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There are so many different ways to go about meal prepping. You can choose to prepare tons of meal prep “bowls” and keep them in your fridge for the week, prepare lots of little egg bites ahead of time for breakfast, or even just the act of planning your meals for the week is considered “meal prep.”
When I began my research on preparing my meals ahead of time, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of servings that people were able to produce in a short amount of time. I thought…I could never do this! It’s too much time, effort, etc. But you know what else takes too much time and effort? Cooking dinners on a weeknight. You barely get enough time with the family as it is! There had to be a solution out there.
That’s when I discovered Salt and Prepper ran by Jess who loves cooking AND organization. It only makes sense that her site is beautifully designed to help you get over dinner dread. She even did all the work for you with her downloadable & completely free meal prep packages with instructions and a grocery list included. It can’t get much easier than that! I especially love that you can also narrow down your search with her handy recipe tool. I owe a great deal of gratitude towards this lovely lady. She inspired me to meal prep and develop my own meal prep packages for Keto. Recently, I got the chance to interview her to get some of my burning questions answered about meal prep. Hopefully these will help you out too! Let’s get right into my questions.
How did you get started with meal prep?
I’ve always preferred home-cooked meals to takeout, but after graduating college I realized it was really hard to cook for one person. I was either throwing away food or eating a 4-serving recipe in one sitting. I found meal prepping helped with both of those issues, and I really loved having dinner ready to reheat when I got home from work.
How did you come up with the idea for your meal packages?
After meal prepping weekly for awhile, I thought it might be more efficient to prep more food at once. This required a lot more planning—I needed a good set of recipes I knew would freeze and reheat well, a grocery list that would keep me from getting distracted at the grocery store, and a game plan on how to cook all the recipes at once. These three pieces became “Prep Packages,” and I started publishing them online with the hopes they’d help other people get organized with their meal preps, too.
What do you think is the most difficult thing about meal prep, and how do you overcome it?
The hardest part of meal prep for me is finding the time to get into the kitchen and do it. By the time you get everything set up, cook and portion out five recipes, and then clean (ugh, this is actually the worst part…), it’s a solid half day of work. It can feel intimidating. The Prep Packages help a ton because it helps me stay organized and I always know what I should be doing next. It’s also a great time to catch up on TV or podcasts—it helps the time pass quickly and makes meal prep feel less like a chore!
What tools do you absolutely recommend for anyone starting out with meal prep?
I don’t know what I’d do without my slow cooker—it’s so easy to make a large batch of something that freezes well. I also have a set of clear nesting bowls that are perfect for organizing your ingredients as you’re preparing your mise en place (fancy French word for “everything in its place”). And, of course, a plan. Whether you’re using a Salt & Prepper Prep Packages or something else, it’s important to have a plan before you get into the kitchen.
What is the best advice you ever received?
My dad, a stickler for a tidy kitchen, always told me to “clean as you go” when you’re cooking. It gives you something to do during any cooking downtime and keeps you from having to tackle a mountain of dishes at the end of a big prep.
Who are your influences? Who do you admire most?
My dad went to culinary school but didn’t pursue a career as a professional chef because he wanted to be home with his family. I’m so grateful I got to grow up cooking with him every night at home. His decision reminds me to keep perspective on what’s important and that your passion doesn’t necessarily have to be your career.
What are some surprising lessons you learned along the way?
The entire journey of running Salt & Prepper has been a huge learning experience. It started as a super basic recipe blog, and then was a paid subscription (like Blue Apron) for awhile. Now it’s a recipe blog again. I’ve learned that flexibility is key when you’re figuring out what people want (and what YOU want) when running a business.
How do you balance meal prep with family demands?
I actually see meal prep as a way to spend MORE time with my family. Even though it’s a lot of work up front, it saves time in the long-run. And it’s fun to get everyone involved in big meal preps!
What advice would you give a complete beginner just starting to meal prep?
Take it one step at a time. First, pick some recipes that sound good to you. Then, make a grocery list with all the ingredients from those recipes. Finally, get in the kitchen and cook. Everything else—knowing what foods keep better than others, figuring out how to optimize ingredients across recipes, what meal prep containers you like, etc.—come with experience. Or just check out a Salt & Prepper Prep Package 😉
What are you working on next?
My current Salt & Prepper recipes are definitely more dinner-focused, so I want to start adding some lunch preps. Eventually I’d love for Salt & Prepper to be more interactive—it would be great if people could create their own Prep Packages with recipes on the website. Overall, I just want to learn more about how I can help people meal prep!
Make sure to check out all her great meal prep packages and recipes at saltandprepper.com!
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