food January 23, 2018

What We’ve Learned From A Week Of Meal Prepping

I rarely talk about food on Gal Meets Glam and that has been a strategic choice I’ve made. I’ve focused very intently on fashion, travel, beauty and occasionally more about me personally. I’m not an expert chef, hence why I don’t talk about recipes. I love food, but as an extremely busy person I’ve found that food has made me more and more frustrated. It becomes an afterthought to my busy lifestyle and without a plan it’s not until I’m riddled with hunger pains or I start to get hangry that I’m reminded about eating. This last second panic eating rarely ever leads to healthy choices, either we eat out too often or I default to eating bars or other packaged foods. So in an effort to feel better about what I was eating every day Thomas and I decided to be more proactive with our meal planning by starting to do meal prepping. We started two Sundays ago and I’m happy to report that we are loving it so far.

 

For those that don’t know, meal prepping is all about arranging your meals so that they are cooked in advance and stored to be consumed over the next couple of days. If well planned, you can use the same base of ingredients to create wide ranges of tasty meals. Based on our research, most pre-cooked foods keep for about 3-4 days. So about twice a week, dedicated meal preparers will have prep days where they cook all of their food.

 

Meal Prep List
Meal prep containers

 

What We Love About Meal Prepping

 

I’m loving that food is becoming less of a stress on my life. So far I’ve noticed I’ve been more energetic throughout the day, especially in the middle of the day, because I have breakfast and lunch on time. With that, I’ve cut down significantly on snacking. I also love how good the food is and that I know what ingredients are in my food. Thomas loves that he gets to cook so much on the prep days but also has nights off from cooking when he doesn’t feel like it or has too much work. And I especially appreciate having a cleaner kitchen more often than not, though our kitchen on Sunday’s looks like a tornado ran through it.

 

What We’ve Learned So Far

 

The prep and cooking days can be exhausting- Well not as much for me but for Thomas. He has spent about 4 hours on both Sundays cooking and cleaning.

 

You have to go to the grocery store with a list- When you’re meal prepping there’s no more walking into the grocery store without a shopping list. We start with a standard list which is super helpful and we are refining it each time we go with additions and subtractions to the list.

 

Make a few versatile sauces that you can continuously use- Good, homemade sauces are an underutilized tool for most home chefs, especially if you aren’t the best chef in the world. We decided that sauces would be a great way to change up the flavor while eating the same foods over the course of a week. When we cooked anything we’d simply use salt and pepper and then apply the sauce closer eating. We started with two sauces, this vegan Tzatziki and a Lemon Tahini.

 

Swap out your Tupperware for Meal Prep Containers and these cute Bento Boxes–  These stackable and reusable glass containers are great for holding lots of pre-cooked food and if you buy the right ones you can even take off the lid and reheat the same container in the oven or microwave. One tip we got from a reader was to hand wash the plastic lids as they may shrink from the heat in the dishwasher. I also bought a few of these bento boxes for assembling my lunches in to take to work.

 

Get the most out of a hot charcoal grill or oven- Thomas has an XL Big Green Egg which can be a little overkill when cooking for two but it’s been incredible for cooking lots of food at once. If using an oven it might be a good time to update your bakeware, we have a few of these sheet pans which Thomas uses all of the time.

 

We love our pressure cooker- I know these last couple of months there’s been a craze about the Instapot. We bought our pressure cooker/slow cooker combo about 2 years ago. We love that it cooks things faster but it also imparts more flavor. We use it mostly for rice, beans and soups.

 

What We Are Still Learning

 

It’s hard without a microwave- We don’t have a microwave and don’t want one so this makes reheating food (if desired) an extra chore. We’ve reheated some items by placing in the oven or cooking them lightly on the stovetop.

 

It’s hard to balancing the right amount of food to buy- It’s always annoying how much food goes to waste after buying groceries. I’m sure most people are much better than we are (it’s hard with travel) but one of our goals with meal prepping is creating less waste. It’s easy to get excited on prep day and cook too much food only to never eat it all.

 

Do we fully prep each meal ahead of time or just pre-cook and store leaving the meal decision up to how we are feeling in the moment?- To us, it’s weird to decide exactly what we will eat for every meal without considering how we are feeling in the moment. But I’m sure the largest savings is from assembling meals in advance. I could always use each night before bed to assemble the next days meals as much as possible, especially lunch which I’m really bad at bringing to work.

 

We are really excited to giving meal prep a go. Even if we adopt it for half the week, we are still making improvements. Is this something you would want to fit into your life? Maybe you already have. What are your biggest struggles with cooking food at home? Have you tried meal prepping and had success? What tips might you have? I’d love to hear from you.

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