Untitled-design-6

Instant Pot Chicken Breast

 

 

If you are not making this chicken every week for meal prep you are missing out on one of the easiest ways to have chicken on hand for chicken salads, bbq sandwiches, quesadillas and more. This simple recipe lends itself to making homemade chicken stock in the same pot!  If you do not own one of these, you are missing out. It is like having your own kitchen assistant creating and cooking fabulous foods for you. 

MPP PIC LARGE

Ten Tips For Hosting A Meal Prep Party

The hottest new trend in home parties are meal prep parties.  These functional but fun gatherings are a great way to get together with friends and accomplish something together. 

A party can be as simple as preparing a single meal together that you all plan to eat that evening or as involved as all prepping your meals for the week.  The beauty of these fun parties are that it is time well spent, doing a task together. If you ever thought “ugh… food prepping is drudgery” attending or hosting a party just might be the way to take away the doldrums of cutting, chopping, and packaging the family meals.

1. Decide On The Type of Party

Is your party going to be for adults, children, or a combination of both? Mommy and me parties could be fun where mom’s get kids interested in preparing kid inspired breakfasts, and snacks. It could be an adult only party where maybe you and your book club members read a cook book and then create one of the recipes together. Maybe your party would be a couples coking party where each couple competes against the other. Your imagination is the limit to the fun you can have.  We once attended a sibling sushi making contest, it was a blast. 

2. Keep The Guest List Manageable

Meal prep parties should be smaller in nature, They should only be as large as your kitchen island can hold. Remember there must be room for all attendees to maneuver around their respective work areas.  Depending on what menu you are planning you may needs extra room for serving, packaging, or for appliances such as crock pots.  We once held a pickling meal prep party and needed room for ingredients and all those jars. 

3. Plan The Menu

Plan the menu according to your theme and your guests.  It’s imperative to know ahead of time if there are any food allergies or sensitivities. Keep your menu trim, select easy recipes or ones without too many items to prepare, and be mindful of timing of the recipes you have selected. 

4. Create A Shopping List

Decide who is responsible for sourcing items. If you are planning a weekly meal prep  for example you may want to tell everyone to bring the items needed for the amount they would like to prepare. This is also a good idea for shopping preferences for example you have two friends, one who only shops at Whole Foods and the other Aldi.   

If you are planing to prepare and then sit down to eat the  meal together you still have choices. You can assign out items for your guests to bring, split the bill  or you can shop for the items and absorb the cost.  If you do all the shopping for a meal, you have the peace of mind that you have all the ingredients and on time. 

5. Have Extra On Hand

Extra tools like cutting boards, knives, extra towels, extra paper towels, extra ingredients. There is always someone who forgets something or underestimates what they needs. Extra disposable take away containers are always a good idea. Make sure you have extra cleaning supplies on hand too. Kitchens can be messy place and spills happen. 

6. Clean Well Before A Party

 Clean everything in and around cooking and bathroom areas . It is not just for the sake of propriety but for the health and well being of your guests. It is easy to spread germs into the cooking area.  Make sure each guest is feeling well, and washes their hands in the bathroom sink before before they begin touching anything in the food prep areas. 

Remove pets from cooking areas

7. Think Safety 1st

Remove small children if you are using knives, graters, or other sharpe objects. Be mindful of splattering grease, boiling water and spills. Accidents can be avoided with a little bit of caution. If you are hosting a party where small children are involved ensure they have age appropriate, safe tools to use. Never let small children operate, mixers, the oven, or stove.  Keep safety in mind when planning menus. 

A party can be as simple as preparing a single meal together that you sit down and eat, or as involved as prepping meals for the week ahead. 

8. Benefits of an Instructor-Led Party

If you have ever attended a cooking class then you know an instructor is a valuable asset. Instructor lead events bring focus to the objective and keeps things on a time track. An instructor leading your meal prep party adds a layer of organization to your event. Like an MC does to a show or a DJ at a wedding. They add value by imparting their culinary knowledge to your guests who are likely to pick up helpful cooking tips and techniques along the way. 

