The concept of prepping all your meals at once so you don't have to worry about it during the week? Awesome in theory—until you think about all the time and energy you have to put into doing it over the weekend instead.
If meal prep seems daunting or just doesn't get you excited for one reason or another: first, you're not alone, and second, know that it doesn't have to be like this. Here are some easier—and more fun—ways to get into planning and cooking your meals in advance, so you can actually stick with it (and enjoy it!).
Get Containers You Love—and Plenty of Them
If your plan is to prep all your meals in advance, well, you're going to need a lot of Tupperware. Get good, sturdy containers that will last and are easy to take care of, and make sure they're ones you're actually excited to use (as in, don't just grab flimsy plastic ones that will be hard to clean and that you won't care about after a week or two). Also be sure to get enough containers for the week so you can portion out all of your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks.
Getting containers you love and that aren't a hassle to use and take care of will keep you enthusiastic about your meal prep process, and make the whole thing frustration free. And don't just focus on the actual food containers—that includes a lunch box or bag for taking your food to work with you, so make sure it's something you won't mind carrying around with you every day. (Even better if you can find one that suits your design tastes, so you'll actually like bringing your lunch with you every day!).
Find Recipes You're Actually Excited About
Cooking the same boring foods over and over again is a surefire way to make you hate prepping your meals in advance. You won't be excited to cook, you won't be excited to eat, and you'll probably lose interest pretty quickly as a result. To make meal prepping more fun—and make yourself more likely to stick to it—try looking for new recipes that you've never made before. Just make sure they're recipes that will store well throughout the week, or that can be frozen. Browse Pinterest, search food blogs or try out a new cookbook to find new dishes that you're actually excited to eat throughout the week, and it'll make all that cooking and planning ahead totally worth it.
Use Pre-Made Foods Whenever Possible
If the time and energy required to do meal prep are what make you hesitant to try it or make it challenging for you to stick to it, try incorporating shortcuts into your routine. Buy pre-made foods, like a rotisserie chicken, and divide it up for the week rather than cooking chicken yourself. Stock up on frozen vegetables that you can steam in the microwave in just a few minutes, get rice that's pre-cooked—just look to the prepared foods section and the frozen section at your grocery store and get creative.
Freeze Meals (So You Can Change Things Up)
Does the thought of eating the same things every day for a week sound totally unappealing to you? Good news: That's where your freezer comes in! You could cook multiple dishes for the week ahead, but if that's more effort than you want to or can put in every week until the end of time, plan meals out of foods that can be easily frozen and saved for later instead, then stock up so you can choose different meals day-to-day.
In order to make it work in the beginning, you'll have to make extra portions, and it'll take a few weeks before you have a stockpile of different dishes to choose from, but then you'll be able to cook one set of meals for the week and swap out some of the dishes with the other frozen meals—that way, you won't be eating the same things every day. The meals you make each week that get swapped out go in the freezer for future weeks, and then all you have to do is defrost and enjoy.
Tie It To Something Entertaining
If you avoid meal prepping for the simple reason that you just find cooking and portioning out your food for the week boring, try tying the process to something you actually actively enjoy. Can you watch TV or bring your laptop to stream shows into your kitchen? Catch up on your favorites while you do your meal prep. Love listening to podcasts? Try listening to new episodes while you cook. If you're more of a music lover, play an album or a playlist that you can sing along to while you get your meals together. Whatever you love, find a way to incorporate it into your weekly meal prep time so you'll actually look forward to it and have a fun distraction. Plus, you can always promise yourself a relaxing reward afterwards for getting it all done, like a post-meal-prep nap or a bubble bath. Doesn't sound so bad anymore, does it?