You’ve probably heard of meal prepping—cooking your meals for a week ahead of time all at once, then storing them in your freezer or fridge until it’s time to eat. Maybe you’ve tried to meal prep, or maybe not. Whatever your level of comfort in the kitchen, we don’t want you to feel intimidated. Here’s our step-by-step guide for getting started with meal prepping.
Why Meal Prep?
If you’ve made it this far, odds are you know the benefits of meal prepping—and there are many! Let’s revisit just a few:
- It saves you time: this is a biggie. Meal prep is all about efficiency, efficiency, efficiency.
- It’s healthy: when you’re not pressed for time, trying to throw together pasta or a frozen pizza for the kids at the last second, you have the freedom to plan meals fully focused on nutrition. Crucially, meal prep means you can avoid processed foods and ingredients.
- It saves you money: meal prepping means you can take advantage of buying healthy ingredients in bulk to save money, instead of spending extra for every little garnish on different meals over the course of a week.
- It turbocharges your workout plan: you can tailor your meal prep for your goals: losing weight, gaining muscle, endurance training, crossfit, you name it. It also allows for perfect portion control—an important consideration if you’re tracking macronutrients and counting calories.
By following just a few basic organizing principles, you can make your meal prep easy. Later there will be time to make more detailed decisions (should you use miso paste or black bean sauce on your salmon?), but there are only a few simple steps you’ll need to get started. Good meal prep starts with a plan. The good news? By reading this, you’ve already started!
Set a Schedule
You’ll need to block off time to prepare all your meals (this is, obviously, the “prep” part of the process). Most people choose Sunday—it’s not part of the work week, but by then the weekend is winding down and you’ll have time to cook.
Build in a buffer
Make sure to block off this time completely, and even add in a little extra time than you think you’ll need. You don’t want to feel rushed—instead, add a little music (and maybe wine), to make your prep fun.
Decide how many meals you’ll need
This seems simple, so don’t overlook this step! Are you prepping for lunch and dinner? Are you including healthy snacks to keep you full in-between meals?
If cooking for a full week in one go seems daunting, try prepping twice a week to lighten the workload—a popular choice is to prep for just half a week on both Sunday and Wednesday.
What will you eat? You’ll want to find recipes that match your expertise in cooking, and you’ll want to consider how you’ll feel eating those meals in just a few days.
- Make a Menu: Some people are fine eating the same lunch every day of the week, while others need to alternate between two to three different options each week. Select meals tailored towards your specific nutritional and dietary needs, then make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need.
- Use tools: It can help you use a menu planner where you can fill out your meal choices—we like the template available for download at TKsourceTK. You can find a great resource for efficient and healthy meal prep recipes at TKplaceTK. Other sources include TKplaceTK, TKplaceTK.
- Beginner’s tip: don’t try to leap immediately to a new set of complicated recipes. To start, choose easy meals that you’re already familiar with, then just increase the number of portions you’re cooking (just imagine that you’re cooking for a dinner party–but you don’t have to set the table or do a bunch of dishes!).
You’ll need something to hold all your meals, and the choice of container is important! Containers with just one large compartment should usually be avoided—all your foods and flavors will blend together into one big messy mound. Your containers should be airtight, and preferably have separate sections (it helps if these are also airtight). For reheating, storage, and cleanup purposes, make sure your containers are microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe.
- Beginner’s tip: use clear containers. This will let you know what meal you’re grabbing as you run out the door in the morning without opening and closing several containers to find what you want.
This almost goes without saying, right? This is where the rubber meets the, er, frying pan. Here are a few tips for your time in the kitchen.
- Set it and forget it: Nothing’s easier than throwing something on a tray and letting it roast in the oven—chicken, cauliflower, squash, salmon—you name it, you can roast it. Likewise, the slow cooker is your friend. Whether it’s a new Insta Pot or a traditional crock pot, these devices can make for tasty dishes with a minimum of work on your part.
- Use interchangeable parts: As noted in the recipes section above, it helps to think of the building blocks of your meal. For example, your meals might all have a protein, veggie, starch, and fruit. Then simply make two of each category, then mix and match for various days.
There are so many benefits to meal prepping. With this guide, we hope you’ll take the plunge and start your own wellness journey! If you’re looking for an option that removes all of the hassle and consideration—then let My Pure Life do the meal prep for you! Visit our menus page to find out more.