Maybe you're a meal prep veteran and you love to have all your food completely packed up and ready to grab at a moment's notice! Or, maybe you're normal and you don't always have the time or desire to have your kitchen stocked like a professional,
If you're like most people, you fall in the latter category, as do I. I have no desire to spend half a day cooking, measuring & portioning, combining, and setting a week long menu in stone.
If you feel the same way, that doesn't mean you're doomed to be successful with your food choices!
Most weeks, I practice what I call "Partial Meal Prepping." Partial prepping means that I prepare things to about the half way point. It goes like this:
> Buy what you want/need for the week.
> Come home and lay it all out on the counter.
> Put away only the things that are already in their most useable form. For example, single serving greek yogurts, milk, etc.
> Tackle the less usable items one at a time, making them more ready to grab & go, or ready to throw into a recipe at a moment's notice. For example, cut watermelon, dice chicken breast, chop lettuce & other veggies, marinade beef, etc.
> Wash & place chopped items into containers. For example wash chopped lettuce and add anything else you want in your salad like other types of greens or veggies. Cook raw rice. Cook meat that will be used in the next few days whether in salads, bowls, sandwiches, whatever. Roast potatoes so they have a shorter cook/re-heat time when ready to eat them. Pre-mix homemade dressings & sauces, etc.
> Put into containers individually & store in the fridge or wherever needed.
Now, when you're ready to eat or combine things a recipe, everything is already in it's most ready & useable state. You don't have to prep anything, you just have to combine it and/or do the final touches (and measure it if you track your food).
This allows for more variety throughout the week, as things are not pre-combined and set in stone. If you choose to do chicken stir-fry one night and a burrito bowl another night, you already have the chicken and rice ready to flavor and combine for either one, and the veggies of your choice ready to be tossed in.
This also allows your family to eat differently than you if you all have different goals. Maybe you and your spouse eat differently, or you and your kids... partial prepping allows for different amounts of each thing or even different combinations with all the same food. You can put things out buffet style and let them pick what they'd like, rather than it all being combined already and unable to easily change. For example, on a night with burrito bowls, you might want lettuce as your base while your husband wants rice as his, or your kids may not want either! No worries if it's all laid out & ready to quickly pull from!
If you are a grazer or a snacker, this preparation makes healthier snack choices much easier. Instead of grabbing that bag of chips that's so easy to open and pull from, your watermelon is already cut up and just as easy to choose. If your fruits and veggies are raw, unwashed, and uncut, the likely-hood that you'll choose them when you are already hungry, and possibly rushed, is far lower.
Check out my partially prepped fridge below!
Everything is part-way prepared, and individually stored. With what is shown, my husband or I can throw together 5-6 different meals, all from the same ingredients combined different ways:
- Taco Salad
- Grilled Chicken Salad with Homemade Caesar Dressing
- Burrito Bowl
- Stir Fry
- Meat and/or veggie omelet
And lots of quick snack options that are better than perusing the packaged goods in your pantry:
- Peppers or Carrots & Hummus or Homemade Ranch
- Greek Yogurt