How to Make Your Own Meal Kits
What is a Meal Kit?
Normally, it’s a kit you order online that’s delivered straight to your door. It has pre-portioned ingredients for a provided recipe. Many people love them, and I can understand why. They are convenient. They are cheaper than takeout. And the food turns out well with minimal skills.
However, there is no way to make them work for me and my family. We have too many food restrictions ranging from allergies to weight loss to personally fussy taste.
But whenever I look at the very pretty picture of the menu option for these subscription services, there might be one meal that could maybe work. Generally, it’s something I would file under I’m willing to eat it knowing I won’t enjoy it, like pork chops.
So, I like to make my own meal kits when I meal prep on Sundays. This step speeds up weeknight cooking. It takes out any weeknight guesswork because I already know that I have all the ingredients prepped and ready to go. Meal kits also fit very well with weekly meal planning.
Why You Want to Make Your Own Meal Kit
Some nights you want to eat a home-cooked meal, but every minute really counts. Or you know you are going to be exhausted, and still want a nice homecooked meal.
By making your own meal kits, you know what you are going to eat, and you have a plan to make it happen. Making a meal kit can turn a more adventurous recipe into something a bit more doable after work.
Ways to Go About It
Note that these kits aren’t dump recipes. These are mostly prepping and portioning. A lot of this falls under the easy to medium meal prep levels I describe in my meal prep post.
First, let’s talk about the produce. Some you can slice ahead of time, like onions. Some you can wash ahead of time like apples. And some all you can do is just section them off in the fridge, so they are with the rest of the meal kit, like potatoes.
Then there are the meats. You can buy a large pack of chicken or ground beef on sale and then portion it so it’s ready to go the night of. For foods like chicken, it’s worth the time to pre-cut for kabobs or stir fry. These portions can go into Ziplocks or other food storage containers. I like these pyrex ones because they clean so well and are just the right sizes for a lot of my recipes.
Sometimes you can start the marinade when you make the kit, but you don’t want to start it too early. A nice thing about most marinades, even homemade ones, is that they have a shelf life of at least a few days. You can make a marinade for your kit ahead of time. Just mix and store. This also reduces time-consuming measuring during the week.
Here are a couple of examples of meal kits I make.
I make a marinade in the flavor of the week. Then I weigh out the meat I need, usually about 1 pound. Next, I cut it into kabob-sized chunks and store them in a glass container.
For the marinade, I like to mix it up and then set it right on top of the chicken container. Then the morning I plan to make the kabobs, I’ll pour the marinade on the chicken while I’m heating my breakfast.
Later, I’ll start some rice when my husband texts me that he’s finally leaving work. I’ll also put together some sort of simple vegetable side around here (by simple I mean I pour baby carrots into a bowl and if I’m feeling fancy I’ll add a side of fat-free ranch).
Once he’s home I’ll heat up the indoor grill and assemble the skewers. As soon as the grill is hot, they only take 2.5 minutes for a pair. Then we eat and I will have spent less than 15 minutes in the kitchen.
I love tacos and meal kits let me have more variety. First, I portion the meat. It usually doesn’t need cutting because it’s either already ground or I’m going to shred it after cooking.
Then I’ll prep all the produce (onions, peppers, garlic, etc.) in the food processor. This gets stored in a covered glass bowl next to the chicken in the fridge.
The night of I’ll pour the chicken and sauce into the instant pot and cook to perfection, while I walk the dogs for 30 minutes.
I could go on, but why? If you are looking for more recipes, check out my recipe page here.
What You Need
There are two things you need before you start making your own meal kits: a plan and food storage containers.
You need to know not just what you want to eat in the future, but roughly when you want to eat it. I am a strong believer in meal planning because meal planning is awesome.
A weekly meal plan does everything from reducing weekly food stress to helping plan grocery runs. Without my plan, weeknight cooking would be completely overwhelming.
However, if you are overwhelmed by meal planning, you can get my free meal planning worksheet by subscribing to my email list. Also, check out my Chaos Management Series here.
Food Storage Containers
I group my food storage into two categories.
The first is disposable and it’s all about the zip locks. They might not be the best for the environment, but they are clean and you don’t have to clean them afterward. They also come in a lot of different sizes. I favor these for anything I want to be compact, or bunch together.
I can pre-measure and bag toppings or ingredients separately and then throw all the little baggies into one larger zip lock. I find that they store well flat in both my fridge and freezer. If you plan to fill a bunch of zip locks regularly, I recommend these bag holders. They are like giving yourself an extra set of hands in the kitchen.
The second category is reusable storage containers. These are probably greener than the one-time-use plastic baggies, but you have to clean them. I prefer glass to plastic storage because I hate and worry about them staining and smelling. I’ve thrown out way too many plastic ones.
I recommend using glass. I like this pyrex storage set because they stack as well as they clean. In fact, I like them so much that I made my mother get a set too. I like to use these for marinating chicken and storing other ingredients every week.
Making your own meal kits can be an easy and affordable way to cook on a weeknight. The best part about making them yourself is that you can tailor them to fit you.
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