MEAL PREP: involves preparing meals ahead of time for a short or extended period of time This practice may occur among people who desire to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Advance preparation can serve to standardize food portions. Sometimes meals are fully cooked, other times they are not.
Meal prep can be quite scary to the untrained or inexperience cook. When we started with this lifestyle I use to think of meal prep as punishment for wanting to eat healthier. Glad to say now I look forward to meal prep s I know the value it adds to our life. This will be the first of many posts, and I hope it will help all to improve.
Meal prep is not a “one size fits all” and you will have to find what works for you and your family. When we started meal prep, it was just chopping mushrooms, onions, peppers and keeping them in the fridge for a quick morning scrambled eggs or to add to our dinner.
After Little M was born my mom helped me to make a few freezer meals, as she said it will really come handy later on. And now I have to say “THANK YOU MOM!”. I thought to myself, how will this help me with a new born. We cooked a huge pot of beef stew with rice (yes, brown rice, we were not following this lifestyle) and minestrone soup. We portioned it into about 8 – 10 meals and it was the best thing we could have ever done. Without even realizing this was my first step into the right direction.
So how did we go from meal prep amateur into meal prep nerd? I follow these 5 easy steps;
PLAN: This might seem stupid but meal prep is all about planning. We started off by developing our own meal prep plan, including all the LCHF food we love. Our meal plan was only for 1 week, and very open ended, just to give us a guide as to what we could possibly eat. Once we had an idea of what we could eat, it was easy to play around with the meals.
VARIETY: Variety is key. I cannot stress it enough! Eating the same food every day is boring and soon your body will start asking for something unhealthy. Don’t eat eggs every day, its maybe quick and easy, but you will get tired of 2 boiled eggs or cheese omelet. Mix it up! Eat left overs for br4eakfast or skip breakfast and eat left overs for lunch.
TIMING: After variety I think timing is crucial. NEVER, I repeat never try ad rush meal prep, or try and fit it into an already tight schedule. It is not worth it. Meal prep is there to make your life easier, so don’t do t just to create more stress. My ideal time for meal rep is Sunday afternoon, when Little M and hubby takes a nap. I also try to keep my meal prep time to as little as possible. On average I spend about 90 min in the kitchen to cook a few meals or chop and vacuum pack the meat or veggies.
PREPARATION: This might seem crazy by you need to prep to ensure your meal prep will be successful. What do I mean by prep? Well, simply, you can’t make freezer meals without the appropriate containers or coconut chicken without chicken. It is here where the menu or meal plan comes in handy. I use the meal plan as a guide to ensure we have a variety of freezer meals as you don’t want to have 10 cottage pies but you are craving chicken pie.
COOKING: As I stated earlier, not all meal prep includes cooking. The golden rule here is work smarter not harder. Make use of available kitchen equipment, such as pressure cooker (HINT, I so need one) or slow cooker, to make things easier for you and limit the time you spend in the kitchen, especially in the summer. For stews I use my slow cooker and cook it overnight and only portion it the following day. For things like cottage pie or lasagna, I par-cook the meals so that I just have to heat it again when needed. I believe a few hours cooking will safe you triple the amount of time, especially if you have no time, and of course it will ensure you keep eating healthy, LCHF food during tough times.
I am not expert yet, but the value of meal prep is worthy every second in a hot kitchen.
I hope that these few tips will help and encourage you to find the meal prep process or action that works for you and your family.