Many people fear prepping their meals in advance because of the amount of time it takes or for fear of food spoiling by the end of the week. But learning the easy way to prepare your meals for the week is a key aspect of helping yourself stay on track with your desired nutrition plan. While you can make healthy choices while eating out, it is not always ideal and is definitely NOT cost effective. Keep reading for easy ways to prepare your meals for the week that are cost and time effective- a win/win for all of you busy bees!
Each week I spend about 150 dollars on 7 days worth of food. If I were to eat out once a day for lunch and buy a snack at the store, I would EASILY spend 9 dollars a meal. Per week that adds up to about 63 dollars alone. If you order an appetizer or extra sides…keep tacking on the dollars.
When I first started to prepare my meals for the week, it would take me several hours and was nearly an all-day affair. Now I have found the system that works the best for me. As long as I stay focused while I am in the kitchen, I can make sure that the microwave, stove top and oven are being used to prepare as much food as possible. As each item is done cooking, I separate them into specific containers so that I can clean up the space and reuse the pot or pan to cook the next item.
YES- It will take some time and practice to get the hang of it, but prepping your meals in 1 day for a few hours beats having to cook 2 or 3 meals at home each day which would take you WAY more time in the long run.
Long story short… buying and preparing your own meals will save you time and money (two of my favorite things). Below are some tips and an easy way to prepare your meals for the week that will help you stay on track. These specific strategies help me save time in the kitchen each day! At this point I can have most of my weekly meal preps done in 2 hours from start to finish giving me plenty of time to take care of the other important tasks of life such as cleaning, paying bills, doing laundry and spending quality time with my family.
Easy Way to Prepare Your Meals
Preheat Oven– As soon as you walk in the door from shopping, set your oven to 350 degrees and allow it a few minutes to preheat. Buy your groceries and begin your cooking extravaganza. No sense in shopping and storing all of your food when you have to take it out again. Get everything done in 1 shot if you can! As oven is preheating, line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil to make your clean up quick. I cut open all the protein for the week, rinse, place on the baking sheets, season and place in the oven.
Store Perishables– After you place your first batch of items in the oven, place perishables in the refrigerator and keep the dry foods you will be working with on the counter.
Microwave– Place potatoes or frozen vegetables in the microwave through the entire duration of meal prepping. As each item is done heating, remove from the microwave to cool and add in the next item to cook.
Stove Top– As food is baking in the oven and heating in the microwave; I pull out 2 large frying pans and bring to medium high heat on the stove top. I will then cook and season other lean protein such as ground turkey, beef or chicken.
Tupperware and Storing Materials– As items are cooking, pull out all Tupperware and storing materials. Place them in a spot on the counter that is out of the way. As items from the microwave are finished cooking, begin placing them in their respective containers as side items. When the protein gets done cooking, portion them out for each meal in their container, wash the pan and cook remaining protein if needed. When fish is done in the oven, I allow the pans to cool before separating. Remove the used aluminum foil and replace with a fresh sheet if you need to bake more items. As each meal is completed, place the lid on the container and organize into your refrigerator.
Clean as you Go– Don’t wait until the end to clean up the garbage because it will make you feel overwhelmed. Place a small grocery bag on the counter to collect scraps and any packages from the food you are cooking. This keeps the prep space clean and makes cleaning up as simple as wiping down the counters and doing the dishes.
-If you have leftovers from the week prior, keep them on a different shelf than your fresh food so you know what needs to be eaten first.
– Buy items such as frozen vegetables and lean cuts of meat in bulk when they are on sale to save some money- you can freeze the extras. The same goes for dry items such as rice, oatmeal and cooking oil. If they are on sale, these items have a very long shelf life so stock up and buy in bulk rather than buying a small box each week.
-Invest in a small Tupperware and plastic baggie collection to have on hand at all times so that you can separate your meals into the desired portion sizes. I like to get the set of Tupperware that has the medium sized containers so that I can place separate meals in the containers and place them in my lunch bag rather than having to scoop out servings from the large container each day.
The more that you cook your meals in advance by using the easy way to prepare your meals tips that you just read, you will notice that you are less tempted to eat out if you have already spent the money on buying food for yourself. You will also be more likely to stay on track with your nutrition and fitness goals and you will be less likely to make poor food choices. You will also save yourself tons of money if you buy your food and prepare it all yourself. What strategies do you use in the kitchen when preparing nutritious meals? Please share your healthy living tips in the comments section below!
Now that you have a new challenge in the kitchen, are you ready for a new challenge in the gym? Check out this Advanced High Intensity Sprint Workout to try during your next workout. It will be intense- but remember you have to push yourself in order to see the changes you desire.