Instructor led parties can assist you with planning, they can help the host decide on the best event type for them in the space allocated and design the menus in such a way that your party is sure to be a success.  Good instructors will help you create the shopping lists.    They should also guide you through food safety procedures to ensure you are prepared to have others cook in your space. During the session they will reenforce food-safe handling practices and food storage techniques. 

9. Where Do Instructor-Led Parties Take Place?

Instruction can happen in a physical setting such as a culinary studio or in the safety of your home, in person, or virtually.

When an instructor leads a party virtually. It is as easy as logging on to a zoom meeting. The instructors value stretches beyond their culinary knowledge, they ensure that the time spent is managed properly and keep your guests focused and on task. They want you party to be as fun and successful as you do. Once the instruction has ended you and your guests can enjoy your time together. 

10. Where To Find a Meal Prep Party Instructor

Many popular kitchenware stores have culinary studios built inside of them.  They offer many types of classes. 

Some cooking schools are designed just for children 

Virtual Meal Prep Parties are offered for convenience and safety

Many popular private chefs will come to your home and provide a cooking class

The Most Popular Types of Meal Prep Parties

So what are some examples of some successful meal prep parties? Meal Prep Made for example offers two distinct types of parties. Both are home type parties where the instructor logs in virtually. 

The Ultimate Dinner Party

The Ultimate Dinner Party is one of the most popular- You prepare the guest list and select the menu.  

Your Instructor will be notified you have chosen a menu and date. They will open up a dialogue with you to discuss assistance with planning. 

Prior to your event you will receive a shopping list for all the items along with the list of necessary tools to accomplish the job, such as cutting boards, knives, etc. 

The instructor will log on to the session before your guests arrive at your home, run through the check list with you and be there to greet your guests.

The instructor may have additional questions for your guests around their culinary skills and food allergens. The instructor will assign tasks to each. This sets the tone for the party. 

At the designated time the instruction portion begins and you and your guests are coached through the entire process of making the meal.

Once the meal is to a point where you are just waiting for it to stew, simmer, or bake. The instructor will thank you and your guests and they will log off so that you can enjoy your private time together. 

*Meal Prep Made instructors are food safety certified

Single Dinner Party

The Meal Prep Party

The Meal Prep Parties are also very popular. Similar to “The Ultimate Dinner Party” you will prepare the guest list and invite your friends.

You will select the best menu options for your group.Your Instructor will be notified you have chosen a menu and date. They will open up a dialogue with you to discuss assistance with planning. 

You will receive a shopping list with all the necessary items that you will prepare for the week. 

You have complete control over the cost of the food. You decide if you will split the costs with friends or have each show up with the ingredients to prepare their meals. 

You will receive instructions on the tools your guest will need to prepare the meals. 

Your instructor will log on prior to the party starting and run through any last minute checklist items with you.

Once everyone has arrived at the designated time, the instruction portion begins and you and your guests are coached through the entire process of preparing the weekly menu. 

Once your meals are prepared, the instructor logs off from the virtual session and you and your guests can begin packing up the food. (The instructor will recommend coolers with ice packs are part of the necessary tools in order to keep the meals safe.)

*Meal Prep Made instructors are food safety certified

Young friends cooking

Most meal prep party instructors love to see the final product and receive feed back as well. Don’t be surprised if they ask you to share the party photos, receive feedback, and ask about guests comments.  

If your friends loved the experience, you might suggest making it a regular scheduled social event. 

Featured Image (1200 × 600 px)

Healthy Family Style Meals Take Center Stage – Post Pandemic

We have all been hunkered down starting back in March of 2020 with the onset of a worldwide pandemic, hibernating like bears has subsequently followed us deep into the heart of the winter of 2022. Couple the fast-spreading virus with the extreme seasonal temperatures and we have a recipe for complacency.

Likely driven partly by fear and the desire to comfort ourselves, we remain most of the time in the safe haven of our own homes. It’s no wonder many people are suffering from a mild form of depression. That seasonal sadness typically experienced in winter used to be referred to simply as the doldrums is now magnified to epic proportions affecting our mental health in staggering numbers, all thanks to Covid.

