Steps To Successful Meal Preparation

Meal preparation is not about just cooking and throwing the meals into a container.  There are certain steps you need to take into account around the process of prepping meals before you even start cooking that will help you stay consistent in the process and clear in the expectations involved with this task.  You will save time and frustration if you put them into place before you actually begin. Here are a few of those steps to keep in mind.

Set Aside Time For Each “Prep Step”

The key to making meal prepping work before you even start is to set aside times or a day for the shopping, prepping, cooking and storing. Typically I will not do all four steps in one day but many folks do. You have to figure out what works best for you and then do it consistently. I do my meal planning and shopping on the same day and when I come home I do some preparation of my vegetables such as slicing, dicing and chopping depending on what my meal plan dictates. Then on a weekend day, I block out 1-3 hours and do the remainder of my prepping and cooking as well as storing depending on when the foods I made will be consumed.

You may think that prepping should not take long, so you could prepare the next day of food the night before. I like to have it all done rather than rely on my memory from day to day to chop this, prep that or cook that other thing for the upcoming meal. The truth is that can become very stressful overtime and you may forget something or just not feel like doing it. Also, consider that life gets in the way sometimes. Picking one day, or afternoon, a week or month will help you get through the prepping and cooking and make sure you don’t overlook anything or become too overwhelmed or stressed.

 
Cook Like Temperatures Together

One way to speed up the process and make sure that everything is cooked properly is to cook foods of like temperatures together. For example, if you are baking chicken that takes twenty minutes at 375 degrees, you can also bake potatoes that take an hour and a half at the same temperature. I have two slow cookers and it’s typical for me to use them both at the same time on my batch cook days. This keeps my stove and oven open for other dishes and is much easier on me to let the slow cookers do the work over the course of several hours.

The key to cooking like temperatures together is to set up a timer to ensure you are taking out the foods at the right time. This will save on energy costs since you will be running the oven for less time and cooking the same amount of food. Be thoughtful about cooking during hot seasons as well as having a hot oven baking for hours can really challenge your air conditioning to keep you cool on summer days.

 
Have Containers on Standby

Make sure your containers are on standby and ready to go. This goes for labels and markers as well so you know what containers have which foods in them and no one is guessing by the end of the week! You will want to dish out the food for your meals all at once and have everything ready to go into the fridge. You should also make sure the containers are ready for all the meals you are making. This will make sure that you have everything you need for breakfast, lunch, and dinner prep and you aren’t halfway through before you realize you have forgotten something. Label each container with the food type, any special instructions, and the time for the food such as breakfast or dinner if needed.

 

By keeping these how-to tips and methods in mind, you can make the entire meal planning, prepping and cooking process so much easier. You can also ensure you have everything you need, beyond the food, to get you on the right meal preparation and planning track. These steps make is easy to include children and other family members in the process as it should be a team affair.

 

Want me to help you lessen the overwhelm of planning those healthy meals?  Then check out my Real Food Meal Plans!

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