While cooking can be an unwinding and even therapeutic exercise for some, not everyone has the time, energy, or patience it takes to make a scrumptious home-cooked meal every day. Between the pandemic at hand, work, and the daily stress of life, cooking may seem like a far away dream, relinquished only to those who can afford the mental load of gathering all their ingredients, cooking, and cleaning in one go, every night.
Sounds like a lot? No need to worry, we’ve compiled a few tips to help get your cooking mojo started as we begin to frontload the 2020 holiday season.
Whether you have certain nutritional goals you want to meet, losing weight, or having trouble finding that extra bit of time to settle down every evening to do the things you love, meal prepping can be a great way to save time and still enjoy a healthy meal.
Meal prepping—otherwise known as “meal planning” is when you plan ahead for your weekly meals. Pretty simple right? Wrong! If not done properly, meal prepping can cause you a big headache, especially for the untrained or inexperienced home cook.
We’ve compiled three basic tips to help you get started on your meal-prepping journey and help you save time and money as the holidays approach:
1. Think of your goals
Do you want to lose weight, help fuel your workouts, or simply save time to do other things? Take a moment to write out your objectives for wanting to execute a meal prepping strategy before beginning.
Each meal item will need to be cooked and prepared for individual consumption, so having a variety of quality containers and sizes will almost certainly be required if you want your plan to go smoothly.
You also want to think about finding a time slot within your busy week to carry out your grocery shopping and meal prepping. Each meal might take anywhere from 35-55 minutes to prepare, add that to cleaning up and organizing afterwards, and remember you have two more meals to go before closing up shop.
Be consistent with your weekly strategy. Unless you’re simply doing this to meet a huge deadline at work or to prove to yourself it isn’t worth it, meal prepping takes time to master and a lot of thought should go into every detail. Finding the right time every week to take care of everything is paramount.
2. Learn to enhance your grocery shopping
From now on, you should be aiming at 1 or 2 grocery runs per month. This means that every time you visit your local grocery store or farmers market, you should be able to see each item you select built-in to your next meal prep strategy.
If you want to save a bit of money, swap fresh veggies and fruits for the frozen ones. These last much longer in your freezer and can be sweet additions to your daily snacks and breakfast.
Seek out healthy legumes and whole grains to create a baseline stock of pantry staples. Ingredients like black beans, quinoa, and oats can help you streamline your meal prepping process by allowing you to focus on taste rather than the actual cooking.
My personal saving grace? Instacart!! Instacart is like Uber food shopping. It gives you the chance to shop from the comfort of your won home without going to the store.
3. Meal delivery services
Also known as meal delivery kits, these services help you save time by letting you choose between pre-selected meals—every day or once every few days. It gives you the flexibility to balance your own meal prep with an outsourced service so you can focus more on your personal projects instead.
Meal kits are incredibly diverse and cater to a variety of different palates and taste buds, but also, expertise levels. There are a couple of important things to consider when choosing a meal provider, such as allergies, meal portions and snacks.
Many meal delivery services give you a full list of ingredients used in all their recipes, allowing you to check-off any part of a recipe that you have allergies to. However, given these meals are cooked, packaged, and prepared in a single facility, the risk for cross-contamination might still be there.
They also follow standard nutritional-based guidelines when preparing your meals, meaning portions will not typically be the same as those generous home-cooked meals we often love to indulge in.
The following article is a study of all the major meal kit delivery services in the US. They focused mainly on convenience, shipping and delivery, cost, quality, and variety, so this will be truly helpful for those who have begun thinking about them during quarantine.
Many people are staying home and looking for ways to manage their time more effectively. Being home can be a blessing and a curse. We finally have more time and less travel. But we aren’t all managing our time to staying motivated while home all day. Try to implement these helpful tips to save you time and keep motivated through the holiday season!