With the start of a new year, people tend to focus on healthy eating and new resolutions. Here we are going to take a look at meal preparations ideas for this New Year. Meal preparation involves choosing the type of meal preparation you are going to use, make a plan, take stock and shop and prepare and store.
Types of Meal Prep:
There are different types of meal preparations to choose from: full make-ahead meals, batch cooking and freezing, meals for one and ingredients preparation. It is important to choose the most suitable one for you, and from there you can efficiently plan for your meals.
- Full make-ahead meals: This is cooking an entire meal ahead of time and storing it in the fridge or freezer.
- Batch cooking and freezing: This means making multiple meals, portioning and storing them.
- Meals for one: This is preparing food and then portioning it into single-serving containers.
- Ingredients preparation: This involves prepping part of the meal ahead of time, such as chopping vegetables, mixing spices or marinating meat ahead of meal time.
Make A Plan:
Planning ahead is essential to meal preparation. You need to choose your meal or meals to prep, decide the menu and plan time to prep. How many days and what meals to cook is the first thing to plan. With meal preparation you should keep the recipes simple and something you have made before. It is also very important to make enough food to have enough meals prepared for the amount of days you have decided on. The main reason people chose to meal prep is to become healthier. To ensure this, you need to considered your meal choices and prepare balanced meals ahead of time. When choosing your menu, you should consider how you will reheat the meal when you eat it, making too many meals that need to be heated in the oven can take up more time so the best way to work around this is to make meals that use varying cooking methods: oven, stovetop and microwave.
Take Stock and Shop:
Once you have decided on your menu, you need to then plan your shopping list. It is important when making this shopping list to stock up on the staples for each meal you are preparing. It will make meal preparation easier in the future. A shopping list is vital for meal preparation. By checking what you already have stocked up, you can make a clear list of foods you will need to cover your meal prep. This will mean that you should only need to go shopping once a week. The containers you use for your meal prep should be of good quality, airtight, leak proof, freezer safe and microwaveable.
Prepare and Store:
Once you have planned and stocked up for your meal prep, then it is time to start making the meals. To start this you should schedule time each week to make your dishes. Also, you need to keep in mind how much space you will need for your storage as well and planning space for your meals and ensure that they have been refrigerated or frozen properly. Once your meals are refrigerated you will need to use them within 3-4 days and with frozen meals, they will need to be used 3 to 6 months after they were made. It is important to also remember to only reheat your meals once after thawing. Once you have your meal prep done, you can then enjoy the extra time that meal prepping has given you.
Meal Preparation Food Safety Tips:
There are 5 meal prep food safety tips that everybody should consider.
1. Organise your fridge, freezer and pantry. This will help you to keep on top of your meal prep and get new ideas for future recipes.
2. Smart labelling will help you to ensure that you use your meals within the right amount of time from when you cooked them.
3. Storing your food properly in the fridge will make sure that your fridge is working efficiently and you should make sure that your ready to eat food is always stored above your raw or thawing food.
4. Thaw food safely. Food should not be left to thaw at room temperature overnight; it should always be left to thaw in a fridge.
5. Reheat food properly. Once the food is properly thawed, it can be reheated several ways. For smaller or single portions of food, you can reheat in the microwave. For other meals you may need to place the dish in a saucepan and reheat it stovetop. Some dishes may need to be reheated in the oven.
It’s vital when preparing for a healthy eating programme that you are organised in your meal preparation, to make the journey as stress free as possible. There are many ways to approach food preparation but we’d like know, what are you top tips to help guide a beginner for food preparation? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn or check out our board on Pinterest!