How does it make you feel to see pictures on social media of tables artfully filled with organized rows of portioned out food containers meant to make your life easier and healthier for the week? To all of you that can take a few hours out of your Sunday to meal plan and prep and cook for entire week ahead: bless your organized heart. That just isn’t me and probably never will be.
I will painfully admit that I’m not the most organized person in the world. Sure I’ll make lists, but then I lose the lists or I just don’t look at the lists. Or, I type a list on my phone and then write a similar one on paper and….you get the idea. Organization is not my strong suit. Don’t you have to be a super organized person to meal prep ? I say the answer is not necessarily. I can meal prep in my own way that works with my life.
Let’s think about what exactly meal planning/prepping is for a second. It’s basically just figuring out meal preparation strategies to save yourself time, and hopefully help you to eat healthy. That doesn’t necessarily mean spending your entire Sunday in the kitchen!
6 meal prepping tips for unorganized folks!
1 ~ Take inventory of what you already have on hand
Before you even think about looking at a recipe, see what you already have. You may discover that you have more ingredients than you thought! Let the ingredients you already have on hand dictate what you make. Have some ground turkey on hand? Make some turkey meatballs! Have a stash of eggs and veggies? Make a fritatta. You get the idea.
2 ~ Brainstorm meal ideas with versatile ingredients
Work around versatile ingredients that you can work a whole meal around. Let’s take chicken as an example. What can you make with a chicken breast?
- Sandwiches & Pitas
- Chili & Soup
- Stir Fry
3 ~ Keep the kitchen stocked with key flavor ingredients
By keeping your pantry stocked with variety of flavoring agents that make it super easy to make a tasty meal, you’ll be less likely to go out to eat and spend $$$ ! Canned tomatoes, dried herbs, spices, garlic powder, vinegars, olive oil, mustard, salsa, hot sauce, tahini, maple syrup and full flavored cheeses like parmesan or romano are some of my favorites.
4 ~ Cook multiple servings of grains, potatoes, beans and veggies
If you happen to be cooking rice one night, instead of just making enough for that day, make enough for multiple days. Do you even know how nice it is to open the fridge and have rice that is already prepared?? It’s wonderful. Do this with beans, potatoes and veggies too! If you’re roasting carrots and potatoes one night, roast some extra. Microwave a few extra sweet potatoes. It doesn’t really take any extra time and makes your life easier during the week. ***Don’t forget to properly cool your food before storing in the fridge so you don’t give yourself foodborne illness! Check out this link to keep you and your family safe. `
5 ~ Use your freezer
A sigh of relief often comes from my mouth when I remember that I made a double batch of something the previous week and froze a portion of it. Except for the heating up part, dinner is easy peasy! Soups, stews and casserole type dishes like chili and lasagna freeze best. The freezer isn’t just for main dishes! Be sure to freeze your next batch of energy bites for an easy snack. What about those extra grains and beans that you cooked? Freeze ’em! Just don’t forget to properly cool everything before freezing. (See link in tip#4) Find some meat on sale at the supermarket? Buy extra and keep in the freezer.
6 ~ Keel multipurpose sauces on hand
You can basically have the same meal multiple times, but it tastes totally different because of the sauce. I like keeping a variety of store bought sauces on hand such as marinara, pesto, salsa, and asian inspired teriyaki-ish type sauces (Look for ones with minimal sugar). For example, I’m a huge fan of dinners where I just saute a bunch of ingredients and slide the mound onto the plate. It’s basically like a stir fry, but not necessarily Asian. I can saute the same veggies and protein and mix with a different sauce for a completely different taste!
Do you have any handy meal planning tips? Leave them in the comments! 🙂