Blog Pics (8)

 

According to a study by Kff.org “During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. A share that has been largely consistent, up from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019.”

Depression Pic (1200 × 285 px)

 

Depression and anxiety often lead to unhealthy behaviors. Overeating, alcohol consumption, cravings, and lack of energy. As a society we are becoming lazy and who could blame us? From food to fashion, the way we go to work, school and the way we even socialize leaves us seeking out ways to comfort ourselves.

Blog Pics (6)
Blog Pics (7)

Contrary to what we may think, working and attending school from home has not helped us to break the fast food habit. According to a published fast-food industry statistic about consumerism during the 2020-2022 pandemic, we are still indulging ourselves with crispy, salty french fries and fatty sauce-laden foods. Maybe partly due to the fact that ordering a bucket of chicken, a burger or both has never been easier from your phone. Simply click that app open and you never have to move farther than your own front door. 

 

 

More often than not, when we do manage
to venture to the outside world
we tend to sit in our cars
while others serve our food to us
from the drive through window. 
Even our weekly shopping list items
are wheeled out on a cart 
by a grocery clerk
and placed in the trunk of our cars.

 

 

Blog Pics (5)
Blog Pics (4)

 

Being at home more often also means we have ramped up the art of couch-potato snacking. It is easy to add up the calories while binging an entire season of the most popular show. Savvy marketers tempt us with ads for cheese puffs and M&Ms and try to deepen our addiction to junk food. This strategy is highly successful for them, just think about how many times you hit the pause button during your last binge watch to get up from the couch to fetch a snack.

Family watching TV

Our bad food habits are not just happening on the couch or in our cars. In 2021 entertaining at home has become popular. We now have pizza and game nights, football and wings, and potluck suppers featuring big pots of stew and homemade breads. Along with that type of socialization comes the indulgence of sweet soda, beer, wine and other alcohol. All adding up to unwanted pounds.

22
23
24

Fashion has fed into our need to feel coddled with its everyday stretchy waisted Athleisure styles. It is perfectly acceptable to wear yoga pants on business zoom calls and even out to dinner. In the off chance that you want to wear a dress, check out the selections that designers are touting these days and all you will find are oversized frumpy prairie dresses and skirts. For men the selection is slightly better but still very relaxed. 

Yoga Pants (9)
Dress

 

 

We love being cozy and feeling loved. The Covid fashion trends hide all those extra pounds under all the elastic waist bands and further boost our desire to feel soothed. This plays well into the fact that the only people we really interact with in person are close friends and relatives who will accept us the way we are. 

 

 

The piper will eventually have to be paid. Fashion is a cruel industry and next year it will have us all being rewarded for showing off flat abs and thin thighs. The dresses and shirts will show every curve and we will all be back in more formal clothing, if not at least business casual.

With spring fast approaching and bathing suit season to follow we do not need not panic, there is time to start making small changes that can add up to a more rewarding lifestyle even in the future. Changes that allow us to embrace the new ways of life with all its modern post pandemic conveniences.Health professionals tell us in order to shed pounds we must incorporate lower calories, higher fiber, and exercise. This means less junk, more fruit and vegetables and getting off the couch. 

Get Off The Couch!

30
29

 

Just as in 2020 as we designated spaces for a home office and classrooms, perhaps in 2022 more of us will convert a room to a home gym. According to Forbes “The craze for home fitness technology saw some manufacturers such as Peloton do extremely well during the pandemic”. They go on to say “if CES 2022 was anything to go by, that trend shows no sign of slowing down.” Whoop, a start up fit tech company, was recently valued at 3.6 billion.

Set Up A Home Gym

31
32
33

 

As the warmer weather approaches we can expect the popularity of family time and exercise to blend, Perhaps we will see the return of local neighborhood softball leagues and kick ball games. It would be great to see children playing outdoors playing tag, jumping rope, or simply chasing fireflies while parents keep watch nearby.

