While growing up, my mother kept a professional life and ran the home without any domestic help. It was tough on her, but she pulled it off by cleaning and bulk cooking during weekends. By the time I was a teenager, preparing meals in bulk during the weekend became a household routine.
Running my own home now, I have adapted my mother’s home keeping routine with a few tweaks here and there. With my flexible work hours though, preparing meals in advance tend to happen more during the week than on weekends. But the principles remain the same.
Apart from the inconevenience my mother went through, I have seen that planning meals ahead is important if you want to eat right, reduce waste, and relatively control your food sources. Regardless of your work schedule or home arrangements, you can make meal prepping a little easier with a few of my tried and true tips.
Invest in proper storage
To get your meal prepping right, you have to create a storage structure. You’ll need a good functional refrigerator and freezer (or two), matching storage containers of different sizes, Ziploc bags, and a relatively stable supply of electricity.
Create a meal plan
Have a specific plan for all three major meals for every day of the week. Write down a food timetable to help you and other members of your household know exactly what to prepare/eat for every meal. Taking the guesswork out of what to eat helps you purchase and cook accordingly.
Shop and cook in bulk
Set aside a day or two during the week or even the month to do your bulk shopping and cooking. Stock up on semi and non-perishables like tomato paste, rice, and oil. Prep ingredients for meals that don’t keep very well. Wash and chop up your fresh veggies and store them in small bowls for single use throughout the week. It not only saves you time and energy, it also saves you money.
Include variety in your meal plan
Reheating bowls of the same meal get old pretty quickly. Try not to plan the same meal more than once in two days. You can also review and add new recipes every few months.
Label each packed container
Transparent containers are better for easier identification of your stored meals. But it also helps to label each container of food or prepped ingredients before storing them in your freezer so that someone doesn’t eat blended pepper instead of stew. Lol.
Cook lots of soups, stews, and sauces
You might not really want to boil yam and white rice in bulk if you are a little finicky about freshness. But you will always be happy to find a small bowl of your favourite soup or sauce for a quick meal after work. And stew? You’ll always need stew.
Wrap vegetables in paper
Wrap your chopped up and packed vegetables in an extra layer of paper before refrigerating or freezing. This will keep them from ‘cooking’ further in the freezer and looking soggy/unappealing.
Pre-pack healthy snacks
You can wash and pre-pack healthy snacks like apples, garden eggs, and carrots in small Ziploc bags to carry on the go.
I hope you find these tips useful. Feel free to also share your tips in comments below.