Whether or not people are truly as “busy” as we advertise, we all seem to like to talk about how busy and crazy our lives are…
For some of us, it might actually be true.
Often times, the result of our business is that our intention to cook a healthy meal for dinner gets thrown out the window for something quick and easy, or our intended day of meal prepping just doesn’t happen.
If this is you and you want to turn a new leaf and actually honour your commitment to yourself to meal planning and meal prepping, here at 6 steps to becoming a master meal prepper!
You’ll realize when you follow these steps that meal prepping really doesn’t have to be time-consuming at all. If you’re efficient, you can easily churn our five prepped meals by just spending an extra hour in the kitchen per week.
Step 1. Keep it realistic and do-able
If you’re new to meal prepping, don’t bite off more than you can chew. I’ve had clients tell me they’re going to make 12 elaborate dinners and lunches with all these obscure ingredients every Sunday.
That might be a bit aggressive….
Maybe just start with devoting two hours each week to make five lunches for that week.
And keep it simple: Start with just one meat and a veg. Get used to the routine of meal prepping first before you get all elaborate. Being too fancy and ambitious will just end up being too time-consuming and might cause your well-intended motivation to dwindle.
Step 2. Get a slow cooker, or even two!
A slow cooker is your best friend when it comes to meal prep as it does 95 percent of the work for you.
Let’s say as you’re making dinner on Saturday night: While you’re cooking, take the time to pop a couple pork shoulders with some spices in the slow cooker. It only takes a few minutes to prep, but then when your meal prep Sunday rolls around, all you have to do is cook some vegetables and pull your pork. Literally within 30 to 45 minutes, you could have 10 lunches prepared and packaged and ready to freeze.
Step 3. Take an inventory of your fridge beforehand
Though it’s great to have an exact idea and execute it, it’s also efficient to use what you already have on hand, as it saves you money, and you’ll reduce food waste in the process. It might also help you mix and match, for example, vegetables. This way, your meals for the week won’t necessarily be the exact same each day.
Step 4. Get all of the Tupperware
Invest in good quality Tupperware with solid lids that aren’t going to fall off. If they’re all the same then you never have to search and search for the lid that fits the container you put your food in (missing Tupperware lids are kind of like the sock that disappears in the dryer: A mystery).
But seriously, get 12-20 Tupperware containers of the same brand and size and you’re set for life. Or at least for a couple years.
Step 5. Use leftovers to your advantage
Another time-saving tip is to use leftovers in your plan. If, for example, you know you’re making a ham for dinner, use the leftover ham in a soup you’re planning on meal prepping for next week’s lunches.
Step 6. Cook once, eat twice. Or three times.
Like the measure twice, cut once rule, if you’re bothering to cook, cook extra on purpose. Meal prep doesn’t always have to mean batch cooking 7 to 10 meals every Sunday. It can also mean making just one or two extra meals for later.
So if you know you’re not going to have to skip this Sunday meal prep day, but are cooking a meal on Friday night, at least make enough for a couple extra meals that you can package up and freeze or refrigerate right away.
Ok, as promised, here are two meal prep ideas to get you thinking in the right direction:
Pulled pork with mashed yams and spinach
Step 1: Throw a pork shoulder or two (depending on how much you want) in the slow cooker. Add a little bit of water and some seasoning. I use salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, chilli powder and oregano, but really the options are endless. Cook for 6 to 8 hours. Then pull the pork.
Step 2: Cook 3 to 5 yams (in the oven or on the stove), depending on the size and how much you want to make. Put them in the food processor and puree (or mash the old fashioned way with a potato masher). Add a little butter or ghee and some cream or coconut milk, and some salt and pepper.
Step 3. Cook a few bundles of spinach—or just place raw spinach at the bottom of each container. When you warm it up later before you eat, the spinach will cook in no time.
Step 4: Add some pork and yams in each container on top of the cooked or raw spinach. Seal them and freeze them, or keep them in the fridge if you’re planning on eating them in the next three days or so.
Optional: Douse each meal with hot sauce if you’re into that!
2. Beef brisket and pork chilli
Step 1: Slow cook a beef brisket for 6 to 8 hours (it’s best to do this overnight so it’s ready to go when you’re ready to make the chilli).
Step 2: Get a giant pot!
Step 2: Saute two or three chopped onions and plenty of chopped garlic in butter.
Step 3: When they’re soft, add chilli powder, paprika, dry parsley, oregano, basil, salt and pepper to taste (you can always add more later, but I start with a couple teaspoons of each).
Step 4: Add chopped vegetables of your choice. I like using red pepper, green peppers, carrots and mushrooms. Other great options include kale and celery. Throw in whatever leftover vegetable you have in your fridge, in fact.
Step 4: Chop some tomatoes (or use canned tomatoes): Approximately 3 cans or 10 to 12 tomatoes, depending on how much you want tomatoes to dominate the chilli.
Step 5: Add cup or so of water or chicken broth to thin out the chilli, if need be.
Step 6: In a separate pan, cook the ground pork (2 to 3 lb.) until cooked through.
Step 6: Add 3 to 4 cups of beans (either raw or canned). Any beans will suffice, but usually I use a blend of kidney beans, black beans and pinto beans.
Step 7: Add the meat —the beef brisket and the ground pork—to the giant pot of chilli.
Step 8: Let simmer on low heat for a couple hours until all the flavours have a chance to develop.
Make sure you taste the chilli as you go and add more spices and salt and pepper as needed.
Good luck. Keep it simple. And once meal prepping becomes a habit, you won’t even think about it….