In this post, I covered the basics of how I meal prep (which I still use), but now that I've been doing it a lot longer, my routine has become much more efficient before I even start making food.
Before you start meal prep:
Take note of your eating habits - This is absolutely THE most important step you can take not only to avoid wasting food you spent your money on, but to also see where your daily eating habits need to change for the better (hello future blog post idea??).
For example: I'm not a huge fan of oranges, but (because I like to switch up my daily fruits) I'll buy them every once in a while. I used to buy several at a time, then I realized I can't eat them fast enough yet I LOVE bananas and have at least 2 per day, so when I'm grocery shopping, I only buy 2 oranges and focus more on fruits I love more.
Schedule a meal prep day/time - Fail to plan, plan to fail. I know our schedules can get crazy, but reserving a time to meal prep will make things so much easier. Saturday is my meal prep day but it doesn't have to be a weekend. Whatever fits your schedule on a weekly basis, add it to your calendar and stick with it. If you're out of town on a meal prep day, adjust accordingly for that week.
Shop around - I'm lucky enough to live around several grocery stores so I don't just grocery shop at one. I take notes and look at flyers so I know what items to buy at each store for the most affordable price. Why pay more when you don't have to? Pay attention to weekly sales & even regular prices on food - especially items you buy every week.
Use coupons - In my opinion, why not save as much money as possible - even if it's $.25 here and there? Totally worth it in the end.
Frozen is your friend - Frozen fruit and vegetables are picked at the peak of freshness, then frozen and sent to your local grocery store. You can use frozen bags of fruit to put in smoothies (that way you don't need to add as much ice) as well as saute or steam vegetables to throw in stir fry, wraps, salads and more.
Know when to pay a little more - I certainly don't make a habit of this (#frugal) but sometimes you have to pay more for better quality items. The Aldi store I go to doesn't ever have good quality produce so I usually stay away from buying most produce there.
Instead, I go to the much bigger grocery store with a giant produce section - most of which is from local farms (bonus!). If you're still not finding quality produce, do some research and see if a produce delivery service is near you like Hometown Harvest. It's a great way to get fresh produce and support local farmers!
Stock up the freezer - No time to cook all the turkey burgers after you mix them up? Divide the meat equally, form into patties and individually wrap them up and stick them in the freezer. I usually leave 1 or 2 in the refrigerator to make for the next day or so but the rest stay in the freezer and I take them out as needed.
Double duty items - I bought a bag of lemons a while back then realized (as I was trying to use them up) that they're perfect for detox water, to flavor chicken/fish and fresh squeezed lemon juice makes a light and refreshing salad dressing. Think of different way to use items and you'll never get bored!
Take help from the store - I make a lot of egg whites each week but don't want to waste the egg yolks, so I buy a carton of egg whites each time I get groceries. (I started buying the smaller ounce carton but that wasn't enough so I buy the larger one now.) Each week I meal prep, I make about half of the carton which is enough to last me 5 days for breakfast, then make the rest later in the week.
During meal prep:
Multitask in the kitchen - We do only have 2 hands which sometimes makes multitasking hard but not when it comes to cooking! The reason is this: you have multiple burners on a stove, an oven, a microwave so use it all! Maybe not everything at once but think about the food you're making and have a plan to get it all done in a shorter amount of time by using several appliances at once.
How I do it: If I'm making roasted veggies (or sweet potatoes, etc) then I'll prepare those and pop them in the oven. Then I turn to making stove top items (hard boiled eggs, egg whites, quinoa, etc) while the oven is doin' it's thang. Make sure to set a timer though! That way you won't forget about any food that may be cooking.
So now that you're ready to meal prep, what whole/clean foods should you eat to fuel your body properly? Download my clean eating grocery list here.
Still have questions? Leave a comment or shoot me an email (alissakelly1 at gmail dot com) and I'll be happy to answer them!