Are you a meal-planning, meal prepping kind of person or a fly-by-the-seat kind of person when it comes to food? I’ve had seasons of being both, but definitely feel like I’ve got my stuff more together when I’ve got a good meal prep in the fridge. There’s just something about being able to pull out a pre-prepped meal, perform a few basic steps and have dinner on the table. No more need to grab a takeaway just because I’m too busy to cook a healthy meal! So, what is meal prep, how do you do a meal prep, and what else do you need to know to get started? Read on for answers to all these questions and more info about how to meal prep!
What is Meal Prepping?
Meal prepping is preparing whole meals or parts of meals ahead of time and storing in the fridge or freezer until later. This way of meal planning is particularly popular among busy people who don’t have time to spend an hour or more preparing dinner each evening but still want to eat nutritious, home-cooked food. Some people prep just dinners for the family, others prep all three meals, and of course, everything in between! The best thing about meal prepping is that it is flexible and you can make it what you want it to be!
One of the biggest benefits of meal prepping is that it usually leads to healthier food choices as you are planning ahead rather than choosing what sounds good in the moment. It can also be a budget-friendly option since you will typically waste less food and may end up eating out less.
How to do Meal Prep?
There are many different ways to approach meal prepping - not all of which require you to be able to set aside several hours at the weekend. Although, weekend batch cooking is a popular way to do it. Some people may make freezer-friendly meals such as beef stew made with our 100% grass-fed beef, in one big go and use them over the next few months. Alternatively, you can prep some of the more time-consuming components of your weekday dinners on the weekend, and put the finishing touches on each weeknight. Others portion out individual meals to warm up and enjoy throughout the week so that everything is basically done in advance.
One of the easiest ways to make meal prepping more efficient is to prep ingredients that work across multiple meals. For instance, you might roast a whole chicken, remove the meat from the bone and use it in several meals like chicken salad and chicken noodle soup.
How Long Can a Meal Prep Last?
This may all have you wondering, how long can a meal prep last? The answer is that it depends largely on whether you are prepping meals for the fridge or freezer. If you are making meals to store in the fridge, then a week is about the max amount of time you can prep anything ahead. Typically 3-5 days is best. I usually prep Monday-Thursday and treat myself to lunch out on Friday. However, if you are prepping meals to freeze, you can use the foods for several months.
The quality and flavour usually starts to go after about 3 months, so it’s recommended to eat even your frozen meal preps within that time frame.
How to Store Meal Prep Food?
How will you store all of these lovely prepped meals? Whether you buy pretty new containers to store everything in or plan to use something you already have around the house, following a few tips will help your food stay delicious and safe to eat. After cooking your meal prep, you should remove the food from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature for no more than 2 hours. After that time, you should put it in the fridge or freezer to minimize bacterial growth. If you choose to freeze, you should pack your food in an airtight container that has as little empty space as possible to minimize freezer burn. Freezer burnt food is still safe to eat, but isn’t very enjoyable. By the way, you should be setting your fridge at 4 degrees Celsius and your freezer at -18 for food safety reasons!
So, What’s the Verdict?
Meal prepping is great for busy people who want to still enjoy health-promoting food and love to cook. It’s very flexible and can be adapted to fit in your lifestyle. And, it’s a great feeling knowing that you have a fridge or freezer stocked full of ready-to-eat foods! So, what’s the verdict? Will you try meal prepping?