Meal Prep Ideas For Beginners To Make Healthy Eating Easier
For the past few weeks, a lot of us have been isolated at home, whether alone or with others. Some might argue that the quarantine has led most of us to sacrifice some of our healthier eating habits. However, even though we are not able to shop for fresh food as often as we used to and not have as many ingredients to play around with as before, we can still find ways to practice healthy eating at home.
In this article, we will talk about some ideas and tips on how to plan healthy homemade meals for the entire week. Meal prepping is a big part of how healthy eaters are able to save time and follow their diet plan, quarantine or not.
Don't worry. We know that you might be thinking of flavorless chicken breasts and endless bland leafy greens when you hear the words healthy eating. But do not give up on this concept just yet. Yes, that is one of the usual ways to follow a healthy diet, but we are here to help you keep your meals at home delicious, flavorful, and very easy to do ahead of time.
Benefits of Meal Prepping
By preparing your meals, you are basically cooking food in larger batches. This could be main courses, snacks, or raw ingredients that you can use to make it easier for you to follow a healthy diet, particularly when you have lots of work and chores to do.
Meal prep means different things for different people. For you, it might mean that you have to prepare a week's worth of lunches and dinners which you can reheat later on. For another person, it can mean slicing and chopping up ingredients such as vegetables ahead of time. For another, it might mean creating a salad dressing or making stock which they can use later in the week.
One big benefit of doing meal preparation is knowing that there is always food waiting for you when you get home, or in the case of quarantine, it's knowing that when you check your fridge, there's food available for you. This is not only helpful for a healthy diet, but it also eliminates excessively resorting to fast food deliveries, drive-thru orders, and dining out.
Meal prep also allows you to mix things up and let you enjoy a variety of meals during the week. Because you have to plan for your meals in advance, you need to brainstorm and plan ahead. This prevents you from relying on fast food, instant meals, and other unhealthier options
Meal Prep Tips and Tricks
The very first thing that you need to think about before you even plan which meals to prepare, is storage. It's very important to know how to keep your food fresh, organized, and easily accessible. Our recommendation is to use airtight containers that are safe for dishwasher and microwave use. By opting for high-quality containers, you are ensuring that you are able to use them for a long period of time, which saves you money in the long term. Get different sizes of containers to store different types of food and ingredients.
The next thing to do would be to choose which day and time you're going to prepare the meals you’ve planned. By choosing a specific day and time during the week, you are subconsciously forming a new habit or routine. Ideally, choose a day where you have fewer things to do and more free time.
Now you have to select which dishes you are going to make. This entails creating a list of the ingredients that you will use. This also allows you to check which recipes are possible to cook and prepare without having to go to a grocery store or supermarket. During this quarantine, it is best to utilize whatever ingredients you already have at home to minimize going outside.
Here are some basic pointers to consider when deciding which dishes to cook:
- Well rounded meals that include protein, vegetables, and whole grains
- You can opt for reduced-fat, sugar, and salt versions of your usual dishes
- The simpler the dish, the better. You don't have to become a top chef right off the bat.
- Go for ingredients that are colorful and have different textures because these will increase the visual appeal of your dishes. In addition, they are likely to contain a variety of micronutrients which are good for your body.
- Pick meals where you can reuse ingredients. For instance, you can have baked chicken for dinner, and serve it another day with a sweet potato or steamed vegetables.
- Slow-cooked or pressure-cooked recipes are also a great option because they can serve large quantities of food and save you a lot of time.
- Do not make the same meal two weeks in a row to avoid getting tired of the same food, even if it’s your favorite.
It's very important to have fun while cooking. One way to do this if you put some music on or play your favorite podcast to have something to listen to in the background. You can also video conference your family or friends to have someone to share the cooking experience with.
Once you have cooked your meal, transfer into airtight containers as they have cooled down and store them in the fridge. Generally, refrigerated meals should last for 3 to 4 days if stored properly.
If you cannot eat all of the prepared food in 3 to 4 days, make sure to store the rest in the freezer where they should remain good for another week or two. This way, if you don't know what to eat or cook at that time, you can simply pop it in the microwave.
Other than frozen meals, we recommend storing berries and vegetables in the freezer. Just make sure to wash, chop, and store them properly. Whenever you get a hankering for them, you can steam them or thaw them in the microwave.
A Final Word
There is no one way to do meal prep. The most important thing is to have fun and follow a system that works and is effective for you. We hope this article has been helpful for you, especially during the quarantine period.
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