Get Outside To Play

43

 

Over the past several years there has been a reinvigorated enthusiasm among men to man their grills and show off their backyard barbecue skills. NPData says “The pandemic compelled consumers to spend on grilling and outdoor cooking, as a way to gather safely, create new experiences with family, and even learn new skills, during increased time spent at home.” According to Bloomberg News, “sales of grills and smokers in the U.S. soared 41% to $3.2 billion for the 12 months ending in March 2021.” The predictions are that the backyard barbecues are here to stay. 

Gather At The Grill

34
35
36

When it comes to enjoying our homes more, swimming pools are the hottest home improvement and if you are thinking about installing an in-ground pool in your yard be prepared to dole out higher prices and be patient. We have heard that there is a long waiting list for pool construction.

Another popular home improvement project that we are contracting for is fenced yards. This means more playtime for our four-legged and two-legged kids. We can look forward to more games of catch or fetch and more play dates outdoors. There is little doubt we are already reinvesting in the way we live. 

According to Business Wire “The home service industry as a whole is doing quite well, cleaning, contracting and landscaping grew strong in 2021.” This may be due to some shifts in focus, working remotely, or in the realization that we just want to enjoy more time on the weekends with friends and family instead of weeding the flower beds or cleaning toilets. 

Spruce Up The Back Yard

42

All companies, regardless of size and or industry, have had to adapt and shift the way they do business. The biggest change for the corporate world has been that the bulk of their workforce now being based from home offices. Given the option to return to the office has been less appealing to a great deal of their employees, with many of them preferring to return to the office only a day or two a week. For some employees the return to the office at all is unacceptable and are willing to seek out employers who will offer a 100% work from home benefit.

Business travel had shifted also. Many large in-person conferences successfully morphed into either virtual or hybrid conferences. According to a survey conducted by Owl Labs, “COVID-19 has taught us that working from the office doesn’t equal productivity. With the right tools and support, people can work from anywhere. Video conferencing technology has become the standard form of communication with 60% of respondents using video more than before COVID-19, bringing new considerations for remote employees.” 

Small businesses and consultants have moved away from the meeting rooms and coffee shops and shifted to online collaboration and learning sessions. Even cooking classes are being brought to you virtually in the safety and convenience of your own home.

Take A Virtual Cooking Class

Cooking Class Collage

This bodes well for those who find themselves seeking out educational information around food preparation techniques. According to Smart Brief “A 2020 survey of 2,200 US consumers found that the intention to keep up with home cooking is especially strong among younger demographics, with 43% of Gen Z respondents saying they too intend to cook at home more after the pandemic is over.”

They are even more focused on the balance of mental and physical health. They tend to engage in fresh air activities and adopt exercise as a way of life. This group of savvy young professionals know that they need to provide nutritionally sound meal options for themselves and their families.

They prefer to prepare healthy snacks ahead of time that can be easily accessed. They know how to structure their grocery budgets and how to design balanced menus that stay on target financially. They understand that beyond planning meals they need to serve meals that are not only simple but also creative.

Healthy Pros Collage

That being said, experts strongly agree that some conveniences are here to stay. The financial predictions for popular delivery services are strong into at least 2027. We can’t imagine not using an app to order all the things we need and have them sent directly to our homes. We may not ever spend hours at the grocery store again.

Convenience and fast foods will never completely go away as it serves its purpose when necessary. The future of health is food and the future of food is healthier than it’s ever been. Look at how many fast food places have quickly adopted a plant based option. 

Healthy Food

In an article titled: How to Look After Your Health by MentalHealth.Org.UK
They cite reducing stress as one way to improve mental health, along with exercise and socialization. Finding smarter ways to take the guesswork out of what to prepare for dinner can reduce day to day anxiety. Add in more daily exercise, healthy eating habits and socialization and you have a winning recipe.

Tomorrow’s food consumer will adopt the “everything in moderation motto.” This fits nicely into everyone’s personal goals without being too restrictive. That is why planning what you will put in your body and what you will provide for your family will be the key to getting back on track. Purchasing healthy food, cooking a large variety of more sensible meals at home. 

