First Time Meal Prepping

I've wanted to meal prep for a long time. I love the idea of not having to cook everyday and having quick and ready meals. I'm a bit on the cheap side, so instead of buying a meal plan from a meal prep company, I opted to meal prep on my own. I'm not even sure if I'm saving any money as of yet, that's why I'm going to track my spending for a month and compare it to buying a monthly meal plan. 

I had never meal prepped until last night, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it went. I'm not saying it was easy, because it was a lot of work but when you have a plan it helps big time. I planned everything out in writing using a calendar, recipes and grocery list. I figured out how many different meals were needed and which meals I could make last two times. I wanted to keep it simple the first time, so I decided on four different meals that I am familiar with making. I also planned out the next meal prep for Thursday night so that I am ready to start again.

Monday nights are not an ideal night to meal prep for me, as I'm usually tired from the weekend and most definitely not in the mood to cook. Unfortunately for me, I fell asleep late Sunday afternoon and was forced to do this Monday night instead. It was doable but I was also in the kitchen until 11:30 p.m. So my second tip for you, is try starting this on Sunday if you have the time. I will be prepping Sundays and Wednesdays for the remainder of the month, but this week is Monday and Thursday.

After deciding what you are going to eat and how much of each meal, write down the ingredients for that meal. Break it down to see what you already have vs. what you need to buy. This will help you to make a grocery list much more easily. Now it's time to shop. Make sure you are using a lot of fresh and healthy ingredients in your meals. The idea is to shop before you cook each time. The first round of shopping might be more than the next couple, but I will see as I go.

Personally, I don't have a large container collection, so I bought 10 Rubbermaid 'take alongs' in two sizes. You will need the containers for storing and reheating the meals, so make sure they are BPA-free, microwavable and dishwasher-friendly. Make sure they are big enough to hold your meals as well. The two sizes I bought are 3 and 5 cups. The 5 cup size is perfect for salads, soups and chili and the 3 cup size is perfect for all other meals.

After you have your food and your containers, it's time to cook. Organize your cooking so that one thing can be baking while one or two things are cooking on the stove top. Start with the food that takes the longest, the easiest food and then the food you will be eating right away last. As you cook, you will fill your containers. Let the containers cool a bit before putting them in the refrigerator or you might end up with soggy food due to the condensation from steam. 

Now I will share with you what I made, how I planned it out and how I made it.

Monday Prep
Chilli with XL ground beef, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beans, garlic (enough for two meals)
Sole with brown rice and asparagus  (one meal)
Chicken Stirfry with mixed veggies, cashews and rice noodles (enough for two meals)
Beef strips with broccoli, sesame seeds and egg noodles (one meal)
            Monday   Tuesday   Wednesday   Thursday
Lunch     prep       Chili          Chicken        Chilli

Dinner   Chicken   Sole          Beef             prep

Cooked chilli first on stove top, baked sole and asparagus, cooked rice on stove top, cooked beef and broccoli and then chicken stir fry.

Thursday Prep

Salmon with brown rice, green beans and almonds (one meal)
Chicken with sweet potato and carrots (one meal)
XL ground beef, tomatoes, gluten-free pasta enough for two meals)
Beef mandarin salad with sesame seeds (one meal)

            Thursday     Friday      Saturday      Sunday
Lunch       prep         Pasta        Beef             Pasta

Dinner    Salmon     Cheat       Chicken        prep

For breakfast, I am on my own. I usually have oatmeal with fruit and hemp seeds, a protein shake, eggs, gluten-free toast with peanut butter or gluten-free cereal with almond milk. Breakfast doesn't take as long to cook and is usually better fresh anyway. 

So Monday's prep went well and I'm looking forward to spending more time living in the moment and focusing on bettering my health rather than cooking. I will keep you updated at the end of the month as to how my meal prepping went financially, physically and mentally.  



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