The 4 Essential Steps of Meal Prepping – Planning, Shopping, Cooking, Eating. Each one takes some time. But you wanted to do meal prepping to save time! It’s a cruel irony, I’m aware.
The trick to streamlining this process is seeing how each step leads into the others. Let’s look closer at each step:
- Planning – This is the step where you can save yourself the most time. You’re deciding what you’ll make and how it will fit into the week ahead. This is my favorite step. Because I get really excited, I’ll sometimes over-commit on Cooking Day, slogging through an 8-hour hell I created for myself. I’m all about finding recipes that get you jazzed, but you’ve got to find a balance. If you know you’re cooking something difficult, make the other dishes you plan quick and simple. Read a recipe all the way through. Pay attention to cooking/prep times. Your Cooking Day self will thank you.
- Shopping – Unless you can hire a delivery service, there’s only so much streamlining you can do in the Shopping step. The hard-to-find stuff can be ordered online, which will save you a trip to a specialty store. If you already dislike grocery shopping, don’t plan recipes that have you running to three different stores. Get to know one well-stocked store, and make it work. If you want to include farmers’ markets in your routine, plan to go when you’ll be well-rested and can enjoy it. That’s part of the farmers’ market magic! A CSA box will get you fresh produce but is hard to plan your menu around. We’ll discuss that later on this site.
- Cooking – More time spent on Cooking Day means less time spent on Serving Day. If you’ve got a hectic workweek and you want to spend less than 10 mins. making dinner, you invest more time on Cooking Day. If you don’t mind spending time cooking throughout the week, just prep a few items on Cooking Day. I like big Cooking Days, so I can have breakfast, lunch and dinner during the week with minimal effort. Figure out what you want your week to look like. Then make your streamlining decisions from there.
- Eating – Always the fun part. I do enough work on Cooking Day that it takes 5 mins. to serve breakfast, 10 mins. to serve lunch and 15 mins. to serve dinner during the week. The Planning, Shopping and Cooking made Eating super easy. And when I can make a healthy dinner in 15 mins. or less, I’m more likely to do it. Eating Step accomplished!
Pay attention to how the steps flow for you. Get clear on your preferences. And get going.