Recipe of the Week – Meal Prepping Tips
A few months ago, I attempted to prep my meals for the entire week and I would say it was…half successful. Since then, I’ve tried different methods of meal and food prep and wanted to share what I’ve learned and what works for me! Leave a comment below and let me know your favorite food or meal prepping trick!
Eat what’s in season
I discovered this awesome guide that has you enter your state, what month it is, and a specific piece of produce you are interested in to tell you if it’s in season. It also gives you recipes and interesting facts about each food item. I’ve learned that if you are buying a kind of sad cucumber at the grocery store, it will quickly be super sad cucumber as soon as you get it home. If you buy something that’s fresh and in season, it will last longer and you will be able to stretch your produce into the whole week versus having to eat everything on Monday and Tuesday. *Bonus tip – make jarred tomato sauce and freeze berries for smoothies in the summer when tomatoes and berries are in season. Then you can enjoy them even in the winter!
Eat sturdy foods
I’m sure you guys are thinking, what? But here’s what I mean. If you are prepping salads for the week, think about using kale instead of spinach or romaine. Making frozen breakfast burritos? Use peppers or mushrooms instead of tomatoes or zucchini. I’ve learned that if I cook food that holds their texture and taste and doesn’t get soggy, I’m more likely to eat them later in the week and the won’t go to waste. Plus, it turns out that food that gets soggy first are also the fastest to cook! If you have 90% of your meal prepped, it’s not hard to do the last 10% when you get home from work. *Bonus tip – Keep sauces and dressings in a mason jar. They will last for a couple weeks and fresh sauce will make your meal seem just cooked!
Keep a well stocked freezer
Sometimes, there are weeks that get away from me and all of the sudden it’s Thursday and I have yet to visit a grocery store other than the Whole Foods hot bar. The Jude is queen of a well stocked freezer (seriously, in college I used to do my grocery shopping in there. I mean, actually….I still do that now) and even though I have a pretty small freezer, I try to keep 3-5 meals in there that can be made last minute. My favorite freezer meals are soup, stuffed peppers, and breakfast burritos. *Bonus tip – forget to take your meal out of the freezer in the morning? Put it in a ziplock bag and submerge it in warm water. It will defrost without drying out!
I think people eye roll the most at planning ahead and writing things down but I ALWAYS notice a difference when I do. I used to grocery shop at random and end up staring into the refrigerator void, wishing for a meal to appear. When I first started writing down what I was planning on cooking, I started with just one dinner each week – one meal I could cook and eat for a couple nights and have slowly progressed into dinners for every night, a few lunches for my long days and grab and go breakfasts. Planning ahead also helps tremendously when you grocery shop! No random items or junk food in your cupboards. *Bonus tip – organize your grocery list but produce, protein, cans, etc. You will be in and out of the store in a flash!
Food Storage is Key
I know, I know. I preach from my soap box constantly about food storage. But, seriously – I used to waste a ton of food, and using glass storage has not only saved my food, but my bank account as well! The heavy glass and airtight lid help create a seal that keeps your food fresh for longer and also, you can bring literally anything for lunch and it won’t spill or leak in your bag! My favorite set that I’ve found is from Coscto, but this is a great set from Amazon and Bed Bath and Beyond sells individual containers/lids if you only want a couple pieces. *Bonus – find glass containers that can also go in the oven! You can bake your dinner and move it straight to the refrigerator once it’s cool!