Everyone loves delicious, decadent restaurant meals, but one of the most effective ways to improve your health through nutrition, is to prepare the majority of your food at home. Swapping home cooked meals for takeout can also save tons of money but making time in our busy schedules to cook can often feel overwhelming and intimidating.
The solution? Meal prep!
Follow these four strategies to successfully begin to meal prep your way to saving your waistline and your wallet.
1. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Healthy and delicious does not need to mean gourmet and complex. Instead, choose basic, versatile foods that can be included in all different types of meals and flavor profiles. Sautéed zucchini can accompany a salmon entrée for dinner, can mix into a veggie omelet for breakfast and add great flavor and variety topping a lunch salad.
When meal prepping, opt for simplicity over novelty. Keep your meals basic with a protein, veggie(s) and starch.
Start by choosing 2-3 protein foods, 3-4 veggies and 1-2 starches to batch cook. Depending on how many days’ worth of meals you are prepping, make sure to make enough quantity to last you over multiple meals!
You can combine your meal combinations of protein(s), veggie(s) and starch(es) ahead of time or store each food individually to be combined later depending on what you are craving for a particular mealtime.
Add additional flavor variety mixing in different sauces, dressings, salsas, herbs and spices. Nothing screams zest like spicing up ground turkey with Kevin's Natural Foods taco seasoning or drizzling Kevin’s Cilantro Lime sauce over grilled tri tip.
2. PLAN AHEAD
Before embarking on the possibly daunting MEAL PREP GROCERY SHOPPING TRIP, first come up with a plan and shopping list.
Sit down with a pencil and paper and scratch out a basic outline of the foods you could see yourself and family eating in the upcoming days or week. Figure out how many times you will want to repeat including each batch-cooked staple food vs how much new food novelty you desire.
Use this general outline to craft a grocery list and cross reference to see what items you may already have in the house. At the store, stick to your list and don't forget to always grocery shop AFTER eating. A full belly fends off tempting treats much more efficiently than a hungry one.
3. UTILIZE HEALTHY SHORTCUTS
Add even more variety and save yourself time by incorporating high quality, healthy precooked food items. Kevin’s Natural Foods sous vide chicken entrees come pre- cooked to restaurant-quality perfection and require only 5 minutes to prepare from fridge to fork.
And just because pre prepped foods require little to no cooking, it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on FLAVOR! Kevin’s Natural Foods’ dynamic new Cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese can go toe to toe with even the most gourmet cheese-laden pasta dishes.
4. BATCH PREP, BATCH COOK, BATCH CLEAN
Lets be real. The prep, cooking and dreaded cleanup that come along with undertaking home cooked meals can feel intimidating to the point you reach for your phone to overpay for doorstep delivered dinner.
Instead of having to prep, cooked and clean for every dish and every meal, EVERY day, designate one or two days a week to tackle all food prep. Maximize your efficiency even further by finishing all prep before cooking and finish by cleaning everything at once.
Tackle ALL the cutting, washing, dicing, marinating and portioning of your meal prep foods together before starting to cook.
Once EVERYTHING is prepped, try to cook as many foods simultaneously as you can, SAFELY. Fire up the oven, stove, grill and microwave at the same time to save yourself tons of time. But don’t forget to set timers to prevent overcooking or burning.
After washing all of your cookware, finish off your meal prep session by portioning out and storing your bounty. Then pat yourself on the back for investing time and effort in your health and budget.
Happy meal prepping!