Search bar that reads, “How to healthy meal prep for beginners?” above filled food storage containers with a mug that reads Help Me.

Meal Prep Saves Lives

Or so it does, IMHO. I got started for the same reason a lot of folks do–to manage (or perhaps lose weight). But that was years ago, and I escaped the hold of diet culture, meal planning and prepping stayed with me. One reason is I enjoy it. My husband enjoys cooking, and the girls both love cooking programs and often have ideas about what to try (the big one) and what not to try (the little one)!

As you get savvier with meal prepping, you’ll often learn tips and tricks that help you to get things done quicker. As a newbie meal prepper, it can feel like you spend forever in the kitchen – usually because you’re not aware of the hacks that can cut your prep time! This was certainly the case for me! Now with tools like social media and groups (mine is here), a rookie can benefit from others and deeply cut the learning curve and get right to a sustainable–and hopefully enjoyable–routine!

These tried and tested meal prep hacks should help you to cut down on the time you spend in the kitchen and prep super healthy meals in less time.

The Hacks!

Two Planning Non-Negotiables

Gather the Recipes! I am too embarrassed to mention how many times I started prepping without a roadmap or recipes! When you start out, this is necessary. When you’re meal prepping for the week ahead, you don’t want to be hunting high and low for your go-to recipes. Save yourself tons of time by collecting together your tried-and-tested or still-to-come recipes in a swipe file that you can go to whenever you need.

Use the wisdom of theme nights (they need to make sense for your family and schedule!) Theme nights abound–Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, etc. If your family likes certain types of food create or search for a theme for each night of the week so that you can easily ‘rinse and repeat’ each week. It will make pulling the plan together so much easier and faster so that you can prep things that will use some overlapping ingredients or leftovers! Honorable Mention: having adequate food storage containers and space in the refrigerator!

Pre prepared foods can be a game changer

While it’s great to do as much as you can from scratch when you’re meal prepping, some pre prepared foods can be a huge help for cutting time spent in the kitchen. Spiralized zucchini or squash noodles can be super healthy and convenient, for example. And frozen fruits and veggies are usually just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts and have the added bonus of being super handy.

Don’t be afraid to use some pre prepared options to save you time, especially where fruits and veggies are concerned. Just be a little warier of the more processed options. Pre prepared sauces can be pretty processed, for example.

Prep veggies early on

When you come back from the grocery store, start prepping your veggies for meals to come. Stash them in the refrigerator or freezer until you need them and they’ll be good to go for cooking stir fries, pasta dishes and anything else that uses veggies. This can save tons of time later in the week, not to mention less stress!

Bulk buy meat when it’s on offer

Buying meat when it’s on offer and stashing it in the freezer for when you need it is super useful for your budget, as well as helping you to get more organized. It also means less time in the grocery store.

Prepping Hacks

Batch cook as much as possible

Planning to have soups or curries as part of your meal plans one week? Cook up a big batch in one go, either in a slow cooker or in a big pot on the stove. From there, it’s super easy to portion it up and freeze it for later in the week.

Grains are another one that can easily be cooked ahead of time too. Prepping and cooking them in one batch means you can repurpose them for lunches and dinners throughout the week, with minimal effort. They just need to be heated up later in the week for hot meals, or they can be left cold for salads.

One pan dinners are your friend

One easy way to spend less time in the kitchen when you’re meal prepping? Cut down on the amount of pans you use! One pan dinners are perfect for this. When you’re pushed for time or just want to have less mess, look for one pan dinner inspiration!

Repurpose your leftovers

If you usually find that you have leftovers after you’ve prepped meals, making good use of them can free up more time. With some creativity and forward planning, you can repurpose leftovers for another day and spend less time on meal prepping. Sounds awesome, right? It’s all about mindset and always asking yourself how you can use leftovers to create another lunch, dinner or snack.

You can also create “planned” leftovers by intentionally cooking more than you need so that you know you’ll have food left to use on future days. You definitely don’t have to use the extra food you cook in the same way (not unless you genuinely intend to have the same meal again for lunch the next day) and there’s plenty of scope for getting creative. Just cook a bit more rice or prep a bit more veg than you actually need and have some ideas in mind for what you’ll do with it.

An easy way to make any leftovers look instantly more appealing? Add a fried or poached egg on top.

Meal Plan and Prep Tips

This week in the FB group, we are looking at Meal Prep and will be discussing the ways to to use it for convenience and to support health and wellness goals (bonus: Meal planning saves MONEY, HONEY!) If you would like to take bite-sized steps, join us here!

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