Start Meal Prepping

Blog Pics (10)
Meal Prep Maid Cover

Where most good intentioned eaters stumble and ultimately fall back upon poor meal habits are in the planning phase. They fail to plan and therefore plan to fail. Read our article: Why Most People Fail at Meal Prep to learn more. Having menus designed that work for your lifestyle and budget, creating shopping lists and sticking to them, meal prepping in advance to save time will curb the desire to eat for convenience. The second area that trips people up is the inability to stick to the plan. That is where accountability to others becomes a good option. Education, planning and accountability along with exercise will help to curb bad behaviors. 

As spring fast approaches; stop binge eating, try consuming fewer processed foods and increasing your outdoor activity. Meal Prep Made is a new alternative to learning how to prepare more healthy meals at home. The program works in conjunction with any popular weight management programs like WW or Noom. Take a meal prep class, join a group for accountability, and get access to pre-designed meal prep menus and automated shopping lists. You will be ready to step into the next season of 2022 with a new confidence and a pep in your step! 

Woman Eating Burger

Reasons Why People Fail at Meal Prep

Problem #1

You Are Busy and Hungry - A Fast Burger Seems Convenient

No one starts out their morning by thinking to themselves,” I am going to make poor food choices today.” But the number one reason people end up eating junk food is the failure to plan. Food planning is not how most folks want to spend their time. It seems easier to grab fast food or graze on snacks rather than pack a nutritious lunch. 

 

The Solution

Discover a few simple meals that you can put together is the first step in the process. They can be as simple as a turkey sandwich, or a few boiled eggs to start. 
This is only to start because if you keep bringing the same foods over and over you will get bored and be tempted again by that junk food burger. 

Problem #2

You're Tired of Eating The Same Thing

This is a common mistake made by those who actually have the intent to prepare their own meals. They will cook up some generic chicken, boil some rice, and roast vegetables. This sounds like a great idea, right?  Wrong!  
After 2 days of eating the same lunch, you will begin to get bored

The Solution

Find a way to use those same ingredients, but season them differently. You could one day eat them warm and the next day or incorporate them into an interesting salad with a complete opposite flavor. On the third and final day, you could put the ingredients into a pita pocket. 

Problem #3

You're Missing the Ingredients Needed to Change Up Your Meal

This comes down to a failure to plan out your meals and make a shopping list. For some making a shopping list is a task that is more mundane than washing and ironing your clothes. However, without a plan, you will be back buying that fast food burger.

The Solution

Create a list of meals you plan to prepare for the next week. If you use an online order system you can simply add the ingredients. If you are shopping for groceries yourself consider utilizing an AI.  An Alexa device has a shopping list feature that works well. It can be verbally updated as you look in your pantry or fridge. When you are at the grocery store you can just pull up your app and check off the items as you source them. 

Problem #4

Meal Prepping for the Entire Family is Time Consuming.

Busy parents often are the targets of fast food commercials. They know you are short on time and convince you that heading through the drive thru is a better option. But is it really? 

A CBS News article quotes Dr. Eliana Perrin, professor of pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine. “Eating too much fast food is bad for children’s health because of the high calorie count coupled with too few nutrients, Perrin said. A poor diet can also lead to heart problems and obesity.”

The Solution

Planning family meals is almost easier since ingredients can be purchased in large quantities. Buying a 3 pound package of ground beef that can be turned into 3 different meals is a good place to start.  When you incorporate the freezer into your planning you can really step up the family prepared meals. Make breakfast sandwiches, quesadillas and soups that can all be stored in the freezer. 

Problem #5

Creating Menus Can be a Big Project

Unless you are a professional chef, the average person has little experience creating menus in advance. That is why in previous generations, days of the week were assigned the same menu. Wednesday was always spaghetti in our house.   If that works for you great!, If not, you may want to look into a way to get some assistance with this project. 

The Solution

We took months to test recipes, add them to a menu, and create meal plans. We do this for a living. If you work or care take for others we may have the perfect solution for you. Check out a sample meal plan.  The good news is once you become a Meal Prep Made member you get so much more than just the menus and meal plans.

You get 5 weeks of live online instruction and support. You get all the recipes with full nutritional information. We even provide auto generated shopping lists and ways for you to customize your Meal Prep Made plans.  We take the hassle out of your planning, so you can spend more time doing the things that you do best.