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Hack your lunch; How to start meal prepping

With a little planning, you can help control your grocery budget, your calorie intake, and reduce your time cooking and cleaning in the kitchen each day.

Enter meal prep, a food organizational trend involving planning, shopping for, and cooking several days to a week’s worth of meals in bulk.

People often eat unhealthy foods out of convenience, according to an article on the Beaumont Health System website. By deciding and preparing healthy meals in advance, people may be less likely to grab a fast-food burger because their dinner only needs to be reheated! Through meal prepping, people can learn portion control, possibly lose weight, save money, and avoid wasting food, according to the Beaumont Health System website.

To try this system for yourself, start by thinking of some of your favorite meals, look at cookbooks, or find recipes online, according to information from the Mayo Clinic. Once you have a few meal ideas in mind, sit down and plan several days’ to a week’s worth of meals.

Include entrees, side dishes, and healthy desserts, if you want them, in your planning process.

As you plan the week, check your calendar to see which nights you will have time to cook and which nights are busier for you. Scour supermarket sales online to shop for deals and look through your pantry to see what you can craft a meal out of already.

While you plan the menu, write out your grocery list. Plan when you will shop for food and when you will do your meal preparation, which is when you will do most of your cooking, according to an article on the Harvard School of Public Health website.

On the day that you meal prep, start with the foods that take the longest to cook, like chicken or fish. From there, move on to whole grains, such as brown rice, beans, and then to roasted vegetables.

You can also marinate items at this time so they are prepared to be cooked easily.

As you meal prep, you might also consider making foods you can easily prepare with meals or for a snack. Try washing greens in advance to make a salad, hard boil eggs, chop fruit, or cook beans.

Double or triple recipes to save time and eat them on multiple days. Individual meal containers can be an easy way to store food and make enough for each day.

When prepping, label each food with a date, so you know when you should use the food by.

Remember, some foods, including foods with high moisture content, will not freeze well, including salad greens or watermelon, according to the Harvard School of Public Health article.

Once you get the hang of prepping, spice things up so you don’t get bored! Culinary magazine Bon Appétit website offers several delicious healthy meal prep ideas, such as a curried peanut dip with rotisserie chicken, cucumber spears, and roasted sweet potatoes, turkey and bean chili, and chicken and rice meatballs with hummus.


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