A lot of people I talk to are intimidated by thought of meal prepping. But it is really SO simple. And after you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start earlier! I’m gonna go through my basic steps to meal prepping like a champ!
1.Plan out your meals for every day
Start by sitting down and literally making a plan of all of your meals for the entire week. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, for at least 5 – 7 days. Write it out! I go day by day and list everything my husband and I will eat. It’s a little easier for me because I’m only cooking for two, but it can still be really easy if your cooking for a whole family. Here is what it looks like when I plan it out meal by meal (my husband and my meals are combined here).
Once I got the hang of how much we would eat, it was much easier to write a list of just the meals we were going to eat for the week instead of writing out meal by meal and day by day. It was definitely easier for me to start planning it day by day until I got the hang of it, so I’d recommend trying it that way first. But now, I just write out our meals for the week.
2. Make a grocery list
Once I know what I’ll be cooking for the week, I go through our pantry and fridge and see what we already have. I make a list of everything else we still need for the week. I am kind of an OCD, so to make things easier for me and a faster trip to the store I organize everything on my list in order of layout of the store. I start with fruits and veggies, move to meat, then dairy, then hit the inner isles of the store (if needed). This keeps me from skipping anything on my list and I don’t have to keep walking back and forth around the store. TIP: Stick to the outer isles of the store, these are the freshest items. The inner isles contain items with more preservatives and added sugar, etc. I’m not saying don’t shop the inner isles, I’m just saying if you are looking for healthier items, they are usually around the perimeter of the store (in my opinion).
This is what a usual trip to the store might look like:
3. Cook your food
Now your home with all this food and it’s time to prep it! This is where I find people start to get overwhelmed and I think this is one of the easiest parts! Just start by cooking one food at a time. Then once you get a better grasp on it, you can start to cook multiple foods at the same time to save yourself some time.
I start with the food the will take me the longest to cook. For example, I typically start with my lunches. This week I planned to eat baked chicken or turkey burgers with steamed mixed veggies, while my husband will eat leftovers. So I start by cutting my chicken in 4oz portions and seasoning them with some southwest seasoning (for added flavor). The I pop them in the oven! While those are in the oven, I would start steaming my mixed veggies.
I do this for any of the food I bought that needs to be cooked. But note, I do not prep our dinners. Before I was married I would prep my dinners as well because I have no problem eating the same thing all week. But my husband can’t eat like that, so dinners are now the only thing I will cook during the week. Then the leftover dinners are what becomes my husbands lunch for the next day or two.
4. Separate into daily containers
Once I have all the food cooked, I put everything into containers and/or baggies so they are ready to go each day! I prep for five days, so I start with bagging up my grapes, then my almonds, then my carrots and tomatoes, the granola, etc. Then I put my chicken and mixed veggies into containers for my lunch. Again the only thing that is not ready to go is our dinners, but they are not that hard to make during the week. So my finished product will look something like this:
When I first started prepping it probably took me about two hours to get everything done. But, once I was used to it it takes me maybe 30 minutes to 1 hour now (depending what I cook). It really saves us so much time during the week not having to cook lunches every day! Just plan out your meals and everything will go so much smoother, trust me! These are just the things that have helped me the most, other things may work for you and your family better.