I am in the middle of a personal challenge to reduce the amount of times I get takeout or delivery and really commit to cutting my food spending. Today is Day 22 of no takeout (not even once) and a redesign of how I approach meals throughout the week. I’m proud to say I haven’t caved once on the takeout/delivery. I have, however, purchased a couple chocolate bars and some potato chips at the grocery store. I guess I didn’t put a personal ban on junk food yet, so I’m still in the clear.
Obviously I’m doing a lot more food prep and home cooking now that I don’t grab Chipotle two nights per week on my walk home. I felt really comfortable in the kitchen before this personal challenge, but now I’m acutely aware of my food prep behaviors. Some of my techniques actually make my life a lot easier, so I thought I’d spread the wealth. Here are my top tips for meal prep:
If you’re gonna store it, why not throw it in a mason jar? I have a thing for jars. I think they’re the best way to store chopped veggies, homemade soup, or any other leftovers. I love to line my fridge with all the fresh food I’ve cut up so everything is in-my-face visible. I’ve even found that I’m more likely to use ingredients when they’re chopped up and ready to go or perfectly portioned to reheat.
- Entertain yourself. I’m a huge fan of TV and movies, but I’m not one of those people who can sit for multiple episodes in a row without feeling like a bum. Food prep has helped with that… a lot! My favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon or a weekday after work is to watch my favorite TV shows (Great British Baking Show, Parks n Rec, Friends, The Office, Veep… I could go on for days), stand-up comedians, or a movie and food prep at the same time. It’s a lot more fun to chop veggies when Julia Louis-Dreyfus is cracking you up.
- Sharpen those knives. This is super basic, but it’s important to take some time to sharpen your knives at least once every two weeks. When my knives aren’t sharpened, I turn into the crazy “before” video clip from annoying infomercials trying to sell a fancy new type of knife. I go to cut a tomato and end up smashing it into the cutting board. Avoid infomercial levels of frustration, people. Sharpen your knives.
- Multi-task. I can never do one thing at a time… or even two things at a time. So while I’m snacking, watching Parks n Rec, and chopping veggies, I also prep my hot meals for the week. Most of the time, this means I chop the veggies and throw them directly into a crockpot.
- Snack away! Some nights my meal prep turns into a full meal. Instead of getting annoyed that I snacked so much, I just anticipate the snacking and set myself up for a healthy, somewhat controlled meal. I keep a bowl next to my meal prep area that I fill with random chopped veggies or taste tests of whatever I’m cooking.
- Make a list of all possible combinations of the ingredients you’ve pre-chopped. This is something I only started doing recently, but I’m really benefiting from it. No longer do I walk into my kitchen and think “there’s nothing to eat!” I walk around my kitchen after a grocery haul and jot down every possibility for snacks and meals. Then, when I get home after a long day, I can select what I want to eat from my little “menu.” If you’ve never tried this, I promise it’s worth a shot!
What are your go-to meal prep tips? Share in the comments section below!