If you find it impossible to find time for lunch each morning or cook dinner each night, or if you rely more on takeaway than you would like, you're probably ready to jump into the food preparation train. How should you? Except, um, how are you going to start? If you've never done it before, cooking meals can be overwhelming. But it really is not. Here's everything you need to know to succeed.
What is the preparation of meals and why should I try it?
Preparing meals is exactly what sounds like: preparing your meals (or meal components) before eating so that you have something to eat is ready to eat whenever you are. The easiest way to do it? Choose a day when you are free ̵
People love preparing meals because they make life easy. Trying to figure out what to prepare for dinner every night can be exhausting, and finding the time to do it can be much more. When preparing meals, you get the work out of the way prematurely. Instead of taking the time to think about food and cooking during the week, everything is already there.
Planning your meals in advance can also help you eat healthier foods. "We tend to make better decisions for our future selves than we do for our present self," says Georgie Fear, RD, CSSD, author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss . If you are exhausted after a long day, you can eat light or frozen pizza. But you'll probably be motivated to make better decisions – such as salmon and quinoa or chicken-pepper fajitas – if you set your menu in advance.
How to Prepare
You prepare several meals All at once may be an overwhelming task. But it's actually pretty easy when you get the hang of it. Here is a step-by-step guide to getting started.
. 1 Equip.
Regardless of what some food preparation instructions say, you do not have to buy a lot of new products before you start. Having the right tools can be very helpful. Consider adding these items if you do not have them yet.
- One or two large sheet metal forms. Use for roasting vegetables, proteins or full plate meals.
- A big soup pot. It's the key to stews like soups, stews, curries or chili.
- A medium-sized sauce container . Use it to cook whole-grain products or to prepare hard-boiled eggs.
- Glass storage container with sturdy lids. They are the best options for the storage of ready-made food. (And unlike plastic, no chemicals are leached into your food.) Different sizes for storing large and small lots of pre-made items.
- Zipped pockets. Small are ideal for portioning snacks such as nuts or sliced vegetables. Larger ones are suitable for storing whole meals or items when the storage containers run out (or more space for more containers in your refrigerator).
. 2 Plan your menu.
Before you start cooking, you need to find out what you are going to do. Try to have a protein, a vegetable and a starch for each meal – the combination helps you stay happy, says nutrition expert Kelly Jones, MS, RD. What exactly to cook? Heaven is the limit, but in general, the most successful meals fall into one of the following categories:
- Stew or Stews: Think of soups, curries, chillies, oatmeal, or anything else that you put in a pot or crock -Pot cook. "They're always a great option because you do not have to add anything but spices to the meal," says Jones. Also tin pan dishes and frittatas (bake in a large pan and cut into slices or make individual portions in muffin form) work here. If you want maximum simplicity, this is the way to go, says Fear.
- Component-Based Meals: Do you want more variety? Prepare proteins, vegetables and starches individually for mixing and matching. For example, pre-made vegetables can beat a pizza on Monday, be mixed in pasta sauce on Tuesday, and folded into tacos on Wednesday, Fear says. And since a simple bowl of quinoa, vegetables and chicken or tempeh can get a little boring, plan a few sauces, dressings or toppings to make things interesting from a taste perspective, Jones says.
Do you need to map out every single thing you will eat all week? Nope. "Having a plan for most meals can be helpful to some people, but it's important, especially when preparing meals, that you start small," says Jones. 19659004 Start with the preparation of only two dinners. Double the ingredients so you can eat every dinner twice and bam! They covered four nights.
. 3 Shopping and cooking.
When your menu is scheduled, you can create a shopping list and shop. Think about everything you will cook and write down all the ingredients you need. That's the key! Having an actual list (rather than trying to keep track of everything in your head) increases the likelihood that you will actually take everything home with you – and not wasting any time later in the process Shop to return.
When it's time to cook, think about how you can maximize your efficiency as much as possible. "Meal preparation should take no longer than an hour or two if you're doing multitasking in the right way," says Jones. (These recipes only last 15 minutes from start to finish!) When you turn on the oven, roast vegetables and bake chicken or tofu at the same time. Then start a pot of quinoa or soup on the stove. While it simmers, chopping fruits or vegetables or whipping a portion of hummus for snacking, she suggests.
. 4 Pack it.
Did you prepare everything? Congratulation! Now is the time to save everything so you can easily access your meals and ingredients throughout the week. Three important tips to keep in mind:
- Use the correct containers. Portion individual portions into small individual containers that are easy to grab and leave, says Jones. Dinners that you serve in large quantities can be stored in larger containers.
- Keep salads and dressings separate. Saving already dressed salad is a recipe for a soggy, withered mess, says Fear. Keep everything fresh by packing chopped salad vegetables into one container and dabbing them into another.
- Cool before cooling. It's okay to put hot food directly into your glass storage bin. However, let the food come to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator – especially when it comes to large batches. If you put a family portion of hot chili in the fridge, everything that's already there will be warmed up, says Fear. This could possibly set the stage for spoilage and food poisoning.
. 5 Eat strategically.
You have all the delicious food ready – what should you eat first? "Most things can be prepared in advance and stay safe for five days," says Fear. Nevertheless, animal proteins often tend to lose their luster the fastest. So remember to eat your meatier meals earlier in the week and keep your vegetable protein for later, Jones recommends.
Of course it is always a good idea to use your judgment. If something looks or smells suspicious, do not eat it – even if it's just sitting in the fridge for a day or two. Use this guide to determine how long the food really lasts.