5 Meal Preparation Tips

June 6, 2014
When I visited my sister Denise in North Carolina, I was really impressed with her meal planning skills!  She had every single meal that we were to eat typed onto a schedule that she made.  The meals could be moved around, and of course she had some extra meals in mind just in case.  When I arrived, she had some meals ready to go and some were prepped so that we just had to follow a few more steps in order to have a delicious lunch or dinner.  I was amazed that she got everything she needed for the week in just one visit to the grocery store.  I am THE WORST with that!  I don't know how many times I've gone to get groceries, only to come home to realize that I forgot an essential ingredient to a recipe.  I told Denise that I couldn't believe how organized she was told her that I needed all the help I could get and that I might even write a post about this.  She laughed at me and told me that most all of her tips are just common sense, and I guess they are when you think about them, but they have really helped me out so far!

Just one of the meals my sister had planned for us during my stay

1) Create a Google doc for grocery shopping.  I saw my sister's document, and it's genius.  She has everything divided into sections like dairy, meat, produce, etc.  That way, when she shops she can just hit one section of the grocery store and pick up everything she needs.  She also sticks to her list, which prevents her from picking up a bunch of items she doesn't need.  When I would shop, I would just write down a random list and find myself walking back and forth and forgetting items altogether.  Sometimes I would just go to the store with no meal plan in mind whatsoever.  I would leave the store with several packages of processed junk and frozen meals, yuck.  Why would I do that to myself?

As my sister plans a meal, she will look at the ingredients and type them onto her list so that she doesn't forget anything, so that's what I've started to do, too.  The best part is that she saves the list so that all of the staples she needs to buy every week are already on there (milk, bread, etc.) Her suggestion made grocery shopping so much easier for me!  

2) Invest in a Chop Wizard.  My sister swears by this thing and said that it saves her so much time.  A Chop Wizard is on my wishlist because chopping and slicing up veggies is not a task that I find entertaining.  During my short stay, I saw her use her Chop Wizard several times for hamburger toppings, for veggies that were to be cooked in our omelets, and for the pico de gallo she made.  Personally, I feel like sometimes it is a hassle to cut up and slice fresh veggies, so I think that if I bought this, I would be more inclined to prepare meals with fresh produce.

Image courtesy of Bed, Bath, and Beyond

3) Make larger quantities and save the leftovers.  Denise told me that some nights she just doesn't feel like cooking, so she will make extra food the day before or earlier in the week, and then her and her husband will just have the leftovers for another meal.  Of course I have had leftovers from a recipe--who hasn't?  However, I don't think I've ever intentionally made a lot extra in order to get myself out of cooking another meal or two.    Now that she told me this it just seems so obvious, but this was something I was not doing before our little chat!

4) Plan accordingly so that items do not go to waste.  Sometimes my sister will have to change her weekly menu around because she'll notice that an item might be expiring soon.  Her husband says that he takes a lot of the credit for this one and that ever since they were more aware of this issue that they have saved a lot of money.  I've definitely done this before...especially with avocados.  I'll put off making guacamole and then by the time I'm ready to make it, my avocados will be bad, which is just plain wasteful and is throwing money down the drain!

5) Put together crock pot recipes and freeze them.  When Denise doesn't feel like spending a lot of time cooking or when she knows she will have to work over, she says that pulling a bag out of the freezer and putting it into the crock pot is the perfect solution.  The meals are tasty and require no prep time the day she makes them, since all she has to do is dump the contents directly into her crock pot.

I can never get enough tips in this area.  Feel free to share some of your own tips in the comments section--they will be greatly appreciated!
18 comments on "5 Meal Preparation Tips"
  1. These are good tips! I am the worst with grocery shopping because I plan and then I decide I don't want it anymore. I need to get better about it and stick to it!

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    1. I just try to be healthy and buy too many fruits and veggies and then they all go bad before I can eat them up!!

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  2. Meal planning is a part of my weekly shopping routine. The finding of new recipes, going through our pantry and writing down our list down to the chopping and prep of the meal are some how relaxing for me. I love the idea of using google docs to keep track of things. Thanks for the great tips!

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    1. You're not the first one that told me you found it relaxing--I wish I felt the same way!

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  3. I love this! Such great tips, girl!!

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  4. I'm use the crock-pot a lot when meal planning- the recipes are usually super easy, make a lot, and freeze well. I will also double a recipe and freeze half if I know its something we like a lot and eat often. Saves me time for the next time we want it. Never thought about buying a chopping product though- may have to add it to my list!

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    1. Yes, crock pot meals are the best because there are plenty on the simple side and it's easy to make larger portions!

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  5. Meal planning is something I need to do. I often stay with the boyfriend, so having some ideas could be a time & money saver. :] // itsCarmen.com ☼

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    1. If I plan stuff, I tend to eat better, too...the ingredients are in the house and I'm not tempted to just eat the snacks lying around.

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  6. meal planning is SO important!! also, freezing shizz for easy meals is another great one. thanks for sharing.

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    1. I bet you have plenty of advice in this area for healthy meals!! :)

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  7. awesome tips! i'm trying to get better about planning my meals in advance of grocery shopping. i find myself making the meal decisions while shopping which is not the best way at all.
    jenn @ hello, rigby!

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    1. Definitely not!! Also, if I'm starving, I always buy more than I need to and more junk food than if I go on a full stomach!

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  8. Wow this excellent! I did that in college. I planned every single meal down so I wouldn't overspend at the store. But using Google DOcs?! Whoa.. taking it to a whole new level. Thank you for sharing Lisa :) Sounds like your sister needs to guest post on your blog!

    http://neatly-packaged.blogspot.com/

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    1. She actually guest posted awhile back about home decor and her shopping trip to Charlotte. :)

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  9. I am okay when it comes to meal planning. I am the primary cook between my hubby and I because ...he can't cook. He will swear he can but that chicken he made on his first attempt was...not pleasant lol. I usually plan out what I need at the store and what I am going to make and then cook enough for a couple days at a time because I don't have time to cook every day. You reminded me that I have watermelon in the fridge :)

    -Erica

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    1. Yes, cooking every day is so time consuming! I love days when I can have tasty leftovers and just not worry about what to make.

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