Meal prepping can help you save money and stay healthy, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. If you’re not careful, you can end up wasting time and money trying to meal prep when it doesn’t make sense for your schedule or lifestyle. While some meal prep mistakes are obvious, others sneak up on us if we don’t recognise them at the moment, so here are six common meal prep mistakes you should avoid.
Mistake #1: Overdoing it on Sunday
This is a common mistake people make because they think it will help them be more efficient throughout the week. In actuality, it just makes dinner time really stressful and chaotic. Once your week has started, don’t worry about cooking all of your meals at once—it’s not necessary!
Focus on prepping one day a week and making enough food for three days’ worth of meals. If you prepare too much food on Sunday night, chances are good that you’ll end up throwing away food that spoils or just gets left in the fridge.
Mistake #2: Choosing the Wrong Cooking Method
Certain cooking methods like frying and grilling can easily add tons of calories, fat, and sodium to your meals. If you’re trying to lose weight safely, it’s important that your method doesn’t contribute unnecessary calories or additives.
Try baking, boiling, or poaching instead. All of these methods use minimal or no oil and provide added flavour without all of those additional side effects. Avoid this common mistake and make sure your meal prepping efforts are worth it!
Mistake #3: Failing to Have Enough Leftovers
Have an abundance of leftovers in your fridge (but don’t overdo it) so that, if you’re feeling too lazy or busy to cook later in the week, your choice isn’t between eating out and going hungry. Prepare enough for at least two meals every time you cook a big batch of food.
That way, as long as you don’t mind reheating yesterday’s dinner (or lunch), it will be there for whenever life gets in your way. Sure, takeout is easy—but it costs a lot more than cooking just one extra dish and having two meals ready!
Mistake #4: Failure to manage time
Meal prepping is a great way to make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet each day, but it’s also important not to go overboard with your food planning. Planning and preparing a healthy meal should take between 20 minutes and one hour for an entire week’s worth of meals—not much longer than that!
If your meal preps are taking longer, it might be because your dinners are too big or because you’re trying to prepare 100% from scratch instead of using convenience foods or leftovers. Do take some time on weeknights to figure out what about your meal plan is slowing things down.
Mistake #5: Not adhering to a Structure
Some people just wing it and think there’s no real structure, and they waste a lot of time and money. In addition, even though they’re cooking for themselves alone, there are only so many things one person can eat within a week. Structure is important in order to make sure that your food doesn’t go bad before you get to it.
You might not want to follow another person’s plan 100%—that would be boring! —but following a rough outline can help reduce waste and keep grocery costs low. It also allows you more time for yourself instead of doing all that planning and shopping.
Mistake #6: Not Including a Variety of Flavours and Textures in Each Meal
When it comes to prepping meals, some people have a tendency to default back to just the basic stuff like chicken breast and quinoa. While these are healthy options, they aren’t as exciting as exploring new things that pack tons of flavour. This can also help prevent boredom throughout your day and keep your diet full of variety.
To avoid overusing food flavours and textures, set a goal for each meal, such as including vegetables in each one or using a different protein source, such as beef or seafood. You’ll be surprised by how much more exciting your lunches are if you choose two or three random ingredients instead of reusing your go-to staples!
That being said, there are definite advantages to having prepared meals on hand for those crazy days. Planning ahead like that can help keep your diet on track and is a good way to make sure you’re getting in all of your servings. There are plenty of ways to approach it—so experiment and find what works best for you!
Just remember to take these tips into consideration, and come up with a system that will make your life easier as a whole. Also, for everything you need for healthy meal prep, check meal prep delivery services in your area.