Planning, prepping, and sometimes cooking several days’ worth of meals ahead of time has a number of advantages, from saving you time to helping you get a wider variety of nutrients in your diet. Also since you're planning in advance you can stick to a budget. Cooking at home means you're not eating out or ordering in.
With meal prepping, it’s important to create a plan that works for you. You could prep and pack everything on Sundays, like some people do, but if that’s not your style, choose a day that suits you, or spread it out whatever makes the most sense for your schedule. Flexibility is the key. Here's why you need to try to cook more at home.
1.Home cooked meals are generally healthier than takeout - When you're planning meals in advance you spend time and effort tryiing to plan for the most nutritious options.
2. You can lose weight faster - Takeout meals are almost always higher in calories, and fat than those prepared at home.That explains why meal prepping has been linked to weight loss and obesity prevention.
3.Meal prepping can help you save money on groceries - Once you get into the habit of planning, your grocery purchaes will become more "realistic" and you'll find that there is less food waste. You can also plan a day in the week when you just eat leftovers (we have LEFTOVER THURSDAYS) or cook with whatever is left in your vegetable drawer.
4.You save TIME! You don't have to prep / clean up much. It's not just the reheating of food - a lot of effort is saved! That dread of going home at the end of a long day and having to start planning your family's dinner from scratch can be eliminated!!
5. You reduce food waste - Because you're already cut and chopped up and neatly stored your "healthy" foods you end up using more in whatever meal you're preparing.
TIPS TO PLAN YOUR WEEKLY MENU AND SHOPPING
1- First check your pantry and fridge/freezer. Build your menu around what is already available first.
2- Aim to use up leftovers - either as a stand alone meal or plan to use leftovers in subsequent meals as side dishes or in the mains
3- Avoid recipes that require a special ingredient - unless it's something you cook often like on a weekly basis you will have to store the ingredient and will likely end up wasting it
4- Make a list of your family's favourite meals and work those into the menu plan
5- When shopping look around for sales - esp credit card discounts at supermarkets etc
Here are some practical tips for meal prepping:
- Ginger can be washed and grated and stored in a dry glass jar with a squeeze of lime juice.
- Garlic can be peeled ,grated and stored in a jar.
- Onions can be peeled and stored in a jar ,or slice them and sauté the amount required for the week if you are not cooking the curries ahead .
- Tomatoes can be boiled ,puréed and spices as per curries can be added as per requirement.
- A quick curry base is also possible with sautéing ginger garlic and onions and adding tomatoes once onions are caramalized , this base can be used for meats and vegetables as well and adding required spices as per your recipe .
- Meat curries can be prepared ahead and stored ,and even frozen if ur cooking in large portions they can be divided and frozen to,use at a later date ,or if you prefer the meats can be marinated and refregirated and also be frozen with curry base and required spices .
- Eggs can be boiled and refregirated for up to four days . Eggs can also be made into a sandwich base by adding mayonnaise and stored for a week.
- Rotis can also be prepped ahead and be half cooked and stored in the freezer, the day your menu asks for Rotis remove from freezer in the morning and place in fridge they should be ready by evening.
- Dhal can be prepared dried and stored for upto a week .
- All dry beans can be boiled and cooled and refrigerated up to a week and used as per your menu .
- Rice can be cooked ahead and portioned for the week in clear , clean and dry boxes. Fried rice can be made ahead and stored for up to three days .
- Most vegetables can be chopped ,boiled or cooked into any style that you prefer.
- Potatoes boiled or cooked should be consumed within two days .
- Leafy vegetables should be dried ,finely chopped and stored wrapped in newspapers or kitchen towels. They can be puréed or boiled as per your preparation.
- Vegetable curries can be made prepared ahead without coconut milk or cream andstored ., the coconut milk can be added in whilst heating.
- Mushrooms can be cooked ahead but should be consumed within two days of prepping
- Buy and deseed cucumbers and chop as you prefer and they can stay crisp for up to 3 days.
Vegetables like Eggplant and Bittergourd can be fried ahead and stored and used for sambol
- Pol Sambol with a little extra lime can be stored for up to aweek in the fridge.
- Lunu Miris with a few drops of vinegar can also be stored up to week in the fridge .
- Gotukola and mukunawena also prepared if stored in a dry container can store well up to three days .
- Cutlis can be prepared and layered into rows , portioned and frozen these keep,well for three weeks.
Fruits like mangoes ,pineapples ,papaya,oranges ,grapes ,strawberries can be all peeled cut and boxed for up to four days atleast .
This makes it easy to have fruit salads and desserts as well ready .
In my experience, meal prep has saved a lot of time and has helped with a healthy eating plan, the benefits of meal prep always brings in new ideas of what we can do with our meals with the least amount of stress.