So I was telling my aunt about how I meal prep and she looked at me like I grew a second head and my mom pointed out I essentially engineered my way into meal prepping so I wanted to share it with you.
Why meal prep?
When I started:This is kind of embarrassing but when I first started I would throw some meat, veggies, and broth in my crockpot put it on a time, and hope for the best for my week’s worth of food. Especially when you consider this is my mom. I knew how to make a couple of things, like bacon in the oven. Growing up I didn’t like cooking because my mom was so good at it. Upon entering college and eating dorm food, it caused me to get 3 pages worth of food allergies. There goes my meal plan.
Instant Pot enters the fray:Eventually, I got an Instant Pot and my mom / Pinterest taught me how to make a couple of things in it and that turned out better. My allergies were also significantly less at this point–just gluten and dairy. Cooking my own food probably helped with that. But I found that I was making the same foods all the time which is boring.
Instead of prepping for a week’s worth of food, I thought I would save myself time if I meal prepped for a month’s worth of food and had freezer meals to pull out and microwave at my leisure. This helped my roommates who don’t meal prep much have more fridge space. So now meal prepping takes me about 8 total hours. About 1 hour to plan what I’m making and make my grocery list, 1 hour to do all the shopping, and 6 hours to do all the cooking. I do shopping and cooking on the same day.
What to plan for meal prep:
The most essential piece for any meal prepper is your boxes. I would recommend if you’re going to start doing freezer meals with me, to have a way to mark what boxes contain what. Washi tape + sharpie works well. I’ve mentioned my mom and Pinterest as great resources but another one I like is Supercook because it allows you to put in everything you already have to generate recipes. I like meal prepping a month’s worth because that’s 4 breakfast recipes (one for each week), 4 lunch recipes, and 4 dinner recipes which allows for more variety in what you take out every day. Especially when lunch and diner recipes are often interchangeable.
6 hours to make 12 recipes sounds hard but it’s not, it’s just a lot of multi-tasking. I strategically choose recipes that have a variety of ways to make them. That way I can have something in my crockpot, something in the instant pot, something in the oven, and something on the stove all at the same time. Crockpots take the longest so you start that one first, then either instant pot or oven, then stove. I always have 2 cuttings boards out for meal prepping, one for meat and one for veggies. You find a rhythm and it gets easier. As you finish one recipe, you clean and package up the food while you wait for something else to finish.