Welcome back to Part 2 of our Meal Prepping guide. This week, we're sharing our favorite products to help meal prep efficiently.
Planning & Shopping:
Brief part 1 recap: We choose our weekly meals together as a family on Saturdays during breakfast. Be sure to follow us on Pinterest for our fave vegan and gluten-free meal ideas - this is where we pull most of our recipes from. We plan one large breakfast (to be portioned out through the entire week), and seven dinners. The leftovers from each dinner get used for lunch the following day. When shopping for groceries each Sunday, I always stick to my list. By sticking to an organized list, our family has saved an average of $150 a week. I definitely recommend finding a printable list or phone app to keep everything organized. We really love the Any.Do app, or this printable from Etsy.
While grocery shopping, I consciously choose products with minimal or no packaging to lessen our household waste. We buy dry ingredients, such as beans, rice, nuts/seeds, oats, flours, etc. from the bulk bins at a discounted rate, and fill up our own reusable dry bulk bags. They even have the tare weight printed on the label for the cashier to use at checkout (so you aren’t paying for the weight of the bag). Since we eat a 100% vegan and mostly gluten-free diet, the majority of our groceries come from the produce department - so we also bring our own reusable produce bags. And, like most of you, we bring our own reusable grocery bags too! We also try to make items from scratch instead of purchasing them in single use packaging - hummus, sauces, yogurt, etc.
Prepping can seem like the most daunting task, but it can also be the most fun. If your kids are old enough, I definitely recommend including them as much as possible. It is a great opportunity for them to learn about the fresh ingredients that go into their meals. In order to prep efficiently, you will need a great set of tools - I’ve listed some of my faves to get you started. What other tools do you use to prep your food?
I wash all produce using a DIY vinegar rinse and veggie brush, and lay everything out on the island in containers, sorted by meal. I then work my way through each bundle, starting with any ingredients that may take longer: cooking dry beans or rice, making sauces, occasionally pre-roasting ingredients to cut down on cook time the night of, etc.
For dehydrating fruits and vegetables to create your own “chips”, fruit leathers, and other snacks.
Storage is key for assuring your prepped ingredients will last you throughout the week. Here is a list of our favorites:
We store chopped vegetables, fruits, and herbs in these glass containers or Rubbermaid’s Fresh Produce Saver depending on what meals they are being used for. I fold a Marley’s Monsters unpaper towel at the bottom to soak up any excess moisture - this keeps your produce crisp and ready to cook! If there are certain ingredients that you know won't last through the week, be sure to eat those meals first. I label each container with the meal name using these dissolvable labels, and keep all the containers for each meal stacked together in the fridge. This makes it easy to identify prepped ingredients when you’re ready to use them.
Pro-tip: While cooking dinner, rinse and dry your prepped ingredient containers so you can use them to store leftovers. We recommend pulling leftovers from your large batch before serving dinner, to ensure you save enough for lunch the next day. You can store it all together, or portion them out separately if your significant other and/or kids will be taking leftovers to work and school.
When chopping fruits and veggies - we toss all scraps into a bowl and add it to our yard debris bin that gets picked up each week. You can also compost these, or freeze them for smoothies or veggie stocks. Because even though fruits and veggies are biodegradable, they take so much longer to break down inside your plastic trash bag in a landfill.
By meal prepping, we’ve eliminated all food waste (everything gets eaten!), cut our grocery bill in half (we only buy exactly what we need for the next seven days), and drastically cut back on eating out (because our meals are prepped and ready to cook). By Sunday morning, our fridge is empty (aside from some condiments and nuts/seeds) and ready to be filled up again!
Pro tip: This is a great time to give your fridge a quick wipe down with Marley’s Monsters unpaper towels and an eco-friendly all-purpose cleaning spray.
Here's what our fridge looks like on Sunday mornings (before shopping for the week) vs. Sunday afternoons:
Be sure to watch our Instagram stories every Sunday to see what we’re prepping for the coming week. Follow along with us and ask any questions you might have so far on your meal prepping journey.