Do you have dinner dilemmas? Get organized for the week with these 12 easy and healthy meal preparation tips. Learn to strategize your meal plans, and choose which recipes to batch cook and freeze.
Your servings will be determined by the number of people you are preparing for. Don’t forget seasonal meal preparation plans, which give you tasty year-round recipes. Or, maybe you just need a helping hand with tasty chef-prepared meal delivery. With that in mind, let’s get started!
1. Start small
Meal planning is no different from making any other positive change in your life. A great way to ensure your new habit is sustainable is to start small and slowly build on your favourites. Plan just a few meals or snacks for the week ahead. In time, you will learn which strategies work best, and gradually you can add more meals as needed.
2. Purchase essential food groups
You should make sure that each food group is represented in your meal plan, whether you’re preparing meals for a week, a month, or just a few days. Healthy meals emphasize whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, high-quality protein, and healthy fats, while limiting refined grains, sugars, and excess salt. Think about these food groups as you browse your favourite recipes.
3. Get organized
You’ll know exactly what you have on hand and where your tools and ingredients are with an organized kitchen, pantry, and refrigerator. Great organization is a key component of any successful meal planner. There is no right or wrong way to organize your meal preparation areas, as long as it is a system that works right for you.
4. Have a well-stocked pantry
The best way to streamline your meal-preparation process and simplify menu creation is to maintain a baseline stock of pantry staples that includes the following:
- Legumes: Pinto beans, lentils, black beans, garbanzo beans.
- Whole grains: Brown rice, quinoa, couscous, whole-wheat pasta, polenta.
- Oils: Olive, avocado, coconut, sesame.
- Canned goods: Broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, artichokes, peas, tuna, salmon.
- Baking essentials: Flour, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch.
- Miscellaneous: Almond butter, peanut butter, mixed nuts, honey, dried cranberries, etc.
Don’t forget your spices, though. Herbs and spices can make the difference between a meal that’s amazing and one that’s just mediocre. Not only are spices excellent flavour enhancers, but they also contain plant compounds that reduce inflammation, cellular damage, and other ailments.
Slowly build your collection each time you go to the grocery store. When you keep these basics on hand, you only have to worry about buying fresh items when you shop for weekly groceries. It can reduce your stress levels and help you plan meals more efficiently.
5. Get quality storage containers
The most essential food preparation tools are good-quality food storage containers. Meal preparation can be very frustrating if you have a cupboard full of mismatched containers with missing lids.
Thus, it’s worth your time and money to invest in high-quality containers that are safe for freezing, microwaving, or putting in the dishwasher. Glass containers are eco-friendly, microwave-safe, and available online.
6. Consider a meal delivery service
It can be challenging to always feel inspired or energized to craft and prepare a brand-new menu each week. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you could use a little help and convenience to save yourself from the dreaded dinner dilemmas.
At Citizens Table, you can order healthy, prepared meals if you want to bypass chopping vegetables or if you simply don’t have the time to batch cook and pre-portion your food.
If you are looking to re-energize your tastebuds and introduce yourself to new dishes, eating well doesn’t have to be a chore. Select your favourites from a menu with dishes such as Korean pork-belly rice bowls, salmon couscous, or chicken caprese with roasted vegetables. You will receive a weekly delivery that you can eat immediately or save for a day of desperation.
7. Take an inventory
Before you sit down to plan your meals, take an inventory of everything you already have on hand. Make a note of any specific foods you need to use up by going through your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator. Doing this will help you to move through the food you already have, and it cuts back on unnecessary waste.
8. Create a weekly meal plan
Prioritize a weekly meal planning routine into your lifestyle. Dedicate time to crafting a healthy weekly meal plan, which takes the effort out of a daily ritual of scrambling for a meal idea.
Estimate a block of a couple of hours (such as on a Sunday) for preparing food items ahead of time or pre-portioning meals and snacks. Regardless of your planning strategy, the key to success is making the time and staying consistent.
9. Avoid shopping when hungry
Don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry, period. We have all made impulse purchases that we regret later. Having a list helps you stay focused and curbs the temptation to buy food that you don’t need or picked up just because you went down the dreaded snack aisle.
10. Batch cook
Batch cooking refers to preparing large quantities of individual dishes for the purpose of using them in different ways throughout the week. This is a convenient preparation method if you don’t have much time to spend cooking.
At the beginning of the week, make a big batch of quinoa or rice and roast vegetables, tofu, or meat to use for salads, stir-fries, scrambles, or grain bowls.
11. Pre-portion your meals
An excellent meal preparation strategy is to pre-portion your meals into individual containers. This tactic is perfect for consuming a measured amount of food. Popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts, it’s a great way to track your daily intake of calories and nutrients. It’s also an excellent method for goal-oriented diets such as keto or low-calorie meals.
Prepare a large meal that contains at least 4-6 servings, and portion each serving into individual containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer. When you are ready, simply reheat and eat.
12. Wash and prep fruits and vegetables immediately
If your goal is to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, try washing and preparing them as soon as you get home from the farmer’s market or grocery store.
Finding a freshly prepared fruit salad or some celery sticks makes it so convenient for ready-to-go-to snacks. Setting yourself up with healthy choices makes it easier to avoid reaching for potato chips or cookies just because they are quick and easy.
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Not everyone’s meal planning and preparation processes will look the same. However, being prepared and having the wisdom to know when to scale back will improve efficiency and can help you stick to your long-term goals.
Remember, don’t be afraid to acknowledge when you could use a little help. With meal delivery from Citizens Table, you can save yourself from the dreaded dinner dilemmas. For more information and tips, you can call Citizens Table at 604-330-0708 or contact us online.