Happy Thursday! Today I have a very special article for you as Rachel has offered to guest post and share some of her great meal prep tips for any busy family, college student, or anyone that just hasn’t mastered the perfect prep yet.
Rachel is a contributing writer and media specialist for Orangetheory Fitness. She regularly produces content for a variety of lifestyle and health blogs. In her free time she can be found achieving her personal fitness goals and trying to travel as much as possible.
Virginia Woolf once said “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”, and I am inclined to agree with her. If you’re on a time crunch, have a tight budget, and are trying to eat healthily, this whole eat well thing can be difficult to realistically achieve every day. That’s where meal prep comes in, and boy is it a lifesaver! Meal prep is a relatively straightforward concept, and just involves cooking enough food to last you several meals or days, depending on what you’re looking to achieve. Many people will plan out and make a week’s worth of meals this way. There a lot of benefits to doing this.
If you’re meal prepping because you’re trying to eat healthier, you will feel less incentive to cheat if you already have a healthy meal prepared and waiting for you. This is why some people choose fast food options or junk food that is readily available in the home. I won’t lie, I’m absolutely guilty of stopping at Chick-Fil-A because I just don’t feel like spending an hour cooking. This is where meal prep will also save you money, because you will be less likely to spend money on eating out. And if you’re worried about not getting your credit card reward points for not going to your favorite restaurant, you can still earn rewards from the American Express blue cash card whilst you pick up your groceries! Giving you even more reason to eat healthily! Not only can consuming the right foods positively affect your body’s general health but cutting out sugary junk food will also help your dental health. Make sure you are regularly attending checkups with your dentist and taking on their advice to maintain a healthy smile – something a Dentist Mount Vernon can help you with.
While cooking ahead for a week might seem like you are limiting your options, this is not the case. You can change up a meal by switching out sides, sauces, or spices. There are also many different sources for recipes. Whether it’s Pinterest, Reddit, or even Instagram, there’s plenty of opportunities to try something new. Meal prepping has become a common healthy food trend, so plenty of people are collaborating and sharing their ideas and tricks of the trade. You’ll pick up tons of great ideas thanks to the Internet.
I first started meal prepping when I started taking a summer class along with working in the afternoon. This was my final course to complete my degree, so I had to put a lot of time into studying for it. I also had to be at work very shortly after I had class and I simply didn’t have time to stop somewhere to get lunch. On top of all of this, I was working limited hours because of the class, so money was tight. This was when I decided to put my newly acquired slow cooker to use and try out some recipes. I bought a ton of chicken and started my meal prep journey making shredded taco meat.
As you can imagine, one of my biggest recommendations would have to be to get a slow cooker, because they are absolute life savers when you meal prep. They can be especially helpful if you’re still learning how to cook, because there’s tons of recipes where you simply prep everything and let it do the work. If you’re looking to buy a slow cooker, there are plenty of affordable options out there. Slow cookers run anywhere from $30 to $100. This is what I use, but you can also go with a less expensive option like this, or for an even cheaper portable option, this. I’d recommend looking into investing in a more expensive cooker if you’re going to be using it frequently, because they do last a long time. In a case like this, Sambla has a few financing options for my readers in Norway looking to make the leap.
A good tip is looking into a food box delivery service like Home Chef that can deliver you ingredients for you to cook every day. Another tip that I recommend is setting a day to meal prep. This is a common one, but I can’t stress it enough, especially after having to get up at 2:30 AM because I was worried about my slow cooker chicken catching the house on fire. Why did this happen? I didn’t meal prep on Sunday, my set day. My chicken takes 6 hours to cook, for context. For some reason I still don’t understand I decided to try cooking it over night, but I go to bed pretty early, so the chicken would be done around 2:30AM. I then realized that I would not be getting up until nearly 5 hours later, and I wondered how long I could safely leave the chicken in the slow cooker. This involved me googling it (for the curious they say the max is 4 hours after it’s done cooking), and then having my house fire thought. So don’t be like me, don’t force yourself to get up in the middle of the night to sleepily shred and put away chicken. Stick to your meal prep day.
I’ll leave you with one last tip: do some bulk grocery shopping if you can. It will save you some money if you shop correctly. I use a ton of cheese every week because I’m a cheese fiend, so I usually go to Costco to get mine. Butter is also another common Costco buy because I use it in recipes, as well as eggs. Your roommates might question and may be a little alarmed as to why you’ve brought home an exorbitant amount of cheese, but don’t worry about that. Just worry about what you’re going to garnish with it on your next meal prep fiasco.
Thank you so much to Rachel from Orangetheory Fitness for all her great meal prep tips. I personally use either my grill or slow cooker for chicken to help meal prep every week. I love having my Jamaican Jerk Chicken or Greek Chicken Kabobs for lunches. And Rachel has such a great tip to buy things in bulk. I have always thought about getting a Wholesale club card because of the amount of food we eat in a week, and it’s just the two of us!
I’m also linking up with Amanda today for her Thinking Out Loud series.
Do you use a slow cooker to meal prep?
What’s something you buy in bulk every week?
SaritaSeptember 22, 2016 at 11:10 am (7 years ago)
Yes and yes to the slow cooker and buying in bulk. I’m on a 21 day fix right now and makes total sense to meal prep on the Sunday!
sweetandstrongSeptember 22, 2016 at 4:52 pm (7 years ago)
I love the 21 Day Fix! It taught me a lot about portion control and I got great meal prep ideas. Good luck!
Sarah @ BucketListTummySeptember 22, 2016 at 12:04 pm (7 years ago)
My slow cooker just broke! 🙁 I have to replace it ASAP, because I have so many fall inspired meals I want to just cook during the day while I’m gone. They really are a life saver! I love taking a few hours one day to pre chop all of my veggies and make mason jar salads ahead of time, so they are easy to grab and go throughout the week!
sweetandstrongSeptember 22, 2016 at 4:53 pm (7 years ago)
That’s exactly what I do to Sarah. You def need to get it fixed now that the weather is getting cooler and there are SO many Fall inspired recipes to try! =)
GretchenSeptember 23, 2016 at 5:33 pm (7 years ago)
I meal prep all the time but always look for new tips, so thanks for sharing!! I have to remember to pull out my slow cooker more often 🙂
Laura @ Sprint 2 the TableSeptember 25, 2016 at 3:40 am (7 years ago)
I have to admit – I was skeptical at first. I just tried a meal service and it was awesome though! And Virginia Woolf… I can’t even tell you how much I love her.
Alexis NaterasOctober 3, 2016 at 8:17 pm (7 years ago)
having a set meal prep day is key! love that tip! if I dont have a specific day planned to meal prep i just put it off and a lot of food goes to waste =( #mealprepSunday
sweetandstrongOctober 3, 2016 at 10:17 pm (7 years ago)
I hate wasting food in our house, which is why you will find we eat a lot of random meals. Eggs with veggies and anything thats in the fridge is a common dinner at our house.