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Meal prepping and planning tips and tricks

I’m getting married in April, and my fiancé and I decided we need to clean up our diets before the wedding, especially following the indulgence of the holidays. Meal prepping and planning for the week is so beneficial. It saves money, calories, and, if you plan properly, time. Read on for some tips and tricks I’ve found helpful in minimizing effort and maximizing benefits.

  • Plan ahead and pick the days on which you will grocery shop and cook. Look at the upcoming seven days to determine how many meals you’ll need, as this may change from one week to the next.
  • Choose simple recipes with versatile ingredients and basic proteins, starches, and veggies. By using uncomplicated and versatile ingredients, you can cook large batches of each and then rely on sauces, salsas, and herbs to change up your meals. Pick recipes with foods that will last in the fridge or freezer during the week. You may also wish to utilize ingredients you have on hand rather than recipes for which you need to buy a lot of new ingredients. Sometimes simple is better.
  • Cook recipes you actually like and will want to eat! You should enjoy the food you’ve worked so hard to prepare. For example, I have a crockpot barbecue chicken recipe I could eat every day. I’ll prepare this for lunches and then add in some roasted veggies and a starch, such as seasoned whole grain pasta or brown rice. It’s easy to make and delicious to eat.
  • Make a detailed shopping list of the ingredients and amounts of each you need. I organize my lists by location in the store. Try to maximize expensive ingredients and choose ingredients that can overlap in multiple recipes.
  • Chop all of your fruits and veggies for the week right away, and portion them into bags. Choose snacks that are simple and don’t require a lot of prep. My choices usually include baby carrots and grapes. They’re quick to throw into a bag and are packed with vitamins and minerals!
  • Find cooking shortcuts. I get very bored eating the same flavor chicken all week. I found a trick online to cook meats with three different flavors all on one pan, which saves time and dishes! Use gadgets such as crockpots and grills to save time where you can.

  • Cook in bulk. Cook veggies or proteins that have the same cooking time and/or temperature all at once. Utilize all of those oven racks!
  • Make sure you have the correct size containers—and that you have enough of them! I have several glass containers in which I pack my lunches. Find containers or bags in which you can freeze foods for quick dinner prep.
  • Create a snack zone in the fridge filled with healthy options. You’ll have snacks that help you stay on track with your goals, all within easy reach. Consider low-fat string cheese, yogurts, hard-boiled eggs, hummus, fruit, and veggies.
  • Place your prepared food in the front of the fridge. This may seem simple and unnecessary, but by placing healthy foods and snacks in the front, you’ll be more likely to see them and choose one over an unhealthier choice. Make healthy snacks as accessible as a bag of chips.