Decide how many meals you need to actually prep. For example, you may just need lunches because you can make breakfast & dinners at home. Or, you may need lunches and dinners because the last thing you want to do when you get home after work is cook! And maybe you need all three meals because life is crazy and the less cooking/decision making throughout the week, the better! Regardless of how many meals you need to prep in advance, I’d still recommend PLANNING all of your meals. Again, the less you have to think about what to make for ‘x’ meal the better. This also helps make grocery shopping easier and helps you avoid buying things you don’t need / wasting food. SO, get a pen & paper (my personal favorite), make an excel sheet or click HERE for my meal planning PDF!
Deciding WHAT you want to eat for each meal. There’s a couple of ways you can meal prep. You can make the same breakfasts, lunches, dinners for the entire week OR do what I call a buffet style prep (see photo at the top) where you cook a bunch of different things in bulk and mix and match them with different sauces & seasonings throughout the week. This is great for those who don’t like eating the same things every day but enjoy the convenience of meal prep. Doing a buffet style prep allows you to be less regimented when it comes to planning ahead but you will have to do your best to estimate how much you’ll need to make of everything to last the whole week. The guidelines I like to follow per meal are including: a protein source, a carb source, a fat source & a veggie. Following that structure will keep you fueled & focused until your next meal! Also, don’t hesitate to load up on herbs & spices and add on some sauces/dressings for maximum flavor! I personally am a huge fan of using different oils/fats (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, ghee, butter) and good ol salt to enhance flavors of veggies! I also like finding dressings that have simple ingredients & low/no sugar to really make things tasty.
Make your grocery list. Based on the meals & snacks you want for the week, write out everything you need. I recommend organizing your list based on the set up of your store to make your trip easy & efficient! Typically, sticking to the perimeter of the store will help you avoid processed food, void of nutritional value. Pantry items like oats, oils, rice, spices, etc. and frozen veggies will be found on those inner isles but try to stick to produce, meat/fish, eggs and some dairy for the most part!
Get cooking! So where do you start when it comes to actually cooking!? Begin by taking out everything you are going to prepare, the cookware you’ll need to prep it and the containers you’ll use. I usually start by turning the oven on to 400 degrees, while that heats up I begin chopping up all my veggies and meats that need to be cut. Once everything is ready to be cooked, get it going! I usually bake my veggies in the oven (brussel sprouts, potatoes, carrots etc) and cook lean beef on the stovetop. Also on the stovetop, cook things like rice and other grains for your carb sources. I’d recommend starting this at the beginning because it takes a while to cook. Always start with the items that take the longest and can be left alone for a bit (potatoes & rice for example). Another easy carb source I enjoy is canned beans because you don’t have to cook them, just rinse and portion! You can also use cans of tuna or buy precooked meats to skip the whole cooking process entirely! Sometimes I use pre made grilled chicken or chicken sausage for example. I really enjoy using the crockpot for my chicken as well. All I do is turn the pot on high, spray it with cooking spray, add the chicken with a little liquid and let cook for three hours. It’s done when you poke it with a fork and it easily falls apart. Shred and add sauce of choice!
Portion or store in bulk containers! For portioning, I like either using a food scale to measure out recommended portions (as shown on label of the food) OR doing the palm sized portion protein, first sized serving of veggies & carbs and thumb sized portion of fats (oils, butter etc) or a little less than 1/4 cup if its fats like cheese, nuts or avocado. Your portions will also vary depending on your gender & goals. Men & those looking to gain muscle may want to add more to each of these guidelines! Everyone is going to have different needs, if you need help with this, don’t hesitate to reach out : ) Meals are good for 4-5 days in the fridge. You can also freeze them if you know you wont eat them within that window.
If there is ONE tip I could give when it comes to meal prep is to spread this whole process over a few days to make it WAY less overwhelming. For example, I personally plan my meals/make my list on Friday (20 min), go shopping on Saturday (30-45min) and prep on Sunday (60-90min)! Of course you can do it however you’d like, this is just what I’ve found works best for me and allows me to actually stick with it. Doing everything in one day is just too much (for me) but breaking it up like that makes it so much more realistic & easy to make a lasting routine out of. Keep in mind too, this kind of thing takes A LOT of practice & trial and error to get the groove of. Be patient and be willing to take notes & learn. I’ve been meal prepping for 5 years and I still make mistakes & horrible meals haha. It happens, you have to be willing to experiment & learn from your mistakes.
I hope this was helpful and as always, click that reply button if you have any feedback or questions!!