Meal Prep & Planning

Do you love food? What am I saying, of course you do! It’s just hard sometimes to want to make food. You’re uninspired, you’re tired, you don’t have anything good in the fridge… But maybe it’s one of your goals to start eating healthier and spending less on food. That’s a great goal to have! Life changing in a huge way!

Meal planning and meal prep are a couple ways to achieve this goal. It will make your life less complicated, make cooking more fun (not a chore), eat things that are more healthy and delicious, waste less, and save time and money.

Meal prep is when you make one large meal and then package it into individual serving sized containers and eat the same meal for days. It’s an efficient way to cook but it has a few drawbacks. You have to eat the same thing for days on end and works best if you’re just cooking for one or two people. 

And since you’re going to be storing things, they have to be freezable or last a long time in the fridge. The foods that work best for meal prep are
 

Cooked grains and pasta

Cooked beans

Cooked meat

Roasted vegetables

Vegetables like celery, carrots, peas, bell peppers, kale, cabbage, radishes, etc.

Whole (not cut) fruit 

Nuts and seeds

Cheese

Sauces and dips (salad dressings, hummus, salsa, sour cream)

Does it sound like meal prep is for you? Check out Budget Bytes for lots of delicious recipes that are perfect for meal prep.

For people with families to feed or dietary restrictions, meal planning is going to make your life a lot easier. You make meals that tumble effortlessly into the next. Roast chicken becomes sandwiches (or a protein for a salad) the next day, then chicken tacos the day after that.

Meal planning means

  1. Making a menu
  2. Making a list of food you need
  3. Buying the food you don’t already have
  4. Preparing the food
  5. Cooking and eating or storing for later

1) Making a Menu

Choose recipes you like and keep it simple. There’s no need to get fancy. stick to the foods you know and love (especially if you have dietary restrictions).

I always start planning my menu by looking for inspiration. I’ll look through cookbooks, pinterest, or instagram (#mealprep) for recipes that look delicious to me. It helps to be hungry? If you have any grocery store apps, check them for what’s on sale and what you earn points for (like at Superstore or Save-On).

2) Making your Shopping List and 3) Buying Food

I find a few main meals that I want to make and write them down. Then I look at those and figure out what other meals I can make that are similar and involve the same ingredients. 

How often do you want to shop? Once a week? Once every two weeks? Once a month? Make your menu for the amount of days between shopping trips, that way you won’t be running to the grocery store every day … or be tempted to just order take-out because you don’t have the right food for your recipes.

Check the ingredients, check your cupboards, and make adjustments to your menu if you need to (you might want to scrap the spring roll recipe if you don’t want a barely-used bottle of fish sauce in your fridge for years…).

When you bring home the groceries, portion out the amount of meat you need for each meal and freeze it so you just have to pull it out when you need it.

4) Preparing the Food

You can set aside a day to prep things that will make cooking meals easier like making a broth, cooking rice, or you can always buy prepared food like chopped or frozen veggies, fresh pasta (that cooks in 2-3 minutes) pie crust, etc.

5) Cooking your Meals

Now that you’ve got your menu and everything you need to make these meals, breakfast, lunch, and supper are as easy as checking your list and picking what you want to make for dinner. It’s a good idea to check the list the day before in case you need to pull something out of the freezer to thaw (you can always use the microwave to defrost if you forget).

Main Meal: Roast Chicken 

Possible variations:

Jerk spice, Italian herbs, BBQ, Southwest (garlic, onion, paprika, cumin), East Indian (curry)

It’s easy to make or just buy a rotisserie chicken from the store. With the leftovers, you can make

Chicken tacos, Chicken pot pie, Chicken and vegetable soup, Chicken fried rice, Chicken sandwiches, Chicken salad

Main Dish: Steak

More recipes with leftover steak (or use the same type of meat)

Stir fry, Steak burritos, Steak salad, Beef stew, Kabobs

What are your go-to meals?

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