Admit it. There’s been plenty of times you have made the vow to eat healthier, then by Wednesday you find yourself grabbing a slice of pizza at lunch because you “just need something quick.” Or maybe the kids’ play rehearsal ran late so now you find yourself just making a box of mac and cheese because “it’s easy, cheap, quick, and I’m tired.”
What if we told you, we can help you squash all of the above excuses, get you eating healthy all week, and kill most of the stress in doing so?
Welcome to Meal Prep 101
Step 1: Pick a Day.
We’re not going to lie, when we say meal prepping saves you time, we mean in the long run. Come Thursday night, you’ll be able to just reach into the fridge, grab a container, and heat. However, you will have to spend at least a couple of hours, one day of the week, doing the actual “prepping.”
Recommendation: Sunday. It will get you all set up for the work/school week.
Step 2: Create a Menu Plan.
Take a look at your upcoming week, what does your schedule look like? Will you have dinner out with friends at any point? Will you have a work lunch? Figure out exactly how many meals you’ll need to get you through. Tip: Include snacks!
Look for recipes with ingredients that overlap. For example, a quinoa salad for lunch, and a quinoa bowl for dinner. It will save you some time when it comes to bulk cooking. Think: one protein, one starchy carb, one fresh produce. Tip: Keep it interesting! We know that eating the same lunch every day can get boring. There’s no reason to have to do that with proper planning (especially with those ingredients that can be used in multiple recipes!)
Step 3: Make a Grocery List
Take a look at your meal plan, are there recipes you need to double up on? Triple up on? Can you use ingredients from one meal, to supplement another. You’ll probably need to do some math here. Tip: Don’t buy anything not on your list! It will keep you away from those tempting not-needed snacks and indulgences.
*Optional Step: Save your menus and grocery lists! This will save you a ton of time when it comes to future planning!
Step 4: Get to Cooking!
This is the step that will most likely take you the longest – but with a a good plan in place, you can cut down on some of that time. For example, you can probably cook all your chicken breasts up at once, and at the same time, roast your vegetables, boil your rice on the stove, perhaps have something going on in the crockpot.
Step 5: Assemble
There are a couple of ways to do this. For some, you may just want to have all the cooked ingredients separated into containers, ready to be thrown together when needed. However, we think a better option — though it takes some time to prep, but saves you time in the long run — is to put your meals together, measure out the correct portions, and place each individual meal in its own container (as long as you have enough containers, course.) This way it’s just a “grab and go” or “grab and heat” for the rest of the week! Don’t be afraid to recruit some team members here!
We know this can seem overwhelming at first, but over time you’ll realize just how much money and time you’ll save. And of course, it will also help you stay on track!
We’ve gathered a couple of helpful links to help you get started!
- How To Make Oatmeal in Jars: One Week of Breakfast in 5 Minutes
- 18 Make-Ahead Meals And Snacks To Eat Healthy Without Even Trying
- Paleo Batch Cooking: How I Make 12+ Meals in 2 Hours