I wanted to share with you my thoughts how food prepping and meal planning and the benefits of doing both. As you know, 2018 was a big year for me. I made a lot of positive changes practicing minimalism and trying to spend less money. While it wasn’t easy, I definitely found many benefits from being super organised.
- Healthy eating – as you can see from my photograph, I often eat with the Slimming World plan in mind. I don’t attend a group. Instead the £5 a week, I save into a tin and weigh myself every Saturday morning. By meal planning healthy meals, prepping in advance means I am unlikely to then pick up the phone for a takeaway or eat a pizza and chips out of the freezer. When I have prepped and defrosted, I then eat that food otherwise it becomes a waste.
- Less waste – Prepping food means batch cooking and then freezing portions to be eaten later. By practicing this method, I basically plan ahead around what is in my fridge and freezer and cupboards and stir up a batch of something. Sometimes a “throw everything in stew” or “fridge soup” is planned!
- Time saving – when you both work full time at home and full time hours means long days out, early starts and later getting home the last thing you want to do is to start a meal from scratch and have to spend a long time prepping and cooking a meal. By prepping in advance and knowing what you are going to eat, you can defrost or prep in the slow cooker and then cooking time is minimal when you arrive home on the night.
- Money saving – by prepping in advance not only are you having less waste meaning less other products having to buy, you are also getting more out of each batch you cook up for freezing for later. You are also saving money on the use of the oven or hob. It is common knowledge that a slow cooker uses very minimal energy so pre prepping a batch of something will be a lot cheaper than prepping that meal 4-6 times over a month. You can also buy in bulk and bigger packs which costs you less in the long run.
- Organised – there is nothing like the feeling of being organised. Especially when working full time or having a family, knowing that you have your food taken care of, your shopping list is easy to follow and you are in and out of the supermarket is a great thing. Moreover, everyone in the house knows what the meal will be that evening – either via a calendar or a menu board at home – so whoever is home first can easily start the meal off ready for everyone.
How to meal plan
Getting started is easy. You need to make a list of everything in your cupboards, pantry and fridge/freezer. The fresh products are where you need to start off. Whatever needs to be used up first needs to be the first meals you plan around and start from there. There are plenty of websites you can type a couple of ingredients and then meal ideas come up. Look at where you can prep everything in advance – can you make these things on a Sunday afternoon and refrigerate or freeze? Can you get more than the portions needed for one night? Can you leave any of it for lunches the next morning?
If you are starting from a place of nothing and need a food shop, plan ahead with what you would like to eat each night and then shop according to that list plus your usual cleaning, drinks and snack essentials. Then you can spend an afternoon baking or cooking everything in advance and stocking up your freezer.
Make sure you take off any evenings that you are going out, have friends round etc.
I buy the plastic reusable tubs (used to by the foil but non recyclable and non reusable) and use these for meal prep and for packed lunches and can be used over and over again. You can easily see what’s inside. If mega batching in advance, you may want to write a date on, in which case you can use a sticky label or permanent marker on the bottom.
My favourite meals I prep in advance
- bolognese sauce
- pasta bake (any flavourings)
- campfire stew (SW recipe)
- chicken curry
- turkey curry
- sweet and sour chicken
- chicken casserole
- beef casserole
- leek and potato soup
- butternut squash and sweet potato soup
- vegetable soup
- chicken soup
- Yorkshire puddings (prefer home cooked so pre cook and then freeze and need warming up)
- Slimming world chips/roasties (cut potatoes to size and then boil with a little salt water/dry off and then in packs – cook when needed)
- Slimming world pasties – cheese and onion/steak and mushroom – made in a wrap – cook then freeze
- Slimming world calzones – tomato and then any flavouring inside – made in a wrap – cook then freeze
- Pizzas – premake your favourites with dough or sw friendly with a wrap then freeze
- boiled eggs – in fridge for salads (I also pre chop lettuce cucumber and tomato and keep in plastic tubs)
Have you got any favourite meals to prep in advance?