7 TIPS & TRICKS FOR HOW TO PREP HEALTHY MEALS
If you want to enjoy more freedom in the kitchen, learning how to meal prep can expand the variety of healthy dishes you prepare each week. Explore these meal prep tips to harness the power of your countertop appliances while you explore new recipes and techniques for everyday meals and snacks.
What is Meal Prep?
There are two types of meal prep that can help you enjoy flavorful and nutritious meals every day: prepping the ingredients for meals you’ll cook later and fully preparing meals to eat later. You can learn how to do both types of meal prep using your countertop appliances and following these tips.
Whether you’re brand new to meal prep, trying a different diet or simply looking to add variety to your cooking, learning how to meal prep for the week opens a world of possibilities for your cooking adventures. You can focus on one or both of the methods below to get familiar with planning and prepping meals for exciting eating options throughout the week.
Prepping Ingredients to Cook Later: Prepping your ingredients ahead of time can streamline busy weeknight cooking, since all your ingredients are pre-cut and measured, so all you have to do is focus on crafting a delicious meal to put on the table.
Prepping Complete Meals to Eat Later: You can enjoy fresh, homemade meals no matter how tight your schedule is by preparing larger batches of new recipes and old favorites then portioning them out to store in the fridge or freezer. Double a recipe and save extra so you can grab pre-portioned meals, such as rice pudding, when you’re on-the-go and reheat for an effortless breakfast, lunch or dinner.
TIPS FOR HOW TO MEAL PREP SAFELY & WITH VARIETY
Follow these meal prep tips to ensure you’re developing good food preparation and storage habits. This will help you avoid cross-contamination, reduce the chance of grabbing the wrong items for the dish you’re cooking or wasting food you intended to cook if you only had the time. Meal prepping can also help you expand your palate by exploring different flavors and new delicious recipes you haven’t tried before.
1. Choose Your Ingredients
Plan the dishes you want to make for the week and shop for the ingredients you need. Select fresh foods that will be at the peak of ripeness when you plan to meal prep and be sure to eat or prepare ingredients that are dated within the best-by date.
2. Schedule Prep Time
Meal prep requires a time commitment that will vary depending on your planned dishes. If you have a traditional 9-to-5 lifestyle, Sunday meal prep is a typical time to plan and prep ahead for the week. No matter what day works best for your schedule, developing a routine and sticking to it will help you feel successful so you’ll enjoy the process week after week.
3. The Right Containers
Portioned meals for the freezer should be stored in freezer-safe plastic containers or freezer bags. You can store meal portions in the fridge in whatever style containers work best for your space, though soups, overnight oats, blender salsa and grain salads work especially well in mason jars.
4. Food Safety
It’s important to wash all fresh ingredients like vegetables and fruits as well as some meats before prepping. You should have a separate cutting board for raw meat and be sure that other ingredients are not close enough to touch it. Always wash the board and knife immediately after use with hot soapy water and sanitize the countertop with a surface cleaner or diluted bleach. Before you continue prepping the other ingredients, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly.
5. Storage Space
Before beginning to meal prep, make sure you have the right amount of space in your fridge and freezer to hold your prepped ingredients and portioned meals. A freestanding freezer can give you more room to store soup, breakfast burritos and veggie burger patties, or you can pre-marinate raw meats for future dishes. Learn more about how to organize your refrigerator to make your meal prep easier.
6. Label & Date
To help ensure you don’t waste food or grab the wrong ingredient when it’s time to cook your pre-prepped meal, label all portions, ingredient containers and bags with the contents and the date it was prepared. You can use a piece of masking tape or label, then peel it off before washing. This FDA guide outlines how long you can safely store most foods in the fridge or freezer.
7. Harness Your Small Appliances
To prep meals more efficiently and effectively, use countertop appliances like a food processor or chopper to chop, slice, dice and shred ingredients like cauliflower rice. An immersion or countertop blender can also help you purée soups for quick meals. Turn your stand mixer into your meal prep partner with accessories or attachments that let you spiralize, sheet or rice veggies, purée or juice fruits and vegetables, shred cooked chicken and even make fresh pasta. You can even use your countertop oven as a dehydrator to make dehydrated bananas and other toppings.
TIPS FOR PREPPING MEALS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
Streamline meal prepping and shorten chopping time by using your countertop appliances to efficiently prep a variety of ingredients for multiple dishes. You can create your own homemade meal kits by portioning and storing the prepped ingredients in labeled bags and containers in the fridge.
Use your countertop appliance to:
Slice, dice and rice vegetables for vegetarian meal prep and more
Shred cabbage, carrots and broccoli for slaws
Spiralize and sheet vegetables for healthy pasta alternatives
Grind or mince meat like chicken for homemade meatballs and meatloaf
Knead pizza dough to keep in the freezer
Slicing, Chopping, Shredding & Ricing Ingredients
Prep a wide variety of ingredients using KitchenAid® food processors and choppers. Chop ingredients for salsa or rice cauliflower and other veggies for healthy side dishes. Use the slicing disc to easily prepare vegetables for snacks and the shredding disc to prep vegetables like lettuce for slaws and cheese to add to soups, salads and casseroles. If you have a KitchenAid® stand mixer, you can achieve the same results with the Fresh Prep Slice/Shred Attachment.
