Meal preparation (prep) is critical for maintaining a healthy and delicious diet. But it’s often ignored by people who are just beginning to become aware of how their diet connects with their consciousness.
Sufficient meal planning entails thinking about a meal on days in advance, and sometimes weeks. Meal prep involves not only planning future meals but sourcing and creating all the ingredients ahead of time.
For the healthiest, tastiest dish, we recommend sourcing local ingredients, making all foods from scratch, and eating as naturally as possible. In this article, we offer a guide for beginners who are interested in this kind of meal prep.
The Abundance Involved in Meal Prep
The first important concept you must understand when engaging in meal prep is the concept of abundance.
Many beginners have never even seen what their food looks like before it has been perfected and finalized. This step makes the initial steps in purchasing and sourcing ingredients all the more bizarre. It can even make beginners think they have over-purchased or under purchased their food.
The key is to remind yourself that the concept of abundance should be your guiding model for decision making.
Healthy eating leads directly to creativity in the kitchen. You can only achieve this if you have every possible ingredient at your fingertips. And more importantly, you need extra ingredients available in case inspiration strikes.
Many chefs assert that their signature dishes arose spontaneously. But the process happened when they had access to more spices, sauces, meats, vegetables, and fruits then they had originally anticipated. There’s nothing worse than suddenly having a brilliant idea and then having to halt its fruition due to insufficient resources.
Other Benefits of Abundance in Meal Prep
Having an abundance of ingredients makes you more dynamic if you are preparing food for a group of people. Often, more guests attend the event than they initially anticipated. So you want to make sure you always have enough food available to accommodate the entire group.
Even if the main entrée is gone, you still want to have enough food leftover to accommodate a stray guest. This step could mean quickly creating something from scratch or drawing from the leftovers pile. Regardless, as long as you continuously err on the side of caution and abundance, you will never run into this kind of problem of scarcity.
Embrace the imperfection
Additionally, as a meal prepper, you’re not perfect. In fact, one of the characteristics of a versatile meal prepper is the ability to be flexible, go with the flow, and disconnect yourself from past mistakes. In this sense, you want to embrace imperfection within the culinary process and realize that each flaw is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Many chefs maintain their stringent standards even when they mess up. Still, they do not throw out the affected dish.
Instead, they continue making it on the side and experiment with new tastes, smells, textures. This process is sometimes how the chef even innovates new dishes. Without having an abundance of ingredients available to draw from, the chef might never have the ability to transform an imperfection into an innovation.
Lastly, one of the most critical elements of food prep is sampling the dishes before you serve them. This step entails individually doing this. But you should also seek the expertise of other guests and chefs. While this is rarely a significant sacrifice, it still means that you shouldn’t follow the recipe exactly. Instead, it’s essential always to manifest an abundance of food, as this will ensure that you have plenty available for tasting before finalizing the dish.
What to Make for the Meal
The concept of abundance is important to integrate. However, it’s less important than the decision of what meal to even make in the first place. Sure, you can engage in abundance with regards to the cooking process. But if you’re recipe and ideas are insufficient, then the resultant meal will be compromised, regardless of your abundance.
The key to making meals is to engage in balance at all times, even when trying to pull off something more peculiar or indulgent.
This balance is essential both within each dish as well as throughout the entire meal.
One way that you can achieve this throughout the entire meal is to ensure that there is a variety of food options available. This step will make the meal less stressful for guests with dietary restrictions. Just make sure when you are deciding on what to make to include vegan, vegetarian, and nut-free options.
Get feedback from your guests
You can allow guests to note with the invitation if they have any dietary restrictions that you need to accommodate. Furthermore, some meal preppers even go as far as listing the ingredients in each dish. This process assures that guests can be informed before they take their first bite. You can utilize all of these possibilities. However, you should always keep balance in mind. If every ingredient is painstakingly listed, it might detract attention away from the real purpose of the meal. The real goal is to unite your guests with delicious, healthy food.
Lastly, you should emphasize a balance between the meals and the seasons and time of day. You should consider what food is appropriate for each time of year as well as what guests might enjoy given what time the gathering takes place. There’s nothing more off-putting about hosting a dinner party that features warm soup and dense bread during the summer, when food is ideally cooling, light, and juicy.
You might fall into some of these traps during parts of the meal, but not the entire meal. Everything is okay as long as the meal as a whole is balanced. You should also be sure that you follow each inappropriate dish with something redeeming.
Where to Purchase Ingredients for Meal Prep
Now it’s time to purchase the necessary ingredients.
Many meal preppers neglect this step of the culinary process. They choose instead to hire people to buy their food for them. Or they approach this step half-assed by sourcing food only online or from inappropriate locations. This problem can lead to compromised meals formed from lower-quality ingredients.
The process for creating the meal begins before the food is even purchased. You continuously alter the final dish and transform it as you consider new ideas. Most preppers will go to the store with a sense of what they are getting. But it’s still always important to stay flexible and allow the creative process to shape your decision making. You should be knowledgeable about all the grocery stores in your area, as this will enable you to seek the right location for sourcing your ingredients intuitively.
We recommend sourcing as much food as possible from the local farmer’s market. This food is usually fresher and tastier. Also, you can inquire as to what foods are organic, which is another factor in healthy eating as well as delicious dining. Organic foods are often grown in more nutritious soils, making them dense with vitamins and minerals as well as riper and sweeter.
