Just like there's no one-size-fits-all diet, there is no one-size-fits-all meal prep! I thought I'd share with you the three types of meal prep I talk about in my Healthy Mama Meal Prep course to help you decide if one of the three could help you simplify your healthy mama life.
Type 1: Batch Cooking (3-5 hours prep/per week)
How it works:
This is what many people think of when they think of meal prep: cooking all (or most) meals ahead of time and putting them all into containers, ready to go. Sometimes this is just dinners, but for some, this also includes lunches, dinners and snacks.
• Meals are pretty much DONE for the week!
• Eating healthy is easy; little no time spent in the kitchen during the week
• More time in the kitchen during prep (like a lot more!)
• May become redundant (it can be harder to eat intuitively this way when you're stuck to only the options you've prepped, or you waste food)
• Creativity/spontaneity is often lacking throughout the week
Bottom line: If you have a CRAZY busy schedule, hate cooking dinner and have a few hours to spare on the weekend, this might work best for you. It's hard if you are still working on eating intuitively and need more variety/choice.
TYPE 2: Ingredient Prep (1-2 hours prep/per week)
How it works:
The simplest method, in this method, you give yourself a head start for the week by spending an hour or two in the kitchen and prepping or cooking ingredients for the week’s breakfast, lunches, snacks and dinner.
• Meals come together quicker
• Less time spent prepping
• Healthy eating is easier than not prepping at all
• It's really easy to switch meals throughout the week due to time constraints, preferences, etc. *This is the most flexible method of food prep.
• More time spent in the kitchen during the week
• Easier to make excuses to not cook (nothing, or very little is actually made)
Bottom line: This is the easiest, in prep sense as well as allows for MOST spontanaeity throughout the week, however it doesn't help AS much with time.
TYPE 3: Combination: batch and ingredient prep (1-3 hours/per week)
This is the method I use the MOST often. By combining the first two methods, you can create a prep based on what makes most sense for you and your family. I base this on whatever times of the day are busiest, and need the most help. For these, I bulk prep (i.e. something for breakfast, a snack) and I prep ingredients for the rest when I have more time and/or want more flexibility (i.e. dinners and lunches)
Bottom line: With this method, you can prioritize your busiest days/meals and make the most of your meal prep without taking the whole day.