For those of you who are already adept at meal prepping, you are no doubt waxing lyrical to all and sundry about the time-saving, cost-saving, and the health-inducing benefits of your new favourite pastime. To those people, we at Igluu doth our caps, and salute you! For the uninitiated, however, meal prepping can be a slightly daunting task to begin with. After your first week of prep, the benefits soon become pretty obvious to see, but even then, some of us fall foul of a few mistakes that can lead us to believe that meal prepping, in general, is a tricky affair. This, quite frankly, isn’t true. All successful meal prepping needs is a little planning and foresight, and before you know it, those little mistakes that make you feel like this endeavour is a slightly troublesome one, will fade into the background. So what exactly are these pitfalls that many of us experience when we start our meal prep adventures? Let’s take a look.
We all do this from time to time. Even the most seasoned of meal prep experts can end up looking at a less than perfect selection of ingredients and condiments in their cupboards on the day of prep, and wondering just what they can possibly make that is both delicious and nutritious from a bowl of cereal and some eggs. The key to keeping a well-stocked pantry is all in the preparation. When you are out at the supermarket for your weekly shop, make sure you have a list with you. You may think that you know roughly what you need back at home for the coming week, but the chances are you will forget something. When you get home and realise that important ingredient isn’t in the cupboard, you can often find yourself making excuses to leave the prepping for another day, or perhaps making a ton of meals that don’t have quite the favour that they should (and in turn being disappointed with the results). The key point here is to plan ahead, and make those lists! It is also worth noting that those of you who have purchased meal prep containers from Igluu before would have been able to access our Meal Prep Guidebook (free with every purchase), or if haven’t yet bought from our store, you can buy the guide from our store for £6.99. This guide includes a meal planner and shopping checklist that will help out immensely when you are trying to shop savvy!
Store the excess, ready for a rainy day
So, you have all your meal prep containers laid out, filled to the brim with succulent, tasty meals for the week, but you also have some leftover ingredients that will simply not fit into any of the containers. For some, they will simply throw this excess away (that’s a no-no in our book!), while others will put the extra sauce/cooked veg/jerk fish into a jar, and then leave it in the fridge in the hope that they will find a need for them at some point in the near future. This is all well and good if you do indeed use them, but more often than not you can find these leftovers going to waste. If you do find yourself in a situation where you have another portion of pasta sauce sitting on the side, make sure you freeze it. Obviously, this depends on the specific ingredients, but if they are freezable, you may very well make use of them later in the month once you have finished your pre-prepped meals, and moved onto another set of lunches or dinners. You may have had your fill of that delicious Carbonara sauce after week one, but by week three it may make a nice change to throw into a pan with some fresh pasta, just to change things up a bit, mid-week!
For some people, prepping a week’s worth of lunches is perfectly doable. For others, a whole month of tasty lunches is how they like to roll. If however, your life doesn’t allow for this, there is no shame in meal prepping for 3 or 4 days at a time. Don’t forget that not only is meal prep about eating healthy, tasty, and nutritious food, it is also about making your life easier. If your freezer only has a minimal amount of room available, prepping for a month is a bad idea, as you will end up wasting quite a substantial amount of food. Equally, if your kitchen doesn’t have the right amount of space to comfortably cook such vast amounts, cut down on the days you are prepping for. You may very well be the sort of person who can meal prep on a Sunday, and also indulge in a little mid-week prepping too. Do whatever feels right for you, and don’t stress yourself out by trying to achieve unrealistic goals. The more you stress, the more tempting it is to talk yourself into that take-away on a Thursday night. Keep things simple, and achievable.
Mix it up a little bit
Lastly, variety, as they say, is the spice of life! Eating the same thing day in, day out, can leave even the most benign of palates a little jaded after the fourth day of chicken and broccoli with rice. If you find this to be the case, simply prep two or more different meals at a time, and interchange the dates upon which you unfreeze them. If you meal prep for two weeks at a time, there is no reason why you can’t have 3 different meals, 4/5 of each type, and eat one of each before repeating the cycle. This will keep your lunchtimes interesting, and stop that nagging little devil who sits on your shoulder, willing you to break your healthy habits and run off to the chip shop.
Don’t forget to prep those snacks
You may be an absolute whizz at prepping those lunches, or perhaps you are ‘prepping royalty’ when it comes to the evening meal, but often those of us who are trying to eat as healthy as possible will still buy the odd snack from time to time. While there is no need to be too militant in life, there is also no getting away from the fact that those fruit and veg snack packets that have become so popular with the health-conscious consumers out there are exceptionally expensive for what they actually provide. For the price of one fruit salad box at a convenience store, you can often buy a couple of big bags of fruit and veg at your local market. Are you really prepared to pay these companies merely to cut up your healthy snacks, and then package them in one-use plastic bags or containers? So the final pitfall to avoid is simply to stop forgetting about those snacks! It only takes a few minutes to wash and slice up some fruit and veg, so before you head out for the day and plan on picking up a little snack bag at the supermarket, do yourself (and your bank balance) a favour, and plan ahead!
Once you get into your natural rhythm, meal prepping becomes second nature to most of us. A little planning is all it takes to provide you or your family with a great tasting, balanced diet. Sure, a little effort is required on the day of prep, but after that, it is plain sailing for the rest of the week, or month, depending on just how forward-thinking of a prepper you are! If you have any other advice to help those new to meal prep, feel free to share your knowledge in the comments, and for those who are interested, feel free to sign up to our VIP club in the link below.