By now it's probably obvious that we're pretty obsessed with meal prepping at Kitchn. Sure, it might not be as sexy as whipping something up on the fly, but meal prepping provides a host of benefits, including saving you money, helping you eat more healthfully, and ensuring that those hanger pains stay at bay.
While there are a ton of posts out there for recipe ideas and schedules for meal prepping, sometimes the only way to get inspired is by seeing it in action, which is why I love looking through the #mealprep tag on Instagram. Here are a handful of things that become painfully clear about meal prepping when you scroll through.
1. A sheet pan is your best meal prep weapon.
Sheet pan meals are an Instagram sensation in and of themselves, and they give you plenty of leftovers. In one pan, you can get an entire delicious second meal ready to be enjoyed over greens, with rice, or as is the next day. In this Instagram shot, Rachel Mansfield is prepping chickpea granola for the week ahead.
More Sheet Pan Meals
2. Big-batch cooking is where it's at.
Don't start from scratch when you don't have to. Cook dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) in larger quantities, portion them into individual containers, and either eat them that week or freeze. You can usually save money by buying ingredients in bulk and although the initial prep time could take a bit longer, the feeling of simply having to assemble a meal on a busy weeknight versus starting with nothing is pretty excellent.
3. A written plan will take you far.
There's an old saying in theater that goes "amateurs remember, professionals write it down." The same could apply to meal prep. There's no way for you to remember what ingredients you have in the veggie drawer unless you take stock and have a system of remembering. Take the time to write down your ideas and make sure your shopping list or current kitchen stock is in shape, and you won't be left cursing the skies when you forgot to get brownie mix the night before the bake sale.
4. Smoothies can be prepped in advance.
Freeze chunks of fruits and veggies (already peeled, seeded, cored, etc.) and put them into zip-top bags with coordinating smoothie ingredients. When it's time for a quick breakfast or snack on the go, just blend (you can even blend the night before) and you're on your way — no extra thought or time needed.
More on Make-Ahead Smoothies
5. A few rotating meal templates can be helpful.
Sure, it's fun to fly by the seat of your pants, but a lot of us don't have the budget, time, or energy to stop by the local greenmarket on the way home and experiment with ramp pesto on a random Wednesday. By assigning different themes to lunches, dinners, or both, you get a variety of options within boundaries that help you meal plan. Sometimes, a few loose restrictions can be a beautiful thing.