Meal prep doesn’t have to be overwhelming or time consuming. In fact, it can be quite fun when you’re organized! You will also feel motivated as you save money when you meal prep ahead of time. Chopping, cooking, and organizing recipes sounds like a lot of work, but it can be quite refreshing to know that you have a freezer full of meals ready to go! Here are three tips that you can use to start preparing your meals ahead of time while decreasing your dinner budget.
Meal Prep Tips
- Get organized before you chop. Make sure that you have all of your ingredients before you prepare. You don’t want to stop in the middle of your meal planning groove to run out and purchase cilantro.
Ensure that you have enough freezer bags and plastic containers for storing sauces or meal items that are not going in the freezer. I also make sure to have mason jars that I infuse water in for the week or to create salads.
Print off any directions that you are using for freezer meals, and use a permanent marker to keep track of what is inside each freezer bag. Include the date and a brief description of how to prepare (for example, 30 minutes at 350 degrees).
When I started meal prepping on lazy Sunday afternoons, I also realized I need a few tools to help the process along. A garlic press, a vegetable peeler, a rice cooker (even though it’s unnecessary, it was totally worth it so I could use the stove for something else!), and extra cutting boards are my go-to essentials.
- Invite your family to help. Kids LOVE being in the kitchen, so make them useful! They might be able to help you stir, organize vegetables for you, or put food into containers. Set up an assembly line that has different options for each member of your family. Dad can chop veggies, mom is on stove duty, and your child can help label bags. You will finish your work in half the time, and your children will learn how important it is to enjoy healthy meals.
- Make extra throughout the week. Can’t prep in one day? Prepare double the amount of servings while cooking during the week. You can freeze the extras or use them for lunches. Just think, you can cook twice a week and prepare enough extras for dinner and lunches for the other days. You can use these items to quickly put together a meal on a busy or late weeknight. Find the rhythm that works for you and your family.
Don’t let meal planning feel overwhelming! Start small and try to map out a few meals to prepare at first. Once you’ve mastered the art or prepping your meals in advance, you can get creative and complete the process more quickly.
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