Meal prepping has become a popular practice to prepare key elements of a meal or recipe, then portioning those meals out to create grab-and-go options later.
Rochelle Triebs, registered dietitian at Marshfield Clinic Health System, shares eight benefits to meal prepping and how you can get started.
Meal planning is often cheaper than eating out because you can save money at the grocery store when you buy in bulk.
Additionally, if you make too much for the week, you could also freeze some of those meals to have during another night or week.
Quick and easy
During the work week or managing life’s busy moments can make cooking a meal each day seem like a chore.
“Having your meals prepared for the day will mean no more morning hassle or late night pantry raid,” said Triebs.
It will be easier to eat healthy and make healthier choices when you prep beforehand. Triebs said with those meals or snacks available, you will be less likely to reach for unhealthy foods when hungry.
People with celiac disease need to eliminate wheat and gluten. Others may need to substitute dairy out of their diet. Meal prepping can allow you to make food to your specific needs. Along with that, Triebs said if you have nutrient goals, it can be easier to follow recipes that fit your goal, or avoid that allergen or intolerance.
“Once you have an understanding of what your body needs, you can plan ahead to make meals that satisfy your hunger and don’t leave you feeling bloated or ill,” she said.
As mentioned with quick and easy, meal prepping requires no time during your busy week as your healthy meals are ready to go. It can take only a few hours to create all your meals for five days or so.
“Instead of grabbing chips or fast food when you are hungry, your meal will be prepared and you will have time to figure out the portion best for you,” Triebs said. “If one week, you realize you were hungry. You can change it up the next week.”
As Triebs mentioned, you can change your meal prepping as you want.
“You can pick many meals and sides to your taste. Instead of grabbing a pizza or sandwich for example, you may choose to make chicken fajitas with a variety of vegetables.”
Instead of starting the week with good intentions and fresh food in the fridge, make your meals right away, prepped and ready to go.
“You will be more likely to grab those grapes plucked and clean than still on the stem in the back of the fridge,” Triebs said as an example.
How to start meal prepping
To start meal prepping, Triebs encourages you to grab a friend or family member to meal prep together.
“Make it a fun event,” she said. “Pick a meal or two you enjoy and pull out the recipes. Pinterest has lots of examples with blogs sharing tips on freezing and reheating different meals, especially breakfast.”
When choosing your meals, Triebs recommends picking meals with similar food groups or steps. For example, two meals with veggies on the side to roast for the week.
Once you have those recipes, make you shopping list to pick up any items not already at your home.
Finally, cook or bake your meals and portion out. Triebs said you do not need “fancy containers” just use what you have at home unless you need extra motivation to meal prep.
“Fancy containers can make it more exciting though,” she said. “You can always adjust things for what you find works best for you.”
Sausage and Vegetable Skillet
This lite version of tortilla soup uses a variety of canned food and makes a delicious lunch or dinner option.
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
- • 1 Tbsp. cooking oil
• 1 lb. Italian sausage
• 1/2 lb. frozen cauliflower florets
• 1/2 lb. frozen peppers and onions
• 1/4 lb. frozen kale
• ½ tsp seasoning salt or seasoning blend (or to taste)
Add the cooking oil and sausage to a skillet. Cook the sausage over medium heat until brown and crispy.
Add the cauliflower, peppers and onions, and kale to the skillet with the sausage. Continue to stir and cook until the vegetables are heated through.
Add a liberal amount (or to taste) of your favorite seasoning salt or seasoning blend and stir to combine. Serve hot