Meal prepping — putting together the week’s meals ahead of time — has been a popular planning method for several years.
According to Canada’s Food Guide, it’s an effective way to save time, reduce portion size and help reach nutrition goals. It can also help save money and reduce food waste.
When it comes to meal prepping, it is important to start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for an entire week at once can be intimidating at first.
The Food Guide said, “There is no right or wrong way to plan meals. You can plan for the whole week ahead, or you can plan for a couple of days at a time. Do what works for you.”
To reduce anxiety around meal prepping, start with a schedule. For example, prepare meals on Mondays and Tuesdays, or prep lunch every day and cook dinner at home.
Set aside a day to prepare your food for the selected days or meals.
Get recipe ideas ahead of time
One way to make meal prepping simpler is to choose recipe ideas beforehand.
There are hundreds of bloggers and websites to take inspiration from. This advance planning will help you cut down on food waste and unused grocery purchases.
Here are some recipes from Ontario food bloggers:
- IsThatSoh, a Toronto-based blogger, has a Penne Alla Vodka recipe that’s easy to prepare, freeze and eat throughout the week.
- Ottawa-based food blogger Taste and Tipple has a pumpkin soup recipe that’s easy to make, store and eat later.
- Time for Grub, a Niagara-based food blogger, has a cucumber and glass noodle salad recipe.
Once you’ve made your schedule and picked your favourite recipes, it’s time to go grocery shopping.
The decisions you make at the grocery store can influence your eating patterns. Stocking your kitchen with healthy food makes it easier to prepare and eat healthy meals, according to the Food Guide. If you tend to buy highly processed foods, this will cause you to eat unhealthier meals.
Grocery shopping also helps you to rely less on fast food and food from restaurants.
Meal prepping can help you to plan for food that’s on sale. If certain vegetables are in season, you’ll be able to save money and get higher quality produce. You’ll also support Ontario farmers.
Don’t have time to hit the supermarket? There are many grocery delivery services in Ontario, such as Voila, Grocery Gateway, and Instacart.
Meal prepping means you will want your food to be appealing days after cooking.
Make sure you have a good selection of storage containers. Glass containers keep food fresher and tastier for a longer period of time. Plus, they’re microwave and freezer safe. They are also nonporous and won’t absorb stains or the smell of food you put in them. Glass containers are also eco-friendly and help reduce waste.
Select a service
If you’re not a cook, there are healthy meal prep options for you to choose from.
- Ontario-based meal prepping service Meal Pro can deliver to your door.
- Clean Plates Canada provides pre-prepped meals using locally sourced ingredients from Ontario.
- Meal Fix Canada, based in the Greater Toronto Area, delivers pre-portioned healthy meals every Sunday and Wednesday.