There is nothing as exciting as closing from a busy day and eating a freshly prepared meal. Even better, cooking exciting meals for your toddlers in minutes.
You can successfully reduce cooking time by meal prepping. Meal prepping equips you for a rainy day and this article will guide you on how to prepare meals and the best Nigerian foods for meal preparation.
What is meal prepping?
Meal prepping refers to planning, preparing, and portioning meals in advance. It involves cooking the meals, preparing recipes to eat immediately, or cooking with already-prepared ingredients.
This ensures the availability of meals on busy weeknights or days, or even sick moments, and periods when you may not have time to cook. Given society's hustle and bustle, meal prepping can help save time and ensure your family eats healthy, well-prepared meals.
Principles of meal prepping
Prepping meals ahead does not necessarily mean spending or dedicating a whole day, particularly weekends, to cooking various dishes and leaving the kitchen sweaty and exhausted.
There are several methods for meal prep, and it all depends on your goals, routine and meal preferences. You can prepare the ingredients, store them when needed, or prepare the meals simultaneously. It is key to the preparation style that works for you.
Below are some of the principles required for meal-prepping:
Planning: This involves considering the meals to be prepared and what ingredients to use. Planning is important because it allows for convenience, nutrient density, versatility, cost-effectiveness, and consideration of family dietary needs, restrictions, and choices.
Preparation: This involves purchasing ingredients from stores and the food preparation itself. It is always great to prepare in large quantities and refrigerate or store in the freezer for later use. This saves time and reduces future stress.
Portioning: In portioning, you divide the prepared ingredients according to consumption or usage. Portioning is ideal for proper organisation and prevention of food waste. It also serves the purpose of easy reheating.
Storage: How you store food determines how well it stays fresh and delicious. To retain your food's value, use airtight containers or freezer bags. Labelling the containers with the contents and the date helps you quickly locate meals and know when to eat each one.
Factors to consider when meal-prepping
Choice of food: Draft a meal plan. A meal plan helps you know what meals to prepare next and which are appropriate for the season. It also allows for budgeting. While doing this, ensure that you consider your family’s preferences.
Nutritional density: This is one of the most important factors in meal prepping. Prepare meals that contain the proper nutrients for good health.
Cycle your meals: Know when to switch meals. As the saying goes, “Variety is the spice of life.”No one loves a boring meal plan. Before prepping meals, set a meal plan so you do not have to repeatedly eat the same dish.
It is vital to vary your choice of meals within each food class. This helps to ensure the consumption of sufficient nutrients and further makes meals interesting, as one does not have to eat the same kind of meal daily.
Time: Some recipes or meals are faster and easier to prepare, while others are time-consuming. Organise your prep and cook times, and choose recipes according to available time.
Cost of ingredients: It is essential to know the cost of ingredients and choose them according to your family’s budget or available funds. This bolsters the importance of budgeting. Drafting a list helps to cut down on unwise spending, separating needs from wants.
Containers and compartments: It is important to consider the storage needs of the meals you prepare and the availability of containers and compartments.
Benefits of meal prepping as a Nigerian parent
Some of the benefits include but not limited to;
Expense management: Meal prepping can help you stick to your budget, decreasing the chances of food waste. It encourages bulk purchases, which is highly conducive to cost savings.
Proper organization: Meal prepping helps you know what foods are in or out of season and their cost. It also provides room for experimentation and versatility and aids in knowing your options.
Saves time: Prepping meals saves time by reducing the daily cooking and cleaning and saving you the mental stress of guessing through meals on weeknights or weary moments.
Portion control and healthy living: Meal prepping helps control food consumption, contributing to your diet goals. You must portion your meals accordingly and infuse your nutritional needs into the recipe.
Having meals prepped ahead can help you discipline your food intake at the appropriate time. Meal prepping also helps ensure your family gets the suitable protein, carbs, and other nutrients.
Recommended Nigerian foods for meal prepping
Below are a few number of Nigerian meals that are well-suited for meal prepping;
Jollof rice: Jollof rice is a popular dish that can be frozen or stored in the refrigerator and microwaved or reheated.
Egusi soup: This is a Nigerian soup typical in most households. One of the substantial benefits of egusi is its ability to last long and retain its flavour. You can make it in large batches and freeze it for later use.
Stew: Tomato stew is a common meal base prepared in large quantities. It always saves the day, mainly because it can be used for various other meal preparations and can last for an extended time while retaining freshness.
Beans: Beans can be boiled and stored for later use in jollof preparation or eaten with stew. You can also eat beans with yams, rice, and plantains.
Proteins: You can always purchase your meats or fish in large quantities, rinse them, and either parboil or store them in the freezer for later use.
Other Nigerian starchy foods are good options for meal prepping. Just be sure to store them properly to prevent spoilage.
Nigerian meal prepping is a great way to save time and money while still enjoying delicious and healthy meals. You can quickly shuffle between options by planning and preparing your meals in advance. There is no definite way to prep meals.
You can adopt different methods like cooking in batches, cooking complete meals and storing them in the fridge or freezer, or prepping the veggies and ingredients ahead. You can easily create a delicious Nigerian meal with little planning and preparation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1 . Which Nigerian foods are not allowed for meal prepping?
Swallows and perishable ingredients like vegetables are not ideal for long storage periods or meal prepping.
- Is it safe to meal prep my toddler’s meals?
It is entirely safe to prepare your toddler’s meals ahead of time. Just ensure that the meals are age-appropriate and well-balanced.