How To Start Meal Prepping For Beginners

How To Start Meal Prepping For Beginners

Ready to start meal prepping? It can seem like a daunting task, but we promise it's not as hard as you think. It's actually pretty easy. We've got some tips and tricks that'll help you get the most out of your meal prep sessions.



Okay everyone settle down, it’s time to get the class started! We hope you all have your materials prepared and your listening ears on because there will be a quiz at the end! Just kidding, this isn’t that type of class. We’re here to give you meal planning tips and provide you with easy steps to meal prep! 

That’s right, it’s the Meal Preparation Workshop! Whether you’re looking for meal prep tips for beginners, or are just trying to brush up on your preparation skills before fall, we’ve got you covered! 

 

Sections

How To Meal Prep

Meal Prep Ingredients List

Meal Prep Hacks

How Long Can Cooked Food Stay Refrigerated 

Other Meal Prep Tips

 

How To Meal Prep

Let’s first jump into a basic outline on how to meal prep! Our good friend and colleague Instructor Howie is here to guide you on how to meal plan! 

“Helloooo students! It’s great that you guys are here to pick up a thing or two about meal prepping! I’m going to give you a rough guideline on how you can plan your meals. Certain steps are interchangeable/replaceable, and the more in tune you become with planning, the better you’ll get at figuring out what works best for you!”

“Here is a breakdown of how to begin meal prepping…

 

Choose A Timeline: When you begin, it’s essential that you decide how long you’d like to meal prep for. Whether this be for 2-3 days, half of the week, or the full week! It’s important to decide your meal prep timeline so you know how much to make and when to make it.

 

Make A Plan: Here you’ll need to decide if you’ll be planning all your meals for the day or just a select few. For instance, you can primarily plan your breakfast as you know you have limited time in the mornings. Or, you can plan for your dinners because you find that you’re too exhausted to cook in the evenings. Whatever your desired meal is, it’s important that you have an idea so that you can remain as organized as possible. 

 

Craft Your Menu: Next you’re going to want to decide…what do I even want to eat? This is where you’ll craft your menu items! Whether that’s 1 selected recipe that you’ll have for the entirety of your plan or 2 that you’ll interchange between, this step is where you’ll decide what you prefer! 

 

Create Your Schedule: This is where you’ll decide what days out of the week you’ll be preparing and cooking all of your meals! 

 

Get Your Storage Ready: Assign the containers that you’ll use to store your meals! Containers that are air tight or that have locking lids are best as they will help keep your food fresher for a longer period of time. Containers that are oven & microwave safe will help with making your reheating process a lot easier. Also, a bonus is having containers that have separate compartments as it will help with separating the different portions of your meal. 

 

Make A List + Go Shopping: You can base this list off of the menu you crafted in step 2. Once you have your list ready, shop for all of the ingredients that you need for your meals! As Adviser Ben mentioned previously, having a list will suppress your desire to buy other unnecessary items! 

 

Ingredient Prep + Get To Cooking: It’s time to actually get your ingredients ready and cook your meals! You can cook all of your meals at one time; this is also known as “Batch Cooking”. The other option you have is prepping all of the ingredients you would need for your meal so that way when it’s time to make it, you have everything ready. The option you choose is dependent on what your lifestyle and preference is!

 

Store Your Meals: When everything is ready to go, place your meals or your ingredients in your containers and put them away in your fridge or freezer! 

 

Heat It Up: Now that your meals are all prepped and ready, you can enjoy them with ease! You can warm them up in an oven or microwave and enjoy! 

 

“And that is essentially the basics of meal prepping!”

Thank you, Instructor Howie! That was very informative and thorough! We’ll give you guys some time to make final notes…

We know some of you are probably wondering what types of foods/ingredients work well for meal prepping. So let’s jump into our next module!

 

Meal Prep Ingredients List

Here to give you quick meal prep ingredient ideas is Counsellor Ingred!

“I’ll quickly go over some ingredients that are versatile and can be used in many dishes which makes them perfect for meal prepping!”

 

Beans/Peas 

Canned beans are great for meal prepping as they come in a variety of types that you can use in various dishes. You can use black soybeans and make a delicious bean salad, or you can use  

red beans and make a savoury chili!  

 

Fresh/Frozen Protein 

Fresh and frozen protein like chicken is a staple that you can grill, bake, or even fry! Ground meat is also great for making different stews, meat loafs, or casseroles!  

 

Canned Protein 

Similarly, canned meats are also effective staples that are pre cooked and ready to use! Meats like salmon and sardines work well with a variety of dishes! 

 

Rice 

You can’t go wrong with a classic rice component! You can make fried rice, a simple steamed rice, or even a flavourful stir fry!  

Pasta 

The pasta-bilities are endless with this ingredient! You can use noodles to make a delicious pad thai! Or keep it simple with a pennespaghetti, add some sauce and you’re good to go! 

 

Veggies 

When preparing your vegetables, try not to overcook them as they’ll become soggy over time in the fridge! From artichokes to asparagus, the veggie options are almost endless!

Ready Made Meals 

Sometimes you’re not in the mood for an extreme batch cooking session and that’s okay! Certain ready made meals like assorted bowls are a quick and easy substitute that you can add to the proteins of your choice! 


“That’s essentially all the basic ingredients that you can start your meal prepping list off with!” 

