Did you know you can dramatically reduce waste by taking just a few minutes to meal prep once a week? It sounds super complicated… and boring. I mean who wants to eat the same meal days on end?
I certainly don’t! That’s why I prep ingredients instead of meals. This gives me total freedom with my meals and I can get them on the table FAST. Plus, I can prevent food all sorts of food waste taking us back to yesterdays challenge 10 tips prevent food waste!
Today, I challenge you to spend at least 30 minutes meal prepping for the week.
It’s day fifteen of the zero waste challenge! We’re officially halfway through the challenge: Only sixteen more days to go!
Now, we’re in the second phase of the challenge. These changes are lifestyle changes like learning to make your own snacks, decluttering your life the zero waste way, and conserving natural resources.
Most of the topics will start getting slightly more advanced for the rest of the challenge before we move into activism and ways to get your community involved, but today we’re talking about meal prep.
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Meal prepping ahead of time can really reduce your workload throughout the week. It will also help you avoid unnecessary “quick fixes” like microwaveable dinners packaged in plastic.
It helps to prevent food waste, and will keep you fed with super nourishing meals! When you meal prep, it’s much easier to eat a diet focused around vegetables because, you’ll have already done all of the hard work ahead of time.
I typically spend 2-3 hours meal prepping. I make it fun. I turn on a tv show or listen to a book or podcast, and then I just start prepping.
For me, meal prep means peeling my carrots, cutting them into carrot sticks, and roasting and sauteeing my in season vegetables. It helps me prevent so much trash and saves time.
If you’re going for just a short 30 minute prep, then get all of your vegetables chopped and stored in clear glass containers so you can see what foods you have prepped and nothing will get lost in the back of the fridge.
Check out my ultimate guide for plastic free food storage.
Whenever I’ve had a super hard day at work, I have so much peace knowing I have so many things prepped. It makes it super easy for me to get a fast and healthy meal on the table.
Having most of the meal prepped, prevents me from going out to eat and/or reaching for overly processed, overly packaged snacks. So just by having a few things prepared, I’m able to prevent a lot of waste.
Today, I’m challenging you to do the same. I think you’ll find this will really help you prevent waste and provide easy meals.
Aside from physically preparing meals ahead of time, it’s also a great idea to sit down and think of how many meals you need to make. Will you be prepping breakfast, lunch, dinner? Do you have any dishes in mind that you like to eat?
I prep by flavor profile, not by meal so I have complete and total control over what I eat and am not beholden to a meal plan. Because the moment someone says, lasagna is on Tuesday… suddenly I don’t want lasagna on a Tuesday… I want tacos.
When you have prepped around flavor profile, you can use the produce that’s in season to create whatever you want. So, in winter time, I might put sweet potatoes, black beans, and kale in my tacos, but in the summer I’ll put peppers and onions and pinto beans. Add a little bit of salsa, cumin, coriander, chili powder, lime juice, and the ingredients transcend the region.
I recommend writing out a list of the cuisines you like to make and eat throughout the week, as well as what core ingredients you’d need to make them.
For instance, when it comes to making Mexican food I like to make sure that I have tortillas, tortilla chips, salsa, beans, etc. on hand. Then I can change the produce to reflect the season.
Maybe you like to make Indian food, American food, Italian food, whatever type of food you like to make - you know how to keep your pantry and spice cabinet stocked so you can make any food your heart desires.
Then, prep the basics. I like to prep several carbs maybe it’s rice, pasta, quinoa, or sweet potatoes. Then I like to prep several proteins for me these will be lentils, beans, hummus. Then I like to prep tons of in season veggies.
Then I can assemble my plate to include all of the important categories. These are the questions I ask myself:
Do I have a protein?
Do I have a carb?
Do I have fiber?
Do I have good fats?
If I can answer yes to all of those questions, then I know that I’m going to have a meal that keeps me feeling full, which can be a challenge if you eat a mostly plant based diet.
take the challenge!
Over the next 16 days, your challenge is to meal prep.
Go ahead and set aside at least 30 minutes to prepare food for the week ahead after you go grocery shopping.
This can mean peeling carrots, boiling vegetables, or chopping up produce (whatever makes your life easier).
You’ll be less tempted to reach for single use packaged items throughout the week if you just prep a little beforehand.
You can also use this as an opportunity to plan out your meals for the week, if you feel extra ambitious.
Will you be taking the challenge?
Just starting out? Have 1,000 burning questions!? Get access to my private Facebook group, where I’ll be hosting weekly lives throughout the challenge and I answer all of your most pressing questions.
I’m the head content creator over at pelacase.com and have partnered with them to create an email version of the challenge. I will be sending out weekly recap letters with Pela if you’d prefer to have this challenge in larger chunks and delivered straight to your inbox.
PLUS! I’ll be sending out a brand new e-book at the end of the challenge called the Game On Handbook. Which is all about individual ways to fight climate change. You don’t want to miss it.