Meal prep is simply the art of preparing meals ahead of time. A fantastic idea on paper but many find it challenging to execute most of the time. Some are so consumed by their careers that there’s no time to step into the kitchen. Others can’t handle the kids and cook at the same time. Then there’s the lot of non-kitchen enthusiasts. Yet, at the end of the day, you’ll need to eat.
The bitter truth is that meal prepping in itself is not a problem, the problem is finding the time to do it.
Enter time blocking. A simple approach that is certain to increase your productivity. All you need is a calendar, which you already have on your smartphone or computer.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking refers to using your calendar to create time for your most important priorities. Call it a plan of action, led by your calendar. Your calendar dictates what you’re supposed to do at a given time. With time blocking, you will never be caught like, “what I’m doing next?”, because you already have a program. You will be able to work, cook, spend time with kids, read a book, watch Netflix – all in a well-organized manner.
How is time blocking useful in meal prep?
We eat to live and so cooking is a universal priority. But, you don’t want to eat quick pan-fried foods every time. You want to eat healthily, and healthy foods need time to prepare. That means you have to set aside some time for prepping meals.
So how do you go about it?
Figure out the days and time that best work for you
Mark down the days that you can plan out your menu, go shopping (or do it online) and cook your meals. Set a reminder on your smartphone to keep you in check. Decide if you want to cook your meals all at once or 2 times per week. For a start, give yourself more time than you may need. That’s because you don’t want to get overwhelmed and then give up. Keep in mind that your meal prep is designed just for you, to suit your lifestyle.
Plan your menu
List down the foods you want to eat during the week. That will help eliminate three common issues:
- What am I going to eat today?
- The need to get fast food because you’re running late.
- Ordering lunch from UberEat since you have none.
Think of what you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and don’t forget snacks. Stick to your goto’s or favorites for a start then slowly introduce new recipes.
Obviously, you don’t want to eat the same foods week in, week out, or you’ll get bored. You might find these few tips here useful; 12 tips to avoid getting bored with your meal prep. Remember, your breakfast and lunches should be portable and easy to store. When it comes to dinners, choose whether you want to reheat your meals or have everything ready to go to make cooking super quick
Shop for groceries
The meals are written down. It’s time to create a shopping list. Find a store that will offer everything you need so as to save time. Alternatively, split your shopping trips, shop online or have someone else handle the job.
Don’t forget to stock your pantry with spices and staples. Your meals will only be as delicious as you can make them. A well-stocked pantry will eliminate frequent trips to your local grocery store.
Time to cook
This is perhaps the easy part of meal prep, especially if you enjoy cooking. Many families prefer meal prepping on Sunday because they have more time and there are more people home to help. No problem if you’re flying solo. Simply binge watch one of your favorite shows whilst you cook or psych yourself up with your Spotify playlist.
There are two approaches when it comes to cooking. First one is you cook all the meals for the entire week or for a few days, so that they are always ready for you to warm and eat. The other option is to prep your meals half way then you get to cook them in 30 minutes or less whenever you want to eat.
Do you have the necessary tools? Slow cooker, blender, instant pot, mason jars, storage containers or ziplock bags? All these will come in handy. Our cooking tools can vary but storage containers are a must in meal prep. Learn a few storage tips here; how to properly store your prepped meals. Remember to label your meals accordingly.
That’s it! time blocking and meal prep clearly go hand in hand. The goal is to achieve a healthy eating habit while being in control of your lifestyle rather than going with the flow.
Save the money you spend eating out, avoid last-minute grocery runs, and set time for prepping meals every week.