Thank you Counsellor! Make your final notes everyone because it’s time to get into some good meal prep hacks! 

 

Meal Prep Hacks

Let’s look at some useful meal planning hacks that you can use to make your meal prepping easy and efficient! Here to provide you with these great tips is Professor Hackson!

“Good day everyone! Let’s explore some meal prep hacks that will be beneficial to practice while planning and preparing your meals!”

 

  1. When you’re prepping produce ingredients like peppers, tomatoes, or onions for example, keep them separate. Rinse them off, let them dry, slice/dice them, and place them in their respective containers. That way when you’re ready to start cooking, all you have to do is grab the container that you need! 
  2. When you wash greens like lettuce or kale, place a paper towel in the bottom of the container and on top of the veggies before placing them in the fridge. This will help absorb any excess water and prevent your greens from getting soggy before you’re ready to use them! 

  3. Prepare your protein right after buying it to save you time when batch cooking. This includes washing if needed, pat drying, and adding any basic seasonings that will work well with the dishes you have planned for them. You can then place them away in your freezer until it’s time to batch cook!

  4. Precook specific grains like rice and quinoa, and place any leftovers away in the freezer. This will help fill in the gaps when you’re running low on time to make a large batch during your future preps. Make sure your rice is cooled completely before placing it in a ziplock freezer bag or airtight container. 

  5. Create bags for your smoothies! Place all of the ingredients you would like for a specific smoothie in one freezer bag. When you’re ready to make a smoothie, you can just put the contents of the bag directly into the blender and just add the liquid of your choice (Ex: almond milk, yogurt, fruit juice, etc.). You can add ingredients like strawberries, kale, blueberries, bananas, spinach, oranges, and many more to your smoothie bag! 

  6. Make slow-cooked meals using ingredients like beans, ground meat, veggies, and sauces, to save you even more time when batch cooking. You can make recipes like chilis, stews, or even just use it to cook the main proteins of your dish! Using this method from time to time will help you focus your energy on other things that need to be prepared. 

  7. When preparing the ingredients for your salads, always store your dressings and vinaigrettes in a separate container away from your lettuce and other dry toppings. This will help prevent your lettuce from getting soggy when it’s time for you to actually eat it! No one wants a soggy sad salad, that’s for sure! 

  8. Blanch your veggies instead of cooking them all the way through. You can blanch them by boiling them for 60-90 seconds, then removing them from the heat and running them under cold water. That way when it’s time to eat your meals, they won't be super soft and mushy as they will finish cooking in the microwave/oven.

 

How Long Can Cooked Food Stay Refrigerated 

“Before I hand it off to my colleague, let’s talk about refrigeration! Specifically how long you can keep certain cooked foods in the fridge/freezer according to sources: 

 

Cooked Egg, Meat, Veggies, or Stew 

Fridge = 3 - 4 days (at 4°C)

Freezer = 2 - 3 months (at -18°C)

 

Cooked Poultry and Fish 

Fridge = 3 - 4 days (at 4°C)

Freezer = 4 - 6 months (at -18°C)

 

Meat Broth and Gravy 

Fridge = 3 - 4 days (at 4°C)

Freezer = 4 - 6 months (at -18°C)

 

Soups 

Fridge = 2 - 3 days (at 4°C)

Freezer = 4 months (at -18°C)

 

Cooked Pasta 

Fridge = 3 - 5 days (at 4°C)

Freezer = 2 - 3 months (at -18°C)

 

Cooked Rice 

Fridge = 3 - 4 days (at 4°C)

Freezer = 1 - 2 months (at -18°C)

“Be sure to familiarize yourself with different food safety protocols to ensure that you’re storing/preparing your ingredients safely. However, these are all of the meal-prepping tips and tricks that I have for you! Enjoy everyone!”

Thank you so much, Professor, for such helpful and useful information! Okay, it’s time to get into our final lesson, everyone!

 

Other Meal Prep Tips

We’ve finally arrived at our final module for this workshop! Without further ado, Coach Tippet is here to equip you with some final things you can keep in mind on your meal prep journey!

“They always save the best for last as per usual! Some meal-prepping tips to keep in mind are…

  1. When batch cooking your meals, make sure that they’ve cooled to room temperature before placing them in your container and into the fridge.

  2. Choose your menu/recipes wisely! If you pick recipes that have similar ingredients, it’ll help you have variety without having to prep more ingredients.

  3. Keep it as simple as possible! Overcomplicating your recipes will only leave you frustrated, especially when you have to batch cook your meals.

  4. Label your containers to help with organizing your meals. This will make it a lot easier to just grab and go!

  5. Make sure you actually like the meals that you’re preparing! If you’re not a fan of the meals it’ll only make you dread eating them throughout the day.

  6. Finally, be kind to yourself! Meal prepping can be rough for anyone when starting out, so take it easy on yourself and learn from your mistakes. 

 

“That’s all the tips I have for you!”

Thanks Coach, we appreciate you! That’s a wrap everyone; on to the closing remarks!

 

Final Thoughts

You’ve all made it to the end of our Meal Preparation Workshop! We hope these meal prep tips, tricks, and guidelines will help you on your meal prep journey! Until next time…class dismissed! 

Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only. Please consult with your health care team prior to making any changes to your diet or lifestyle. 

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