above, this meal prep approach can just be done every time you cook. You can then freeze the extra food or use it for lunches or dinner on another night.
4. Prepping ingredients. This could be chopping vegetables, mixing spices or marinading meats in advance.
I personally use a mix of the last three types. I cook once a month when I’m making food like beans, stews, chapatis or anything that takes time. I find that whenever I’m cooking food that takes a long time I might as well do it once a month, when possible. You may be asking what other benefits does meal prepping offer apart from saving time Well, it:
· Can save you money, as you may reach for a pre-prepped meal instead of a takeaway.
· Reduces waste because instead of throwing away excess food you can freeze it for another day.
· Allows you to keep track of your health goals.
· Makes a hectic schedule easier as it takes the guesswork out of figuring out you breakfast, lunch or dinner.
· Makes it easier to portion control.
· Could reduce stress around food, and even shopping, because you’re planning ahead.
There are some potential disadvantages with meal prepping:
· You need to set time aside, especially if you’re going to try the cooking for one month or one week.
· You need to be really organised to make sure you don’t burn anything or forget an important ingredient.
· Whether you’re a seasoned or new home cook you can still sometimes make meals you just don’t like the taste of. If you’re making a large batch then this can be really stressful.
· Boring food. If you’re trying out the version where you cook one or two options of meals for your breakfast or dinner for a week, you may run the risk of finding your meals boring after the third or fourth day.
· You need to make sure you store your food correctly or else it might not store well.
Meal prep looks a little different for everyone and if any of the above options look good to you, I would say experiment with each type and see what works. If you’re trying one and it doesn’t work, try another. When it comes to meal prep, overall it isn’t a waste of time if you keep your life simple and remember you can’t meal prep everything. Soft vegetables, cut fruit and crunchy food (like crackers) will only get softer in your refrigerator. Also, when selecting what you’ll prep think about how you’ll reheat your food, so that it doesn’t dry out. The most important thing is to choose your favorite meal - one that you already enjoy as leftovers and can cook easily.
This is how you can avoid common mistakes when starting to meal prep:
· Keep meal prep simple: try and focus on one to two one-pot dishes when starting.
· Prep balanced meals.
· Cook recipes you’ll actually want to eat: if you prep what you think you should eat without considering if you will actually eat it, it could result in wasted food and wasted time.
· Make enough food.
As I said already, I love to meal prep; it can be an easy way to encourage healthy eating habits, make a busy life easier and help with health goals – it’s helped with mine. Hopefully this will encourage you to try it out and if you do, please leave a comment below of what your first meal prep meal was.
Quick Note Slightly Medical Note:
If you have Histamine Intolerance when meal prepping please avoid cooking your food ahead of time and eating food that was cooked a day or more beforehand. This is because histamine levels increase in food the longer it stays uneaten and these high levels can have negative effects on people that are histamine intolerant. If this is you, histamine builds up in the body and is not broken down correctly which may trigger an immune system response resulting in hives, itchy or flushed skin, red eyes, facial swelling, runny nose and congestion, headaches, or asthma attacks. I would instead recommend if you would still like to meal prep then become your personal entremetier aka vegetable prepping chef and prep your vegetables either early in the day or the day before cooking. Cut your carrots , onion and celery, wash your kale and trim your broccoli or prep salad ingredients or spices so that you can save time when it comes time to cooking.
I recently learnt that I am histamine intolerant so I have making changes to how I meal prep. I miss the simplicity of my life that full-scale meal prepping gave me but for now I am working on discovering new approaches to meal prepping. I will share these soon. In the meantime, have fun experimenting with meal prepping.
Till the next one x