Meal Prep How-To

I used to think that meal prep was a waste of time. I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to spend hours and hours in their kitchen on a Saturday afternoon washing and prepping vegetables. And you can just forget about putting everything into a single serving container. Seriously - I thought you people were nuts!! Until I started meal prepping. And then I realized that "you people" were so much smarter than me, and I had been missing out all along! I also found out that it doesn't actually take hours and hours and hours - if you know what you're doing. And that is why I'm here to share with you my Meal Prep 101 Guide {and free printable!} You see, healthy eating doesn't come naturally. At least not for me. My greatest tendency is to want to snack when I'm bored. Or tired. Or emotional. Or hungry. I'll run to the fridge or pantry and take out whatever I see first. And if it's not already cut and prepped, you can bet I'm not going to take time to. That's why meal prep has become so important to my family.

@@Do you meal prep? Six easy steps for the meal prepping novice@@

So what does our meal prep consist of? After meal planning and grocery shopping, here's the basic formula:

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1. Wash all produce. (This step can sometimes take me the longest, so while I'm doing it, I like to multi-task. I'll typically have some meat browning on the stove or chicken cooking in the oven!). If you really want a reason to judge me, listen to this - I used to think that washing produce was a waste of time. I *might* rinse my fruit and veggies under water for a second or two, but I really didn't take time to disinfect. Now, I use the Eat Cleaner Fruit & Veggie Wash* and I am literally grossed out at the bottom of the bowl after soaking my produce for just two minutes! I highly recommend it!

2. Dry all produce. I actually lay out a big towel and set all washed produce on it to dry. This saves me tons of paper towels and clean-up is as easy as throwing the towel in the dirty laundry basket.

3. Cut all produce. I recommend cutting up everything you can. Whether it's veggies for salads and snacks or ingredients for casseroles. Have extra? Freeze the leftovers. Frozen grapes and blueberries are great treats, and frozen bananas work great in smoothies. Frozen veggies are also great additions to crock pot recipes and casseroles.

4. Bake everything you can ahead of time. Cook any meats that you won't be throwing in the crock pot. Brown hamburger, and throw a few seasoned chicken breasts in the oven. Hard boil eggs. Bake egg muffins for breakfasts (I use 12 eggs (one per muffin pan), and add in all types of veggies (asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, and olives are a few of our favorites)).

5. Store everything. Put all of the veggies/fruits into bags/containers according to their use. We like to store our fruits and veggies in the Rubbermaid Produce Saver* containers. It's amazing how much longer our produce stays fresh after rinsing and storing this way. I also like to go ahead and portion out snacks that we'll be taking on the go. For those who work, this is a great time to go ahead and portion out your lunches, snacks, etc. I even put my hummus In small containers, so that I can just grab a container and a bag of veggies, and don't have to second guess my snacks!

6. Clean up! This is important to us, as we like to have a neat kitchen, but do this step whenever you want... I’m not going to judge!

Do you meal prep? What's your best meal prep advice? I would love to hear from you!

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