6 Essential Meal Prep Tips

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:

  1. food prep
    my fridge doesn’t always look like this, but when it does I snap a photo

    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.

  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. ingredient combination on notebookMake 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!

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