Homeowners might have faced the nightly conundrum of not knowing what to cook for dinner. They might look in the fridge, pantry, shelves and freezer to check their ingredients and weigh their options. Unfortunately, they might realize that they lack the ingredients for what they want to cook; in fact they might lack some ingredients for every meal option.
Dinner prep can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially for those who don’t feel at home in the kitchen. However, planning ahead could be a game-changer. In fact, meal prepping promotes energy efficiency and can help homeowners save time, too.
What makes meal prepping energy efficient?
- Prepping saves fuel on unnecessary trips to the grocery store
- When cooking in larger quantities batches, homeowners can prepare multiple meals at once (saving gas or electricity)
- Dinners can be reheated in smaller appliances (like the microwave)
- Food waste can be minimized
What is Meal Prepping?
Meal prepping is cooking meals ahead of time and creating smaller portions (that are usually frozen). This requires consumers to make a list of all the ingredients and items they need to create their dinners for the week (or weeks) ahead.
Some make larger quantities of certain dishes and divide them into smaller portions or containers. These dishes are frozen to enjoy later.
Others might prepare multiple different meals on the same day and freeze them. Then they simply reheat their dinners when they want them.
Prepping can let homeowners use smaller appliances to reheat their dishes. For example, a lasagna might have been cooked and then frozen. For dinner, homeowners might need to use the microwave for a few minutes to reheat their dinner.
Meal Prepping Saves Unnecessary Trips
Prepping meals ahead of time requires homeowners to plan out which dinners they want to enjoy and prepare for the week or maybe for the next several weeks. This means that they will need to make a grocery list of all the items they need for each recipe.
Prepping saves time and energy on trips to the grocery store. If homeowners shop for many meals at once, they have everything they need to create dinners for the next week or beyond. They won’t have to head to the store to pick up a missing ingredient or stop by a fast food restaurant to get dinner on the go.
Those who embrace meal prepping need to be mindful of their grocery needs. They need to plan out which dishes and dinners they want to cook and create an extensive grocery list with all the necessary ingredients. They also might need to purchase freezer-safe containers to store their meals.
Prepping Minimizes Energy Waste
Prepping meals might focus on an entire day of cooking. This means that energy use might be highest one day of the week. Prepping also could let individuals save energy by cooking multiple meals at once.
For example, two casseroles might need to bake at 400 degrees. The oven’s dual rack can be used to efficiently cook both dishes for more efficient energy use.
Meal Prepping Can Minimize Food Waste
Wasted food can be the result of cooking too much or underestimating the family’s consumption. However, food waste ends up in the trash and then in the landfill.
While food items will naturally decompose, food waste means that energy has been wasted (from cooking). Meal prepping allows consumers to make large batches of dishes and separate them into smaller portions. This leads to less waste.
How to Prep
Those who haven’t prepped their meals ahead of time might need to adjust to this habit. Instead of cooking dinners each night, a few days (or one day) might be devoted to cooking many meals at once and then storing them for the weeks ahead.
Meal prepping should start with planning out a menu or creating a meal plan for the next few weeks. Consumers might choose dishes that have recipes that are easy to make in larger quantities. Lasagna, casseroles, mac and cheese and many other dishes might be popular dishes for prepping.
Once the menu has been planned, it’s time to make a grocery list. When doubling (or tripling) a recipe, make sure to purchase enough ingredients for bulk recipes. Go over the list to ensure that no ingredient has been left out.
Those who choose to prep their meals also might focus on dishes that can be baked or cooked using similar methods. Again, they might choose recipes that cook at the same oven temperature. This can ensure a more energy efficient meal prep.
Consumers also should have enough freezer storage containers for their meals. For the most eco-friendly packing option, ditch the plastic and opt for silicon that can be washed and reused.
While meal prepping might not save homeowners a ton in energy costs, planning and cooking meals ahead of time could lead to more energy efficient choices. In addition, consumers also might find that those nightly dinners are much easier and a lot less stressful.