Ways to Think About Meal Prep
If the idea of meal prep feels daunting, it may be time to reassess what you view as “meal prep”. From there, there’s more room to see if it’s possible to broaden the scope a bit to feel more applicable and helpful.
There’s really no universal definition of meal prep, which can be both confusing and liberating (if you can lean into the gray area). This basically means you get to decide however prepping best serves you! You could spend all day one day of the week cooking recipes, which is likely the most common perception we hold of “meal prep”. However if that doesn’t seem realistic to you, you can pivot from that and decide on another method. Perhaps batch cooking or ingredient prep is more your style?
Batch cooking refers to making batches of items you know you’ll use throughout the week but not in the form of producing a recipe or full blown meal. This could look like preparing a few proteins such as grilling chicken and baking meatballs; a few carbohydrates such as making rice ahead of time and roasting potatoes; and any other items that help to make ahead of time to save you prep when the time comes. From there you can also mix things up throughout the week with condiments and other toppings/ingredients. You could take the chicken and add it to a taco with corresponding ingredients and then the next day make a chicken Caesar salad with it and have two different flavor experiences!
Ingredient (versus meal) prep is another method that may feel useful to you. It’s similar to batch cooking in that you prepare certain ingredients you know you’ll need throughout the week such as cleaning and chopping any produce and pre-marinating a protein so there’s one less step on the day you’ll actually prepare it. Basically, as the name suggests, using the idea of prep to help determine whatever it is that’ll help you be more prepared during the week.
Another helpful tip when considering meal prep is where you can potentially make extra of something for leftovers. Perhaps you make a recipe one night for dinner and “meal prep” your way into doubling that recipe to have lunch for the next day.
Meal prep is truly open to whatever you need it to be! And can look different day to day or week to week, depending on your needs. Employing some amount of flexible structure can be really helpful, but be mindful of it feeling too rigid and therefore possibly unhelpful. Hoping this helps to support your meal prep journey and overall nourishment of your body!