It’s been said that failing to plan is planning to fail, so let’s make a plan together! Having healthy meals on hand doesn’t have to be complicated.
What Is Meal Prep?
In simplified terms, meal prep is the act of preparing meals or meal components ahead of time and storing them in the fridge or freezer.
By putting in the effort ahead of time, makes getting meals on the table simple and efficient later on when you may be short on time.
- Plan your meals for the week! It only takes a few minutes to sit down and write or type out a recipe list for the week.
- Check out my Meal Planning Sunday Blogs here
- Cook once, eat 2-3 times. Casseroles and big pots of soups and stews are also great for this.
- On Sunday, or any day you choose, pick 3-4 make-ahead meals, create a shopping list from the ingredients, cross out what you already have on hand, then head to the store. Or even better order online! Spend 30-40 minutes grocery shopping, then 60-90 minutes cooking and prepping. You can create delicious and healthy go-to’s in less than a few hours once you have your routine down.
Meal Prep Containers
Having a set of dependable meal prep containers is important because it can help keep your food fresh and reheat it evenly.
- Pick up some glass storage containers and mason jars to portion out food. You want to be able to see what’s in the container so it doesn’t get pushed to the back and not used. You can find them on Amazon here.
- A large dutch oven is also perfect for cooking, storing and reheating food. Just let it come to room temperature before you put it in the refrigerator, and take care to not leave the cast iron rim too wet to prevent rusting. If you take care of this piece it will last a lifetime.
Mason jars are great to hold lots of different meals. Such as salads, oats, sauces….I like the pint sized the best.
Find ingredient overlaps. For instance, if you make shredded chicken for tacos, make extra to use in salads. The same goes for quinoa: if you’re making a little, double it for another recipe.
PRO TIP: Buy a Rotisserie Chicken or Costco sells Rotisserie Chicken already pulled off the bone! Saves a lot of time!!
When in doubt, combine a healthy protein, whole food carbohydrate, a veggie, and healthy fat. An example could be chicken or beans with sweet potato, quinoa, and sautéed greens.
Prepare items that are good hot, room temperature, or even cold. Frittatas, oats, quinoa, and even shredded chicken are all examples of things that are great at any temperature.
- reheat meals- fully cooked meals you simply need to reheat.
- assemble ahead meals- assemble ingredients ahead (don’t cook), then freeze for later.
- ingredient prep/portioning things out- no cooking required, simply chopping and portioning things out.
- buffet style- prep ingredients ahead and mix and match to create different combinations.
- batch prep- cook a single ingredient ahead and base several meals around it.
What Are The Benefits Of Meal Prep?
- save money– because you’re not wasting ingredients or buying your lunch
- save time– prepping components or whole meals ahead means less time cooking during the week
- reduce your stress– one less thing for you to worry about all week
- eat healthier– it’s hard to argue with convenience. Meal prep really takes willpower out of the equation!
Keeping It Simple To Start
It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you do too many things at once in the kitchen. I recommend that you pick just one meal to start.
Pick the meal that gives you the most trouble. Focus on that meal. Even prepping just one meal ahead will give you the benefits of meal prepping. I promise!
Here are four tips for food prep beginners:
- Keep it simple- like we discussed above, just picking one meal that pains you and focussing on that will prevent you from getting overwhelmed, and you will still feel the benefits of meal prepping!
- Schedule it- write it on your calendar. Block off time. Make it as difficult as possible to make excuses. I use Sunday’s!
- Use dependable recipes- it might not be the right time to try a crazy new recipe. Using recipes you know are easy and tasty is a great base to start off of. I love to find inpiration on Pinterest.
- I have lots of recipes pinned check out my pinterest here.
- Have fun and reward yourself- I like to crank up the music and have fun when I’m prepping. And it doesn’t hurt to bribe yourself with a coffee or a bit of chocolate, right? I also love that my husbband helps me meal prep!
What tips do you have? Do you meal prep? Let me know in the comments!
Hi!! I’m Kristin McConnell, creator of Innovative Health & Fitness, I am an Elite Fitness Trainer and a health and lifestyle blogger! I am a wife to my Amazing husband, Mom of two fabulous kids, and two dogs. We try our best to live a happy and healthy life.