Cooking can be exhausting after a long day of work. The prepping, the cooking, and then the clean up is just too much for a Monday. In this situation, many of us opt for a quick take-out meal. Eating out starts to add up, though, and it’s almost impossible to control the nutritional value of a fast-food order. If you’re tired of resorting to take-out or freezer meals on busy evenings, there’s an easy and convenient way to take your health into your own hands.
Meal prepping for the entire week saves you time, reduces your waste, and lets you control the nutritional value of every meal. Dedicate a few hours at the beginning of the week (Sunday is a good day for this), to organizing and preparing meals for your busiest workdays. If you want to learn how to meal prep, keep reading for tips that are perfect for meal prepping beginners.
How To Meal Prep
Map out your meals for the week
The first step of meal prep is mapping out all your meals for the week. Write out what you are going to make for each meal, every day. When meal prepping, try to vary what you eat from day to day so that you don’t get bored and fall into your old habits.
Write out a grocery list
Nothing is worse than getting home from the grocery store only to realize you forgot to pick up an essential ingredient. When making your meal map, add all the ingredients and snacks you will need throughout the week to your grocery list. Opt for healthy snacks, like nuts and fruit, and don’t buy more than you need.
Cook the food for the week
Designate a day of the week you’re consistently less busy as “meal prep day.” This can be a nice Sunday activity that will make you feel prepared for the week ahead. Put as much of the meals together ahead of time as you can. If you’re making a salad, you can most likely assemble everything but the dressing on your meal prep day. Think about meals that can be served cold or are easily reheated all together.
Store it properly
You can either store your food by ingredients or as specific meals, depending on what your meal prepping goals are. If you are trying to lose weight, storing your meals for the week exactly as you will eat them can help you with portion control.
Tips for Meal Prep Success
- Use recipes that have common ingredients.
- Cook and chop ahead of time so you can make bowls.
- Make sure that meals can be stored in the fridge or freezer to maintain freshness.
- Stock up on healthy ingredients.
- Dinner always makes a great lunch the next day.
- Try making sheet-pan or one-pot meals to save time—Pinterest has pages of these easy-to-make recipes!
Best Foods for Meal Prepping
- Meat, chicken, tofu, or turkey
- Roasted vegetables or hearty vegetables like carrots, peppers, kale, and radishes.
- Nuts and seeds for salads and snacks
- Cheese, in moderation
- Sauces and dips to spice up your meals!
Pro tip: For filling, healthy meals, aim to get a veggie, a protein, and a carbohydrate in each meal.
- Some vegetables, like sweet potatoes, corn, and cauliflower, are higher in carbs and can be paired with a protein and a leafy green for a powerhouse lunch.
- Beans make a complete protein source when paired with rice or corn. Top these combos with veggies, salsa, and tofu for a yummy Tex-Mex bowl.