Meal prep is a hot topic right now on blogs and social media. It also happens to be the number one answer in my poll in my Facebook group asking what you need the most help with when it comes to eating healthy. In our ever busier world, people are trying to find ways to stay healthy, lose weight, and enjoy real food. This is how meal prep was born. If you haven’t jumped in to meal prepping yet, there’s no better time than now.
If you have avoided trying to meal prep because it just intimidates you, I get it. I used to see those pictures people post with all of these plastic containers filled with homemade food and lined up neatly in the fridge, and think, I can’t do all that. Well, the good news is you don’t have to.
Meal prep can be whatever you want it to be. It has to help you, not make more work for you, and it has to fit with your lifestyle. A single person’s meal prep is going to look very different than meal prep for a family of four. Plus, you can start small until you get comfortable with the idea and the process. Each week or month, you can add something else that will simplify your eating life.
In order to make meal prep work for you, there are several things to consider. Think about your lifestyle, your needs, and how much time you have. Here are some tips to help you get started.
#1 – Start small
If you have never meal prepped before, don’t try to do ten things the first time around. Pick one thing that you want to try. It could be making hard boiled eggs for the week, preparing mason jar salads for lunches, or baking chicken breasts to keep for quick, easy meals during the week. Just do that one thing the first week and see how it goes. If it feels easy, add something else the next week. If it feels overwhelming, keep doing it for a few weeks until it feels easier.
#2 – Make a plan
Before you can meal prep, you have to meal plan. You need to know what you plan to eat during the week. If you are just starting out, maybe just plan your dinners. Eventually, you can plan breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. To plan, look at your calendar for the upcoming week. What is going on in your life? Which days will you be able to actually cook? Will you have some crazy busy days? Those can be slated as leftover days. Then go ahead and pick out which recipes you want to make for the week. Once you have a plan, make your grocery list and get everything you need, then you are good to go.
#3 – Organize your kitchen
It’s a good idea to take stock of what is currently in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. See what needs to be used up soon, and think about how you can use it. If anything is really old or expired, throw it out. You also want to organize these spaces so that you have room in these areas to put new meal prepped items.
#4 – Choose your time
My meal prep day is Sunday, because that’s when I have the most time to do it. I work a full time job during the week, and Saturdays are usually busy with family activities. Sunday also happens to be the same day I go grocery shopping, so I have everything I need to accomplish what I have planned for that week. You need to select the day of the week that you can carve out an hour or two to devote to meal prep. You also need to think about when you will be grocery shopping, so you have a well-stocked kitchen. An empty fridge and an empty pantry won’t be any help.
#5 – Gather supplies
Meal prep requires being able to store food in various containers. Make sure you have a good supply of plastic baggies, freezer bags, plastic containers, glass containers, and anything else you plan to use. It’s also a good idea to have these items in a variety of sizes for all of the different things you may be prepping. You can see which meal prepping products I recommend here.
Meal prepping can be a real lifesaver when you are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When you prep for an hour or two on the weekend, you are set up to eat healthy food during the week. You won’t be as likely to turn to fast food or ordering pizza if dinner is already partially prepared. If you need help getting started with meal prep, you can sign up for a nutrition consultation here.
If you would like to get started meal prepping, but are still unsure of planning, check out my 4-Week Meal Plan!