By Lauren Mason of Sterilite Corporation
The holidays have come and gone, the desserts are out of the house, and it is time to get started on those New Year’s resolutions. If you are trying to eat healthier this new year, meal prepping can help you achieve this goal. It can help you save money too! Meal planning and cooking in bulk really allows you to cut down on your food expenses. By using methods like a slow cooker or freezing meals, along with some simple organizing and planning, you will be amazed how much money you can save while still eating healthy.
The first step to developing a good meal planning system is obvious; plan ahead! Start out by making a budget that is reasonable for you each week. Over the weekend, plan out what you are going to eat the following week and write it down. Determine all the ingredients you will need and head to the grocery store. It is helpful to estimate the cost of everything before going shopping to make sure it is under budget. You can look up food prices quite easily on line. Once you have gathered everything you need, it is time to start the meal prepping process. I prefer to do this on Sundays when I have some free time, but you can do this whatever day of the week works best for you.
Making a weekly menu can really help out with meal planning. Print out a simple weekly calendar and hang it up somewhere convenient for you so you know what you have ahead of you. I personally like this one, but there are plenty others that you can find online as well.
It is important to have healthy snacks with you for when you get hungry throughout the day. By planning ahead and packing healthy snacks for work or school, you can avoid hitting the vending machines, which are filled with unhealthy choices. Healthy snacks also keep you fuller longer…fruits and veggies are much more filling than chips and cookies. The following are some of my favorite snacks: Apple and peanut butter, vegetables and hummus, pretzels and guacamole, and lightly salted almonds. All of these can be prepped on a Sunday afternoon and portioned out into Sterilite’s Ultra Seal Food Storage Containers for each day of the week.
Meal planning gives you the opportunity to eat healthier and still have tasty meals. Using a crock pot is one of the best ways to prep a delicious meal with minimal time and effort on your part. Crock pots are great! Prep the ingredients ahead of time, throw everything into the pot the morning of, let it cook for a few hours, and by the end of the day, you have a home cooked dinner ready for your family. I personally like to make a crock pot meal on Sunday and pack it for my lunch each day that week. This way I don’t have to worry about making a lunch each morning. Check out some of my favorite slow cooker recipes:
Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers
Crock Pot Chicken Burrito Bowl
Crock Pot Chicken with Apple and Sweet Potato
Another great food prep technique is to make meals ahead of time, pack them in Sterilite’s Ultra Seal Food Storage Containers, and keep them frozen until the day you plan on eating it. Just take it out, let the food thaw, and toss it in the microwave. This allows you to prep and cook in bulk but freeze individual portions. It works great with soups and stir fries. Last week I made this 15 Minute Healthy Chicken and Veggies and it came out great! It tastes just as good after being frozen as it does fresh. Here are some of my other favorite meals to freeze:
Make Ahead Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches
Chicken Pot Pie - Freezable
Lasagna Freezer Meal