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It happened to me – again. I was all set to prepare my family’s meal on Sunday, only to realize I didn’t have the ingredients I needed. As a working mom of three, it’s hard for me to go to the store on a whim and I panicked quite a bit.
But instead of resigning myself to a week of takeaway and cereal – again – I remembered Walmart+ grocery delivery to your door in the blink of an eye. Within a few hours, I had everything I needed for the week on my doorstep. We all enjoyed delicious nutritious meals for the next few days, and no one saw me sweating.
Ever heard of meal prep, but never really tried it? By regularly preparing meals for the week ahead, you can prevent these kinds of crises from happening in the future, Michael Schulson, executive chef, CEO and founder of the Philadelphia restaurant group, Schulson Collectivee, tells Yahoo Life. Meal prep doesn’t just allow you to have prepared ingredients ready, “it just allows you to really enjoy the dining experience,” Shulson says. And, he stresses, “the amount of cleanup, prep, or cooking you have to do once you’ve already prepared the meal is limited — that’s a big deal.”
top chef star Antonia Lofaso, author of The Busy Mom’s Cookbook: 100 recipes for quick, delicious, home-cooked meals, tells Yahoo Life that meal prep is an important element in getting her to eat healthy foods. “I can’t rely on waking up in the morning not knowing what I’m eating all day and leaving it to chance,” she says. “No matter how much my day moves and shifts, preparing meals, or as I like to call it, ‘eat tomorrow’ is important.”
Lofaso says she will prepare food once or twice a week and put it in containers that she can pull out all week.
chef Judy Joo, host of Food Network’s Korean food made simple, tells Yahoo Life that preparing a meal takes a bit of planning and thinking about what you would like to eat during the week. Then “all your ingredients are measured, cut and sometimes, depending on what it is, also mixed and cooked.”
Of course, some foods are better for preparing meals than others. “Some ingredients are good a few days in advance, others need to be made a few hours in advance,” says Joo.
A few good options to prepare in advance:
Fresh salad vegetables. “If washed and stored in airtight bags with wet paper towels, [these] can keep for a few days, depending on the type of leaves.” Romaine, kale, cabbage, arugula, and radicchio keep well after they’re prepared, Lofaso says.
Vegetables. “Most vegetables hold up well,” Lofaso says.
Most meats. While you don’t want to bread chicken chops ahead of time — they can get soggy — Schulson says things like meatballs and pot roast “actually taste better when made ahead of time.”
Another pro tip, per Schulson: Unless you’re preparing a stew, store your ingredients separately. “If you mix certain things together beforehand, like tomatoes and vegetables, they will wilt,” he notes.
If you’ve never prepared a meal before, Lofaso says it’s a good idea to start. “Meal prep seems like a task, but it pays off in volumes,” she says. “The two to three hours you spend preparing meals twice a week will pay off by being able to provide your body with a myriad of nutrients in a short amount of time, which is immeasurable.”
Want to give meal prepping a try, but need to fill your fridge first? Consider using Walmart+, the retail giant’s new delivery service. Once you register, you get a risk-free trial period for 15 days (upgraded to 30 days if you answer a short survey with three questions). After that, you’ll be charged $13 per month or $98 per year – it’s up to you.
With Walmart+, you can have fresh groceries, perishables and other items delivered to your door at consistently low Walmart prices, sometimes within hours. Stock up on these options to make your meal prep experience even better.
To really beat the meal prep game, you need to have solid storage solutions. This Rubbermaid 10-Piece Set is made from BPA-free Tritan plastic to give you a clear view of what’s inside. A nice extra: they are easy to stack and help you organize your fridge.
Root vegetables such as carrots do very well in meal preparation. You can chop them up and toss them into stews, refrigerate quarter-shaped slices to toss over salads, or make chopsticks to eat when the mood strikes — and they’ll hold up really well over time. This five pound bag lasts more than a few meal preparations.
Shop it: Grimway Farms Whole Carrots, 5-pound bag, $22, walmart.com
Meal prep involves a lot of dice and chop, and you need a cutting board that can handle all that work. This Thyme & Table Plate is made of sturdy acacia wood and has silicone feet to give you real grip. A rim around the perimeter keeps meat juices from dripping onto your counter.
Shop it: Thyme & Table Kitchen Acacia Wood SoHo Cutting Board With Silicone Feet, $20, walmart.com
Nothing says “summer dinner” like skewers on the grill. cut this New York strip steak in pieces and let it hang in a container in your marinade of choice until you are ready to cook it. Then slide it on a skewer along with some vegetables, grill it and enjoy.
Shop it: Marketside Butcher Grass-Fed Beef New York Strip Steak, $9, walmart.com
How do you like your current knife set? If it’s old, keep this in mind: Blunt blades can cause slipping, leading to accidental cuts and scrapes — two things that will slow down your meal-preparation plans. This 23-piece set from Farberware offers plenty of options. It also never needs sharpening, so these tools are always ready to use.
Shop it: Farberware Classic 23-piece never needs sharpening Dishwasher safe cutlery and utensils, $20, walmart.com
A good marinade can mean the difference between a basic meal and something special. This JL Kraft option adds the flavors of garlic and parmesan to your meats and vegetables, and it’s so easy to use. Simply tear open the pouch and pour it over your food. That is it!
Shop it: JL Kraft Garlic & Parmesan Marinade In-A-Bag, $3, walmart.com
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