6 Ways to Get into the Swing of Meal Prepping

6 Ways to Get into the Swing of Meal Prepping

If you’re like me, you’ve got a very busy life. You’d love to linger over your food and put loving attention into every meal… but most days, you’re lucky if you remember what you had for lunch or whether you actually sat down to eat your dinner.

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6 Ways to Get into the Swing of Meal Prepping

Being unintentional with your meals is a problem for a whole lot of reasons, and the most obvious of these is that your meals have such a huge impact on your health. When you have to rush through your meals, you will probably eat more than you mean to. And if you don’t have a real plan in place for your mealtime, you’re more likely to eat junk food.

Meal prepping helps you avoid all of these pitfalls. At first glance, meal prepping might seem like an intense affair that you have to dive head-first into.

Luckily, that’s not the case! If you follow these six simple steps, you’ll find yourself settling into a meal prep routine that puts delicious, nutritious meals in front of you without fail.

1. Schedule a Day
Habits can be hard to set, and meal prepping is just another habit. Getting into the swing of things, however, is easier when you commit to a hard date.

Instead of saying, “I’ll start next month,” or “I’ll do it when I have a minute,” look at your calendar right now. Pick a specific day of the week that is a little less busy than the others. That will be the day you cook all of your meals.

Now, pick a day about a week before your cooking day. This will be the day you set up your meal and grocery lists.

That gives you a week to get all of the ingredients together. And, believe me, you don’t want to try to do all of the shopping and cooking on the same day!

Best of all, this schedule gives you a week to do the next two steps on this list. A week is just enough time to get everything ready without losing sight of your goal… And that’s what setting habits are all about.

2. Get Proper Containers
A lot of people suggest that getting new equipment is a good way to motivate your new habits. When you’re talking about meal prepping, storage containers are going to be your biggest asset. So it makes sense that before you cook, you want to make sure you have the proper containers ready.

You should choose BPA-free containers for a variety of reasons. Your containers also need to fit in whatever bag you intend to carry them in (while being leak-free).

And if you plan on making meals more than one day in advance, you need to make sure that you can fit all of the containers you’ll use into whatever space you’re storing your food in, like your refrigerator or freezer.

Getting the right containers can be a great motivator. Once you have them, though, you need to make sure you have the space for them. That brings us to the next tip.

3. Clean Out Your Freezer Early
I say “freezer,” but really, the goal in this phase is to clean out whatever space you’re using to store your prepped meals. While this will make it easier to clean up after you’re done the cooking, it does something even more important… It gets you thinking about your meal prep as a real thing.

It’s going to take up space that you’re already preparing. That means, technically, you’re already in the swing of things!

Taking these small steps might seem a little too simple, but you’re doing more than getting small preparations in place. You’re taking the pressure off of the day when you’re going to cook all the meals. And take it from me, that makes the whole process much easier to slip into.

4. Start Small
It might be tempting to dive into a “month of meals” sort of deal. But if you’re just starting with meal planning, that’s a good way to burn yourself out.

Instead of going all-in, you might want to try prepping your meals one day or one week ahead.

Prepping only one day ahead is still prepping. You will have to make enough food for dinner and lunch the next day. Then you have to set aside your “saved” portion before dinner is served, so you know it’s there when you need it.

Of course, this might not be enough prep for you. If you need to plan an entire day of meals in advance, you will have to work something out for dinner the next day, too. And, if you’re not one for easy breakfast smoothies, you’ll also need something to eat in the morning.

In these cases, you’re going to want to move on to the next step and plan multiple meals, preferably with the help of a handy workbook.

5. Select Your Meals
The last thing you have to do before you can actually prepare your meals is pick them out. And while this might sound easy, keep in mind that you have to cook them all at once.

So, while it might be tempting to have a unique recipe every day, you might want to consider making versatile core foods and then dressing them up a bit differently for each meal.

A good base item, for example, is baked chicken breast. While it cooks, you can prepare side dishes and sauces.

Then, all you have to do is cut the chicken and pack up a week of fairly unique meals with minimal cooking. You can also do this with cuts of pork or beef, or with tempeh, if you are not a meat-eater.

An easy meal prepping work book is a great way to keep track of the meals you want to make. Depending on the workbook you pick, it can also help you set up grocery lists, wrangle recipes, and so much more. It just takes a little poking around to find one that will fit your needs!

6. Be Patient
Habits take time to form. There is a good chance that you’re going to forget one of your pre-made meals at least once, or lapse on a week of prep here or there.

It happens to everyone. The trick is to be patient with yourself.

Don’t give yourself a pass to give up on meal prep, of course. Just remember not to get too down on yourself for missteps along the way. Eventually, it’ll all be second nature!

The Takeaway
Most meal prepping sites seem to be designed for people that already know exactly what they’re doing. That can make it hard to get yourself into the swing of things.

But don’t give up! Keep your goals in mind and your workbook close, and don’t forget to be patient while you set up this habit.

Pretty soon, you’ll be whipping up meals weeks in advance and happily skipping the convenience food in favor of the delicious nutrition, you already have on-hand.

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