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 life saver! 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.
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.
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. This way, you know what you’ll be eating. If this interests you then MyFoodSubscriptions has done a detailed review on their site.
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?