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Meal prep is cooking a number of healthy meals for the week ahead of time. This makes it easier to avoid impulsive food buying and eating.
Choose recipes that are easy to cook in bulk and will taste good reheated. Focus on preparing grains, proteins, fruits and veggies.
Make a Plan
A meal prep plan will help you stay organized, save time and reduce food waste. It will also give you confidence that you have healthy meals for the week and help you stick to your nutrition goals.
Start by making a list of foods that you would like to prepare based on your favorite recipes, diet and health goals. You can use a meal planning app or simply write your plan down on a piece of paper.
Next, consider what ingredients you need to buy for your planned meals. Be sure to include any staples such as eggs (hard-boiled, scrambled or fried) and proteins (chicken, fish, red meat) along with vegetables and any sides you’ll be eating throughout the week (such as roasted vegetables or salads).
Having these items in your fridge or freezer will reduce impulsive buying and help you avoid spending money on foods that may spoil quickly. You can save time by shopping online using a grocery delivery service or planning your meals and shopping list on the AnyList app, which curates recipes and grocery lists for you.
Make a Grocery List
One of the first things you’ll need to do when meal prep is make a grocery list. This will help you ensure that you have all the ingredients needed to prepare your meals for the week. Having a well-stocked pantry will also save you time and money because you won’t have to go to the store often.
Palinski-Wade suggests making a master list by going through your fridge, freezer and food cupboards to take stock of what you have on hand. This can be a great way to plan your meals for the week, see what you need to use up before it goes bad and cut down on food waste.
You can also organize your list by sectioning off food categories like canned goods, fruits, vegetables, proteins and dairy products. This can be especially helpful if you shop in a specific location at your store or have to get multiple items from different sections. Some people even divide their lists by aisles, which can be useful if you tend to stick to a particular shopping route.
Make a List of Recipes
Whether you cook full make-ahead meals or batch cook ingredients that can be reheated later, meal prep can save you time and money. It can also help you stick to your healthy eating goals and reduce food impulsivity.
If you’re a beginner to meal prepping, it may seem overwhelming at first. However, with a little practice you’ll discover how to meal plan and prepare foods that fit your schedule and taste preferences.
When you meal prep, you’re washing and chopping veggies, cooking rice, marinating meat or baking cookies at one time for multiple meals. It’s important that you choose recipes with ingredients that hold up well when frozen or reheated.
This could include hard vegetables, roasted potatoes, salads in airtight containers and savoury soups. It’s also important to consider how much time you want to spend meal prepping. If you’re prepping the same recipe for an entire week, it will quickly get boring! To avoid this, try to mix up the ingredients each day or add different sauces and garnishes. This way, you’ll always have a fresh and nutritious meal on hand.
Make a List of Ingredients
An ingredients list is found under the Nutrition Facts Label on the back of any packaged food and shows what is in the product. Ingredients are listed in descending order of weight from the main ingredient to other additives or spices/herbs/sweeteners. Water, which can be used to reconstitute dehydrated ingredients like beans, is usually listed near the end of the list.
A common method for listing recipes is to include the ingredient and the amount needed, with the amount needed first in larger print. This is helpful for those who have trouble measuring smaller amounts of ingredients (for example, a pinch of salt or 1/2 teaspoon pepper).
A ratio approach to listing recipes is commonly seen with recipes for breads and salad dressings. These recipes are often based on a recipe formula and can easily be scaled up or down to the desired quantity. You can also add ingredients to your grocery list that you have already purchased, or tagged as having allergens so that they appear in the Nutrition Information tab on a recipe once you create it.
Make a List of Tools
Whether you’re planning your week ahead on paper or using a meal prep app, you will need the right tools to prepare and store meals. These kitchen utensils and gadgets, from containers to food processors, help make the process easier and more efficient so that you can get your meal prep done quickly and enjoy the benefits of the extra time you save.
You will also need a variety of meal prep containers that can hold and freeze meals in the fridge or freezer. Mason jars work well for individual portioned salads or other healthy grab and go options, as do plastic storage containers with lids and zip-top storage bags.
A good knife set is another must, since many recipes require cutting or chopping, and a good quality chef’s knife is essential for prepping meat, especially if you plan to grill or broil it. A food scale is helpful for cooking and baking, and a set of measuring spoons that include a large and small cup will make it easy to measure everything in one step. Finally, a microplane is a great tool for grating fresh herbs and zesty lemon or lime peel to add flavor to dishes, soups and sauces