Top 10 Meal Prep Tips

Hello everyone! Today’s post is all about meal prepping. Keep reading to see my top tips.

When I was in college I did huge batch cooking/prepping sessions when I was home to visit my parents. I would choose 3-4 meals to make and then prep 10-12 batches of each. Most of the meals were crockpot meals and uncooked, while others I cooked before packaging. This worked really well for my college days because even though I liked cooking, I had ZERO time to cook. Having the 3-4 meals to choose from helped with variety and I did not get too bored with the food.

Fast forward to graduate school. I fell out of the meal prepping habit because neither Steven nor I wanted to eat the same thing several days in a row. Since I still did not have much time for cooking, the meals were pretty straight forward: baked chicken thighs with two vegetables. This allowed for a bit more variety because the veggies could be exchanged with other easily and the chicken could be wrapped in bacon or have different spices. Honestly this is still one of our favorite meals to have! It smells delicious and is so easy to make on a busy night.

When I was student teaching in Spring 2019 I tried the batch cooking session like I did in college. Well…. to say that I was exhausted after spending 8 hours in the kitchen 2 days in a row and got nothing else done would be an understatement! While we did have meals for a month, we very quickly got bored of what we had to eat. So this clearly was not the answer to cooking on our busy schedule.

Back to the drawing board! It took me a while to come up with my current system. Now full disclaimer: Steven is making his own meals now because he is following his own eating plan. Most of the food I make is just for me, but he will have some of my food occasionally! This system I am using now works really well for my busy weeks because the prep work is done on the weekends (more on this in a few moments). This system has been invaluable following AIP while being a full-time teacher during a pandemic.

Without further ado, on to my top 10 meal prep tips (in no particular order)!

  1. Prep all veggies for the week at once!
  2. Use appliances that will make your life easier
  3. Grocery shop on Saturday
  4. Meal prep on Sunday
  5. Use glass storage containers
  6. Make spice/herb blends
  7. If possible, do not make everything from scratch
  8. Chop your own veggies
  9. Buy in bulk
  10. Wear comfy shoes

Now that you see all my tips, I’m going to break each one down so you can have more information and tips.

  1. Prep all veggies for the week at once

For this one, I find that I save SO MUCH TIME when I prep all veggies at once (specifically on Sunday). One way to make veggies is taking time every night to pull out the veggies (let’s use zucchini for example), using the knife to chop off the ends, pull out the food processor, use the food processor, get out a baking tray, oil the veggies, use seasonings, roast for 25 minutes, and finally eat them. Sounds fun right? Maybe you said yes, but it is also vey time consuming! Because not only has this list taken a long time, but now you need to clean all of those dishes every night!

If you prep all veggies on Sunday, you only have to clean the food processor, knife, and cutting board once, and you can skip right to the roasting on a pan step! It normally takes me 30-45 minutes on a Sunday to prep all my veggies for the week, as opposed to 30 minutes every night if I did not prep them.

2. Use appliances that will make your life easier

This one is probably the most monetarily expensive step, but will be life changing. 2 appliances that make meal prep 10,000,000x easier are the Instant Pot and a food processor. The Instant Pot is an electronic pressure cooker that can decrease cooking times dramatically. While this isn’t necessarily something I use for meal prep, it is indispensable for cooking during the week. It will save you time with cooking and will help decrease clean up because you can do it all in the one pot! I have two Instant Pots: the 8 quart Viva and the 6 quart Lux. I love them both and they are used almost every day!

Now for the food processor. I use the Cuisinart 11 Cup Prep-Plus (review coming soon!). When my parents gifted this to me for Christmas, my life was forever changed. No joke. My meal prep time went from 2 hours down to 30-45 minutes, veggies are all evenly sliced so they cook easier, it is quiet, and is easy to clean. Win-win-win! I typically use the slicing blade attachment for veggies, which creates nice even slices. The traditional chopping blade is also helpful for grinding meat and making sauces/dressings.

3. Grocery shop on Saturday

This was a gamechanger. Although it isn’t necessarily the most fun to get up early on Saturday, but it pays off because there are virtually no lines at the grocery store. Also, accomplishing this first thing in the morning sets you up for a productive day.

4. Meal prep on Sunday

Like I mentioned in tip #1, completing the meal prep on Sunday is so helpful to start the week off right. I typically complete my meal prep earlier in the day, right after church, so that I feel productive and on top of things. I also like splitting up the grocery shopping and meal prepping so that it isn’t quite as tiring as doing it all in one day would be.

5. Use glass meal prep containers

I have been trying to reduce my use of plastics so that my environmental toxin exposure is reduced (all part of the Paleo Approach!). I purchased an Anchor Hocking 30 piece set of containers and I am in love! The containers are all different shapes and sizes and are great quality. I have been using 3 cup rectangular containers for my daily lunches and the other sizes for leftovers from dinner. Yes, I am well aware that the photos above have my food in plastic bags…. I don’t have big enough glass containers (yet!) to hold my food prepped veggies.

6. Make spice/herb blends

Do you find yourself continually using the same combo of herbs and spices on a daily basis? I know I do! Rather than opening each container individually and shaking each one separately on the food, why not combine it all together in a spice jar? That way it is already in the perfect proportion and you don’t have to take extra time finding the spices that are hidden in the back of the cupboard!

7. If possible, do not make everything from scratch

When you are on AIP or Paleo, you are basically signing yourself up for cooking. A. Whole. Bunch. Cooking protein, vegetables, cutting fruit, washing dishes, repeat. It can get exhausting! Personally, I have made almost 100% of my food from scratch since August 2020. However, when I was able to reintroduce eggs, I knew something I wanted to buy pre-made. Primal Kitchen Mayonnaise. This one convenience item has been well worth it. There are many AIP pre-made items out there (look at shopAIP.com) but to save money I have made everything myself. But if you are someone who wants to have some convenience items and want to take off a bit of the burden of cooking, this online AIP grocery store is a great resource! Another great resource is Thrive Market. Thrive does require a membership, but it is well worth it if you do not have a health food store nearby.

8. Chop your own veggies

This tip is to help you save money. There are many vegetables that you can buy pre-chopped. While this is extremely convenient, it is much more expensive! To save money, always buy vegetables that are whole and still need to be “processed.” While it may take more time, you will end up with more food for less money.

9. Buy in bulk

If you have a Sam’s Club or Costco nearby, get yourself a membership and go there ASAP. You will save so much money by buying your protein from these stores. Vegetables and fruit are also significantly cheaper. While you do have to pay for the membership upfront, in the long run you will save significant amounts of money. Plus you can stock up your freezer and will not need to get meat from the store quite as often.

Last but not least….

10. Wear comfy shoes

This may seem like an odd tip to leave off on. However, if you are constantly cooking, prepping, and doing dishes, your feet will become fatigued quickly (especially if you don’t have a comfy mat to stand on). I wear Crocs at work, at the store, while cooking…. literally everywhere. I have really bad plantar fasciitis that I am trying to heal, and crocs have been the best thing. I never understood Mario Batali and his orange crocs…. until now (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go find a picture. It will be worth it 🙂 )

Well there you have it! My top 10 tips for meal prepping! I hope this has been helpful and informative. If you have any thoughts or suggestions please let me know! I am planning on making a meal prep video so you can see my exact process on Sundays and throughout the week.

Thank you so much for joining me today! Talk with you soon 🙂

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