Depending on your love for cooking and your level of organization, meal prepping can either be super fun or extremely daunting.
The bottom line is that meal prepping can ensure you have healthy meals and snacks on hand throughout the week. It also prevents you from spending your hard-earned funds on takeout and convenient (likely unhealthy) alternatives.
We’ll offer you our go-to meal prepping tips, and you can decide if the prep time is worth it to help your wallet and waistline.
1. Start Small
If meal prepping is new to you, there’s no sense in jumping all the way in right away. This can cause overwhelm and result in it being a one-and-done experience. The more work you feel it is, the less likely you will stick to it.
So, start with prepping healthy snacks or picking one meal to make in bulk for your workweek. This will build up your meal prep muscle and allow you to add in more meals or snacks when you are ready.
Pro Tip: Prep the meal/snacks that you tend to skip or choose on-the-go. If you never eat breakfast because you wake up too late, start with prepping breakfast items (overnight oats, frozen breakfast burritos, egg bake cups). If you tend to grab unhealthy snacks throughout the day, put your time into cutting up veggies to eat with hummus, for example.
2. Schedule Your Prep Time
Okay, this may sound obvious, but how many times have you declared you would do something and then life just took over - and you realized 2 months had passed?
You must schedule it in. This means your meal and snack recipe choices, as well as your actual prep time.
Choosing the recipes and snack options doesn’t have to take long. We suggest doing this on a separate day than your actual meal prep day. Spend 15-30 minutes browsing Pinterest or your favorite cookbooks to decide on the recipes you want to make.
Make a list and stick to it. This Sweetzer & Orange Meal Planner Pad makes it easy to plan out your meals for the week and add what ingredients you need to grab from the store.
Then, choose what day/time you will actually grocery shop and make your meals. Sunday is our favorite meal prep day but pick whichever day or night fits your schedule - and stick to it.
Pro Tip: Shop your pantry and fridge before choosing meals. Still have quinoa, pasta or frozen chicken breasts on hand? Choose a recipe that will use some of these up!
3. Focus on the Clean 5
Meal prepping is a wonderful way to help encourage you to have healthy meals on hand, but what does that look like?
We like to focus on incorporating the clean 5 into our meals and snacks - whole grains, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats.
Here are some examples for each category:
- Brown Rice
- Oatmeal/Rolled Oats
- Whole Wheat Pasta
- Lentil or Chickpea Pasta
- Whole Grain Bread
- Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas
- Beef (round or loin cuts)
- Brussels Sprouts
- Olive Oil
- Avocado/Avocado Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Nuts + Seeds
Pro Tip: Shop the bulk bins for your whole grains and nuts, and shop the frozen section for fruits and veggies (especially if you love to make smoothies). It is cheaper and just as nutritious.
4. Know when to Cut Corners
Meal prepping is not synonymous with making everything from scratch!
Don’t make your life more difficult. Grab a rotisserie chicken rather than cooking up your own chicken breasts. Choose already prepped cauliflower rice, zoodles or cubed butternut squash rather than tackling this prep on your own. Cut corners if it means you will be more successful.
Pro Tip: Oftentimes, you pay extra for these conveniences. If you are worried about your budget, take note of when certain pre-prepped items go on sale and stock up. Freeze what you don’t need for the week and use it later.
5. Purchase Durable Containers
Portioning out your meals in individual containers makes your meal prep even more satisfying.
It makes for an easy grab-and-go work lunch that can simply be reheated in the container via a microwave or (toaster) oven.
Be sure to choose quality containers that are dishwasher, microwave and oven safe! We love Prep Naturals Glass Meal Prep Containers with Dividers and Prep Naturals Glass Meal Prep Containers.
Pro Tip: Clear containers for your meals (and especially for your cut-up fruits and veggies intended for snacks) make you more likely to grab and eat them - rather than choosing something else unhealthy and convenient. Keep them insight!
The Bottom Line
Meal prepping is a wonderful way to help you eat healthier, save money, and save the stress of cooking meals every night.
It may take a little patience and time upfront, but we are certain you will appreciate the payoff.
Don’t forget to:
- Start Small
- Schedule Your Prep Time
- Focus on the Clean 5
- Know When to Cut Corners
- Purchase Durable Containers
You might also be interested in: The 14 Best Kitchen Gadgets for Your Home