Furthermore, by buying from the farmer directly, meal preppers can ask about advice on how to use each food, which could lead to new ideas in the kitchen. This step could influence the entire meal, making the farmer an essential player in the process. Thus, it’s crucial to have a firm idea of what you will be making, but also to invite feedback at all times.
Lastly, individual farmers can offer special discounts if you buy food in bulk. This perk might be ideal if you are on a budget or are hosting a large party.
What to Purchase Online for Meal Prep
Depending on what you make, some ingredients cannot be found at the local Farmers Market, or even local stores for that matter. Or, if you can find these rarer ingredients at local stores, they are often exorbitant, lower-quality, and come in small sizes.
To transcend this obstacle, make sure you create a list of every ingredient you might need and then do your research ahead of time. Make sure you know if local farmers markets or stores can accommodate the quantity or type of food you need.
If not, then the next best option is to purchase the ingredient online. Amazon is one of the most reliable platforms for doing this. However, it’s important to read customer reviews from each product to ensure that you get a good deal. This step is easy on Amazon, given how many customers use the website and leave feedback.
Purchase in bulk
Powders, flours, and items usually purchased in bulk are ideal for sourcing online. You can generally find more specialized forms as well as unnaturally large sizes that are not available in store. This perk might be useful if you are considering hosting a meal again in the future. And it will help if you want to use the same ingredients without having to purchase them again.
Many online distributors are focused only on profit. So you have to make sure you hold each purchase to a high standard. That means contacting the company to get a list of all the ingredients if necessary. You should also ensure that particular food is refrigerated during transit.
It can also mean contacting companies to determine what farms they are using and whether their production methods are organic. You can do this by jumping through a few hoops, usually sending some e-mails, and making some phone calls.
How to Make Food for Meal Prep
Sometimes, the right ingredient or food cannot be found online, in-store, or at the market. In these cases, you might have to make the food yourself.
If you are already an expert at making a particular food, then make sure you don’t get overconfident. You don’t want to skip out on a crucial element of the creation process. Staying humble is an essential part of meal prep, as even a slight error can wreak havoc on the final dish.
If you have never made a particular food before, then the best approach might be to enlist someone’s help. It can be an excellent opportunity for bonding. Teaching someone how to cook a particular food is a great way to break the ice and converse about weightier issues. Just make sure you specify how you want the food to turn out. Many teachers can get caught up in the abstractions of teaching. And they forget that other humans will eventually consume the meal.
Experiment ahead of time
In some cases, you might be unfamiliar with particular food and have to make it from scratch. In these cases, try making a small batch of the food the night before and offering it to close friends for feedback. This step will remove some of the pressure associated with making the food for the first time. And sometimes this can be all that is necessary to loosen a chef up for effectively executing a recipe. By making the dish beforehand, you can discover certain ingredients that would maximize the taste and health of the meal. This process can lead to adjustments during the final cooking.
The key to making food for meal prep is to be as clean as possible. And don’t experiment too much with the recipe. As long as you follow that advice, you will mitigate any potential health consequences associated with making a particular food for the first time.
Vegetable Fermentation for Meal Prep
One easy way to maximize your meal prep is to ferment vegetables ahead of time. You can do this by soaking them in vinegar, water, salt, and any other spices that you want.
This step can reduce some of the time and effort needed to make the final meal. We love this during the summertime because you can eat fermented veggies without any preparation. This perk will give you more time to focus on other areas of meal prep, like cooking or mixing.
Fermented vegetables also make for an excellent appetizer for guests to nibble on while you are finalizing the entrée. Fermenting vegetables is also practical because it forces the host to think well in advance. And that causes the host to think about other preemptive measures to take for meal prep.
Of course, fermenting local vegetables will be freshest. But they will also be easily digested since they grow them in the same soil and air that you inhabit.
One way to provide a foreigner with an introduction to the regional cuisine of your area is to ferment vegetables ahead of time. It will balance the eater’s digestive systems with the local soil and climate, leading to better digestion and energy.
Online Tracker for Meal Prep
Many guests are more concerned than ever with the calories, vitamins, minerals, fats, carbs, and proteins they are eating. However, it’s often difficult to find out the exact quantities of these things in each meal, especially if you are eating a meal prepared for you.
One way that meal preppers can overcome this is by meticulously tabulating the ingredients they have used in an online tracker. Then, you can invite guests to look up the food they ate online if they are concerned.
By preemptively doing this online, you can also direct some of this negative energy away from the actual meal. This way, you also allow for more time for indulgent eating, relaxed conversation, and love.
Some meal preppers have even noted that tracking foods through an online website has allowed them to become more aware of what they put in their body. And it can lead to weight loss and increased energy. In this sense, meal prep deals with the moment of consumption. But it also deals with future moments when we must handle the consequences of our eating.
Our Final Thoughts on Meal Prep
We think meal prep is critical for executing healthy and delicious meals, especially when it comes to serving food for more significant events.
Meal prep is also useful for planning your meals if you are busy or don’t have time during the day to prepare your meals. Many people still like to eat healthy, delicious dinners, which can require significant preparatory measures.
You can work meal prep around your job schedule. Just make sure that you focus on abundance, balance, shopping locally and online, asking your guests their preferences, and fermenting vegetables throughout the week.
Now we’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments section below how you deal with meal prep. And share with our readers if you have any great tips for newbies.