Many people love the idea of meal prep but struggle to make it a regular part of their lives. I’ve heard of many different obstacles to preparing meals for the week:
“I don’t have time.”
“My kids are picky eaters.”
“I’m not a good cook.”
“I get bored with eating the same thing every day.”
“I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
It’s understandable why these challenges can make meal prep intimidating. Fortunately, all of them can be overcome. The key is to work smarter, not harder.
WITH THE RIGHT STRATEGY, MEAL PREP CAN SEAMLESSLY FIT INTO YOUR LIFESTYLE — AND EVEN BECOME SOMETHING YOU LOOK FORWARD TO.
When I first started meal prepping, I was often frustrated.
For me, it started in grad school. I was dealing with a chronic illness and keeping a healthy diet was fundamental in feeling well.
I sourced out recipes just to fail again and again until I created a system that worked for me. Dinner Plan Weekly (https://dinnerplanweekly.com/) is where I share my system on cooking and storing food that keeps fresh and appetizing.
Its easy to follow and will save you time and money.
UNDERSTAND YOUR “WHY”
The foundation of sticking with any habit is understanding why you want to develop it. Meal prep doesn’t have to be time-consuming at all, but it will require a portion of your time, which means that it has to be more relevant to you than whatever else you could be doing with that time. Otherwise, it’s going to be really difficult to incorporate it into your life every week.
There are so many reasons why meal prep might be important to you. For me, the most significant benefit I get from meal prep is the feeling of self care and that includes my family’s care.
By having my food prepared, I have saved so much time not battling with decision fatigue. This allows me to focus on what really matters to me: spending quality time with my loved ones, practicing self-care, and working towards my personal and professional goals.
Meal prep might be important to you because it helps you save money, eat in a way that makes you feel good, or spend your time the way you want to rather than cooking every night. Whatever your motivation is, get clear on it before you start prepping to give you the momentum you need to begin making it a habit.
When you feel like giving up, your “why” reminds you to try again.
One of my biggest mistakes as a beginner meal prepper was trying to make all my meals for the week at the same time. This rigid approach was time-consuming and overwhelming. It gave me quite a bit of shame around food waste when I would inevitably toss some of my meals.
You don’t have to make a full week’s worth of meals at one time. In fact, we recommend that you don’t!
There are many advantages to doing one big prep on the weekend and one smaller prep halfway through the week instead. This strategy allows you to honor your cravings, eat a greater variety of meals, and adapt to your schedule’s last-minute changes.
You don’t even need to make more than one meal to get the benefits of meal prep.
If you’re hesitating to dive into a full meal prep routine, start with just one recipe. For example, overnight oats are an approachable and simple breakfast that takes minutes to prepare. Simply customize our master recipe with your favorite fruit and toppings, and your breakfast is taken care of for three days!
NOT EVERY MEAL IS RIGHT FOR PREP
One of the mistakes I would make when I did my own meal planning was choosing recipes that might be good that day, but really did not taste great as leftovers. I consumed (and threw away) many soggy salads as a result.
A good recipe for meal prep is one in which the flavor and texture are not affected by chilling in the fridge for a couple of days. In fact, some meals are actually enhanced over time.
For example, I have found that I enjoy the vegan lasagna the next day more than right after I make it.
PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION
When I first started prepping, I made many meals that ranged from not very good to straight-up gross. Joining a meal-prep program can reduce your disappointments in the kitchen. Many people are “scared” of the kitchen because they’ve experienced disappointments. Taking small step every week
May not seem big but gradually you will look back and see a big improvement
PLANNING IS ESSENTIAL
It’s been a long time since I went grocery shopping without a plan. However, I got a taste of it when the pandemic first hit and stores were chaotic.
With so many items out of stock, I had to think on my feet. In my panic, I brought home a lot of ingredients I had no idea what to do with. That’s how I ended up with a random collection of frozen foods that I’m still figuring out how to use.
Not planning before you prep not only creates food waste, it’s also why some people are under the impression that meal prep is time-consuming. When you don’t plan ahead, the time you spend making decisions on the fly really adds up.
You don’t have to waste your weekend improvising meal prep. With the right strategy, you can even prep in only an hour. There are so many ways to save time, food, and money by planning ahead. Using a plan optimizes your time so you can maximize results by having recipes cross over.
Since mastering meal prep, I feel significantly less anxious about cooking, food, and planning my week in general. What helped me most was joining Dinner Plan Weekly. It’s affordable, flexible, and takes the stress out of meal planning every week.