The Biggest Mistake That Ruins Good Meal Prep Vibes

Meals prepped in black containers
Meals prepped in black containers - po_com/Shutterstock

Meal prepping is worth doing for a lot of reasons. Besides saving you time and money, it may improve the quality of your diet by helping you choose more nutritious options and a wider variety of foods. Even spending time preparing dinner is associated with eating more whole foods. Homemade meals are generally better for your well-being because you know exactly what you're putting in your body. Meal prepping will help you avoid eating a sad desk lunch or overpriced salad. It also eases the stress of figuring out what to eat for dinner on Thursday night instead of a bowl of cereal.

But there is one big mistake that can ruin your positive meal prep vibes: Doing too much at once. When you try to take on the entire week at one time, meal prepping becomes a huge time investment -- between sourcing recipes, grocery shopping, and actually cooking the food. Doing it all in one day is not a good idea.

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Don't Try To Take On The Whole Week In One Day

Containers of fresh vegetables
Containers of fresh vegetables - Koliadzynska Iryna/Shutterstock

If you're still committed to meal planning but find it stressful to the point that it's ruining your meal prep vibes, here's some advice -- don't tackle the whole week on Sunday. Really. You don't have to do it all in one day; prepping five days' worth of meals is a lot, even for someone who has all the time in the world to plan, shop, and cook.

Instead, focus on just two or three days at a time. Breaking the week down into smaller, more manageable chunks will feel less overwhelming. You may even want to designate one night a week to use leftovers from the previous day, and one where you're allowed to order takeout. That way you eliminate at least two days of prep.

Another reason to focus on a few days at a time is that some prepped foods just don't hold that well. They lose their appeal after they've been sitting in the refrigerator for a few days. This mostly applies to prepped veggies and some proteins. Starchy foods like rice, cooked pasta, or potatoes hold up better.

Prep Smarter, Not Harder

Family eating a slowcooker dinner
Family eating a slowcooker dinner - Richlegg/Getty Images

Meal prepping can be done more effectively with a few smart hacks. One great trick is to blanch and shock your vegetables, so that they're ready to be cooked quickly in a variety of ways. Another is to use both your fridge and freezer for storage, as some foods will last well for the first part of the week in the fridge, and others can be pulled out mid-week for the Thursday and Friday.

If you are going to prep a whole week of meals on Sunday, your freezer is your best friend. Many comfort foods are freezer-friendly, like chilis, lasagnas, and soups, and are low-maintenance to heat back up. You can store them in a resealable bag so you're able to empty it into the slow cooker and head to work. Or, prep your meals raw and follow a slow cooker recipe. Just be sure to use a meat thermometer and make sure any proteins have reached the proper internal temperature.

So look forward to meal prep day by not taking on too much, and using these tips and tricks. When it's time to eat, you'll enjoy the meals even more.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.