Set yourself up for meal prep success with a little up-front effort. Use the KitchenAid® Food Processor Attachment with Commercial Style Dicing Kit to dice vegetables like onions that you can keep in containers or bags in your fridge for salad toppings, quick roasting veggies for pasta or pizza, omelettes and more. For prepping extra-large quantities of ingredients, there are larger capacity food processors like the KitchenAid® 14-Cup Food Processor.
SPIRALIZING & SHEET-CUTTING VEGETABLES
If you want to add low-carb alternatives for pasta such as spaghetti, fettuccine and even manicotti to your dinner rotation, your stand mixer can help you make spiralized or sheeted noodles for a variety of recipes. Make healthy noodles using sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, zucchini, summer squash, beets and butternut squash.
The KitchenAid® Fruit & Vegetable Spiralizer and Vegetable Sheet Cutter attachments let you prep thin and wide noodles that can be cooked immediately or stored in the fridge for up to five days.
GRINDING MEAT FOR MEATLOAF, SAUSAGE, MEATBALLS & MORE
Perfect meatballs, meatloaf and sausage all start with the freshest meat and the right balance of seasonings. The Metal Food Grinder attachment for your KitchenAid® stand mixer lets you grind meats that you can season and shape into meatballs or assemble into loaves that you can either cook immediately to portion for meals or store uncooked in the freezer to cook later.
APPLIANCES TO MAKE MEAL PREP EASY
KitchenAid helps Makers meal prep all kinds of scrumptious recipes with a wide catalog of powerful appliances and attachments. Learn more about how you can make your KitchenAid® stand mixer the heart of your meal prep routine with attachments that serve a variety of ingredient prep purposes.
TIPS FOR PREPPING COMPLETE MAKE-AHEAD MEALS
In addition to preparing the ingredients for cooking during the week, you can also include a few fully-prepared dishes into your meal prep time. Portion these balanced, make-ahead meals into individual or family-sized containers to build a little breathing room into your mealtime.
Harness your countertop appliances and these meal prep ideas for streamlined and deliciously satisfying breakfasts, lunches or dinners. Your slow cooker can help you turn out stews and roasts, and the pasta attachments for your stand mixer can help you make fresh lasagna or fettuccine noodles. The food processor lets you dice and slice vegetables for salads and soups that you’ll portion ahead.
USE A SLOW COOKER FOR STEWS & ROASTS
One of the best countertop appliances for prepping make-ahead meals is a slow cooker like these models from KitchenAid. These come in different capacities and lets you create large batches of recipes like pot roast, chili and pulled pork for sliders to portion and store in the fridge or freezer that you can reheat and eat later.
PORTION OUT SALADS
Use BPA-free plastic or glass containers or even wide-mouth mason jars to portion out salads for the week. When assembling greens-based salads, put the heavier ingredients that might add moisture on the bottom of the container and the washed and spun-dry greens on top.
For vegetable, legumes, pasta or grains-based salads you can mix the dressing with all ingredients, but keep any crunchy toppings like nuts, seeds or croutons portioned in snack baggies or small containers at room temperature to add later.
Fresh homemade dressings for green salads can be made ahead and stored in a jar or container, or even in small 2-4 oz. individual serving containers ready to grab and go.
MAKE A FRESH BATCH OF PASTA
When considering what to make for meal prep, fresh pasta for the week is a great choice even if you won’t cook it right away. Most noodles take just a few minutes in well-salted water at a rolling boil to come to perfect al dente, making it an easy addition to a busy week meal plan. Tools like the Pasta Roller & Cutter and Gourmet Pasta Press attachments for your KitchenAid® stand mixer can help you prep noodles to store for later use in a variety of shapes and sizes.
USE A BLENDER FOR SOUPS
A great make-ahead meal idea is soup that can accompany a portioned salad, sandwich or wrap. Use your KitchenAid® countertop blender or hand blender to create individual or family-size portions of your favorite recipes like broccoli cheddar soup or a roasted vegetable soup. If you make a large batch, you can store portions in the fridge for the week, and tuck extras in the freezer to make future meal prep easier.
MAKE DAILY SMOOTHIES FOR THE FREEZER
Blend up batches of your favorite smoothies to store in containers in the freezer. Move one to the fridge the night before you intend to drink it to begin thawing. Or you can chop and portion all of the ingredients for smoothies to grab and blend with your milk or juice of choice first thing in the morning. Freeze portioned chopped fresh fruit and veggies and dry ingredients such as chia seeds and protein powder in labeled bags or containers.
By incorporating a regular meal prep session into your week, you can give yourself room to try new recipes and techniques while enjoying nutritious meals every day. You can also learn more about how to organize your kitchen to set yourself up for success with your meal prep by using the practice of mise en place. With your refrigerator and freezer filled with delicious options to eat immediately or serve up effortlessly like a pre-prepped meal kit, you can find time to explore even more creative cooking ideas in your busy life.
Explore KitchenAid® tools to streamline your making
Food prep is quick and easy with food processors and choppers designed to help you fall in love with making. Explore stand mixer attachments and blenders that can provide the flexibility you need for weekly meal prep and beyond.
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