Today I want to help make your life just a little bit easier!! I’m sharing EXACTLY how to meal prep — AND going over all the basics of healthy meal prepping for a week of success!
First, why should you Meal prep?
Meal prepping is THE biggest tip I have for living a healthy lifestyle. It will ensure that even when life gets absolutely crazy, you still have nutritious options that will help you with your weight loss or fitness goals. Taking time one day a week to prepare healthy meals is key to not only looking better — but feeling better, too.
I know prepping all your food for one week may seem overwhelming at first, but overall it will actually end up saving you A LOT of time in the kitchen — and make life a little less stressful.
Because of that, I wanted to create the ultimate meal prepping for beginners guide to help your get started — PLUS I even included some EASY meal prep recipes that are extremely versatile!
How to Meal Prep
Before you Start – Prepare
Step 1: Make a Plan — Choose a Day + Pick your Meals
This is the fun part! Take some time to look up recipes — here are some great meal prep recipes to get started — and figure out how you want to prepare your food for the week. You can be creative or you can be simple. If you’re new to meal prepping I recommend using basic recipes that don’t contain too many ingredients. Once you have done a few weeks of prepping then you can start to experiment.
I would suggest starting with 1-2 breakfast ideas, 2-3 different lunches or dinners, and 2-3 snack options. It’s nice to have a little bit of variety to choose from during the week. It helps to keep things interesting.
Next, choose a day and time to do all of your prepping. You’ll want to clear our at least two hours so that you have plenty of time to cook, portion out your meals, and clean everything up again.
Plan HOW you will prep everything and what sort of storage you will need for each meal. Decide what should be cooked first, second, and third. Start with the foods that take the longest to cook, like grains or slow cooker meals. Then move onto things that take less time.
Also, keep in mind the equipment you’ll be using to prepare. Can you use the same post for two different recipes without having to wash it? For example, I usually cook my veggies first on a baking sheet. Then I use that same sheet to cook up some chicken or fish — it save times AND dishes!
Step 2: Prepare your Kitchen + Get your Containers Ready
Before you even start, you’ll want to make sure your kitchen and workspace is totally clean — TRUST ME, it makes the whole process much easier when you have plenty of room to work and all on your meal prepping containers are clean.
Also be sure to clean all of your cooking equipment, and tidy up your pantry, and get rid of any old food in your refrigerator — this will help you with the next step! 😉
Step 3: Make a Grocery List + Go Shopping
Now that you have your recipes gathered, you have a game plan, and your kitchen and containers are clean, you will need to make a list of ingredients you need, and head to the grocery store.
Make sure to take inventory of all of your ingredients BEFORE you hit the store so that you don’t end up buying double of something you may already have. Make sure you check stock of the healthy foods in your refrigerator and your pantry, in case you need to restock anything.
I made you a little printable of some of healthy staples you might want on hand each week to help you. Most of the foods are “whole foods” meaning they come in their most natural state. No processed foods and very minimally processed condiments. (This is rule numero uno on the LFG Nutrition Plan.)
Download your FREE Clean Eating Grocery List HERE!
Now, Let’s Get Cookin’!
Step 4: Prepare your Grains
Starting with healthy grains is a great idea because some can take quite a while to cook — like brown rice. Others don’t take as long — like quinoa or cous cous. After they’re finished, you can use the same pot to cook up some veggies, or make a soup!
One of my favorite little “meal prepping hacks” is to make a huge double batch of brown rice, and then freeze it in individual containers. It’s like minute rice — only healthy! You’ll love how easy it is to cook and freeze brown rice — PLUS you can use the same method for quinoa AND cauliflower rice too!
And even though they aren’t grains, let’s talk about potatoes, sweet potatoes, and roasted squash or beets — these usually take quite a while to cook too, so we’ll just group those in this category — think of this as your “healthy carbs category”. 🙂
Step 5: Prepare your Fruits & Veggies
Ok, here’s “meal prep hack” number two. If you’re a beginner or just like convenience, buy your fruits and veggies pre-cut. This can save TONS of time in the kitchen.
But if you like to shop on a budget, you can also buy produce in it’s “whole” form as well. With that however, you will have to cut and prepare your fruits and veggies for the week. A great idea is making a big fruit salad each week for a snack. You can serve it with some Greek yogurt or easy homemade granola, you can throw it in a smoothie, or you can just eat it as-is for a snack. It’s a PERFECT thing to have on hand
Cutting up a rainbow of different veggies to keep raw and nosh on all week is another great idea. They’re perfect to snack on with hummus, top salads with, and to use in a stir-fry for a quick dinner.
When it comes to preparing salads — I find storing them in mason jars is the best container to keep them fresh and crisp. Just remember to get your salad and greens as dry as possible so they don’t get soggy!
It’s also a good idea to cook some veggies as well to serve as a side with some protein. An easy way to cook a bunch of veggies while meal prepping is by roasting them. It’s easiest to cook up a few different veggies all at once — maybe three or so. Cut them all up about the same size and place them on a big baking sheet. Then roast them with a little olive or coconut oil and some salt + pepper. I usually do two big baking sheets worth of veggies each week for lunches and dinners.
Step 6: Prepare your Protein
This can be where you can be as fancy or as simple as you want. If you want to marinate your protein, this will make your meals very planned — which is totally fine! But if you’re newer to this whole meal prepping things, it might be easier to choose some basic recipes that can be very versatile — thing simple recipes your can use fore more than one thing.
Shredded chicken for salads or pita pockets. Turkey burgers you can serve on an Ezekiel bun or with some greens or veggies, a simple baked salmon recipe that goes with anything. Or even just some easy grilled shrimp. You can really choose just about anything here.
Once you get more comfortable in with your basic meal prep routine, you can start adding in some new recipes. Try adding in one new recipe each week until you get the hang of it. Pretty soon you’ll be a meal prep master and can make some tasty combos like General Tso’s Meatballs…YUM!
Here are some ideas to get you started on your Meal Prepping:
- Overnight Oats
- Parfaits with simple granola & fruit
- Mini Veggie Egg Frittatas
- Greek Yogurt and Healthy Banana Nut Muffins
- Hard-Boiled Eggs & Ezekiel Toast
- Egg & Quinoa Breakfast Bowls
Lunches & Dinners
- Salads in a Jar
- Simple Fish & Veggie Packets (cook a few for the week ahead!)
- Pita Pocket Sandwiches
- Fajitas or Stir-Fry
- Healthy Shepherd’s Pie
- Soups – some favorites are Slow Cooker Turkey Chili + White Bean, Kale, + Quinoa Soup
- Any Protein, Veggies, and a Grain
- Fruit & Almond Butter
- Fruit & Yogurt, cottage cheese, or a small piece of Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese
- Homemade KIND Bars
- Veggies & Hummus or a Dip
- Easy Trail Mix or Trail Mix Clusters
Do you have any other tips on how to meal prep? What’s some of your favorite recipes to prepare each week? Let me know in the comments!