I've been obsessed with watching meal prepping Youtube videos - they're so inspiring and give me lots of ideas for my own meals throughout the week. But a big thing for me is that they inspire me to actually do my own prep. After trying this for the past month or so, I've found I spend a lot less on takeout each week, I'm less stressed at mealtimes, and I'm eating way healthier than I was before. It takes a little getting used to, but it has totally changed my cooking process.
Advantages of meal planning & prep
- You save money (on impulse buys and fast food)
- You save time (by preparing in bulk)
- You stress less (because you don't make any decisions as mealtime comes)
- You get healthier (through cooking from scratch or semi-scratch, and not eating fast food)
- You enjoy cooking more (because you're not stressing)
How we plan out our food for the week
List out what you want to eat that week
First what I'll do is make a big list of what I usually like to eat. This can be your own recipes, recipes from magazines, recipes online, or just snack ideas. I separate them out into breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, and drinks and try to match them up so I can use similar ingredients for the whole week.
For example, if I want tacos, I can make rice, beans, and veggies - then another day I can use them in a stew or in a scramble. Or if I want fresh berries in my breakfast, I'll buy enough so I can make pie too.
I don't really make a strict schedule, but I do make it so I know what I need to buy and prep. Then as each day comes, I can just pull out my prepared ingredients and make something quickly - no more "what do you want to do for dinner tonight" analysis paralysis.
Make a shopping list
Then make an ingredients shopping list. I usually make up my own recipes, so I'll just think of what ingredients might work for each dish and write it down. Make sure to mix in whole ingredients and quick snacks. As you can see from our list, some things I make from scratch, and some things I'll buy; it just depends on my mood and schedule that week. Last week I made hummus when I had leftover chickpeas I cooked, this week I'm buying it for quick sandwiches during work lunches.
Prep your ingredients
Depending on what you bought and what you'll be making, your prep time can vary, but it shouldn't take more than a couple of hours. At the very least, doing things in bulk always takes less time and energy, and it makes your weeknight efforts easy. Here's what we did this week:
- Scrub & wash any vegetables and fruit.
- Chop veggies for quick snacking and/or sandwiches.
- Cook chickpeas (for burgers) and some rice. Par-boil potatoes. (For roasting later.)
- Make pesto. (For pasta & sandwiches.)
- Make marinara sauce. (For pasta and pizza on the weekend.)
- Mix together & create burgers.
- Make tofu egg salad.
- Make chocolate bars. (For dessert all week.)
After just one afternoon of cooking, I have all the elements I'll need this week to eat healthy meals that I really enjoy. I call this a win-win situation and it's really helped me a lot. Interested in trying this for yourself? Grab a meal planner for yourself right here, and let us know how it goes by tagging us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter :)
Happy meal prepping!