How To Meal Prep in 5 Easy Steps

Prepping your meals ahead of time can help you eat healthier, save money, and make more mindful eating decisions, but it can also be overwhelming. We’ve all been there… busy beyond belief and don’t feel like we have the time or energy to cook after a long day’s work. This scenario has plays time and time again, daily, and ends with us eating snack foods, canned soup, scrambled eggs or worse out of utter exhaustion.

Rather than turning to takeout or throwing a frozen meal in the oven, follow these simple tips and set yourself up for healthy success! You’ll not only save countless calories, you’ll establish a healthy routine and eliminate a lot of added stress. By putting in the effort ahead of time, this makes getting meals on the table simple and efficient later on when you may be short on time.

1. Start small
It’s hard not to compare yourself to others on Instagram who manage to get seven dinners and seven lunches figured out for their entire family in just one evening. If you put those kind of expectations on yourself, prepping your food will be a nightmare. In the beginning, focus on preparing just two days’ worth of meals at a time. See how much food you actually need to feel full so you can prepare the right amount. Once you get the hang of things, try preparing for three days.

2. Establish a routine
Establishing a routine is a smart thing you can do to set yourself up for successful meal planning and meal prepping. Try to plan to spend one day meal planning and a separate day grocery shopping. It’s going to be a challenge for the first few weeks. In the end, though, creating a regular routine is what is going to put healthy, well-planned meals on the table with ease. Choose a day of the week that you can spend adequate time meal planning and making a shopping list.

An example to help get you started:

Thursday: Create your upcoming week’s meal plan and come up with a grocery list.
Saturday: Go grocery shopping.
Saturday – Sunday: Meal prep for the upcoming week.

3. Buy containers
Give yourself a treat and buy some nice microwavable glass dishes before meal prepping. Having a meal prep set of containers keeps your meals uniform and is downright encouraging. Pyrex glassware with lids are a meal prep community favorite. They’re multi-functional because you can easily see what you have in the fridge, re-heat food in them and they’re dishwasher safe. Investing in storage containers is not only essential when it comes to meal prep, it allows you to properly portion out your leftovers throughout the week. If using storage baggies, try sucking the air out before closing a zip-loc bag. This can increase your foods shelf life, and you can even wash and re-use your storage bags a few times!

4. Start simple
Here’s a secret: making three days worth of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch is still meal prepping. There’s no shame in that meal prep game. You aren’t trying to impress anyone; meal prepping is all about your food and your needs, so start with simple recipes that you know you’ll like. Start with simple recipes means that you will build your confidence in your meal prepping abilities and feel comfortable expanding to more complicated recipes later, if you wish.

5. Don’t reinvent the wheel
Other people have already figured out how to meal prep, so just copy their suggestions. Here are five ways to prep a chicken bowl and here are nineteen recipes that can be made in one pan. Pinterest is the easiest and fastest way to find thousands upon thousands of meal prep ideas; start there and get inspired.

Good for you for making the choice to start prepping your food! These six tips are surefire ways to help carry your enthusiasm throughout the initial meal prep process. Remember: Don’t be discouraged if your first try isn’t perfect. Start with small steps and you’ll find that in no time you’ll be a meal prepping champion.