It gets easier the more often you do it.
Meal Prep for Beginners
Eliminate the stress and time factor of having to cook every single night by meal prepping! It saves you time in the kitchen and helps keep you on track with healthy eating! You can prep and plan for just dinners, lunch and dinner, or even all three meals of the day and snacks too! The amount of prep you do, depends on how much time you have to dedicate to prepping and your personal preferences.
I prep my lunch and dinners for the week, cut up my cucumbers and any other fresh veggies/fruits that need slicing, as well as all my meats and dinners for the week (except fish where I like to cook that the night of and then cook enough for other meals during the week).
So what exactly is meal prepping?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, essentially it is planning and prepping your meals in advance for the week. This means cooking items in bulk and eating leftovers! For those of you who just groaned and are turned off to the thought of left overs, listen up, I used to hate left overs. Now I rejoice in their existence and you should too! Left overs are a wondrous time saver!
Before beginning any meal prep, I advise you to have a plethora of tupperware containers on hand, you are going to need them! If you want to go hog wild, I suggest buying tupperware of similar sizes/shapes so you can easily stack them in your fridge, making your meal prep more space efficient so your fridge doesn’t become a war zone of toppling tupperware containers.
Beginner’s Guide to Meal Prep
The Two P’s – Plan and Prep
Please remember, I am not a nutritionist, dietician, or personal trainer, this is just what works best for me and my body. Everyone’s idea of “healthy” varies, and that is okay! See a meat, veggie, or starch on here I didn’t list? It’s probably because I don’t eat it, so have no fear if I forgot to mention one of your favorite staples, this is just my go to list!
– Pick one day a week as your “plan and prep” day
– Grocery shop on this day as well!
-Sunday is the day I use
1. Plan your meals for the week out using the following guideline:
– Protein + Starch + Vegetable (and be making sure to get your healthy fats in!)
– Protein options that I recommend: I have put a * next to my favorites!
– Chicken Breasts* Boneless, Skinless
– Low sodium deli turkey or chicken (nitrate free if possible)
– Ground Beef – 85% lean or higher
– Ground Turkey* – 93% lean or higher*
– Fish – Salmon,* Tilapia, Shrimp*
– Eggs (hard boil a bunch for the week!)
– Steak, Pork, or Sausage are all options too, but I don’t eat those meats enough to offer advice on how to best prepare them for meal prep!
– Vegetarian or Vegan?
Try plant based proteins:
beans (black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, etc.) edamame, tofu, tempeh !
– Starch options: opt for whole grain, complex carbohydrates as your fuel!
I have put a * next to my favorites!
– Quinoa*— you can add whatever flavors/spices of dish to quinoa to boost flavor
– Sweet potato*
– Brown rice*
– Rice Varities: Jasmine*, Basmati*, Wild Grain*, Etc.
(there are other options as well but I just gave a ‘basic’ list)
– Vegetable options: leafy greens are your best bet here! I have put a * next to my favorites!
– Green Beans*
– Red, Yellow, Orange Peppers*
– Bok Choy
– Spaghetti Squash* (unsure if this is even considered a vegetable)
– Sugar Snap Peas
2. Check to make sure you have all the ingredients for all recipes before hand!
3. Add necessary items to the shopping list
1. Grocery shop for the week
2. Peel, chop, cut all raw veggies for the week to put in lunch or to have as a snack
(Healthy choices are easier to make when they’re ready to be eaten!)
3. Repeat the process for any fruit that requires cutting to be eaten
4. Prep your protein/meals (see below)
– Make specific meals to eat as alternating left overs
– Make items to store in the freezer and eat at a later time
– Make your meat “basic” to be used in a variety of ways through out the week
Now, you can take prepping as far as you want to.
1. Cook enough protein, veggies, starches to eat for the week
(keeping these items basic will make them more versatile to use during the week)
2.Cook two meals to generate enough meals to alternate for the week (five/six days of dinners)
– Make ground turkey meatballs and freeze for a later date
– Make homemade turkey burgers for now and to freeze for a later date
– Crockpot freezer meals, google this! I am not at that level of prepping but its possible and with the Chili recipe I recommend to most of my fitness challengers, that keeps for the week in the fridge and gets better after a few days of sitting.
Cooking – cook as much of your protein that you would like to have for the week
– Grill chicken in bulk with a variety of seasonings to switch up the flavor during the week
– Bake chicken in bulk
– Use your crockpot! Makes enough of a dish to have for the week!
– Cook chicken in chicken broth in the crockpot and use as shredded chicken to add to recipes for the week (think chicken salad, chicken tacos, to put on top of salad)
– Sauté ground turkey with a little bit of garlic powder
(eat as is through out the week or create dishes with it such as tacos, beef and peppers, etc.)
– Hard boil enough eggs for the week as a lunch option or go to protein based snack
– When I meal prep, I meal prep in two ways, based on my schedule for the week:
1. Basic Meal Prep. I make all of my lean proteins very “basic” so they are more versatile for
eating through out the week. For example, I will cook my ground turkey with only garlic powder,
or grill my chicken with just seasoning as opposed to a marinade. Or I bake four different types
of marinated chickens, so while I am still eating chicken all week long, it is a variety of flavors!
I do all my cutting up of vegetables and fruits on this day, in addition to cooking all of my
protein, starches, and veggies!
2. Meal Prep Dinner Based. I do all my cutting up of vegetables and fruits on Sunday, and cook
one of my meals, ensuring I have enough to eat for that night, and Monday, and one other day one of my meals, ensuring I have enough to eat for that night, and Monday, and one other day
during the week. Then, on Tuesday I will cook because I have time, for that night, and one or
two other days of the week. I cook twice to ensure a rotating schedule of left overs so I do not
become sick of what I am eating. This is a “dinner based” meal prep, meaning I will eat the
same two dinners through out the week, on alternating days.
– MAKE YOUR LUNCH THE NIGHT BEFORE HAND, or even multiple nights in advance! Prepping lunch ahead of time is much less work on you and ensures you have a nutritious and delicious lunch to fuel you through the day
– When buying ground meat, make your burgers or meatballs ahead of time while the meat is already defrosted so you can freeze them in bulk and pull them out to use at a later date. If the meat is already “prepped” then all you need to do is simply cook it to enjoy its’ deliciousness.
– Everyone meal preps at different intensities or “levels” I will call them. The level of meal prep depends on their schedule, health goals and time willing to dedicate to prepping. For example, I consider myself a beginner to intermediate meal prepper, since I prep for usually four to five days worth of dinner, a few days of breakfast, and all my healthy snacks. An advanced prepper would be an individual who has all seven dinners, possibly even lunch and breakfast prepped and may even dabble in freezer meal prep (something I have not tried yet but involves cooking and freezing meals to defrost and enjoy at a later date).
Remember, do what works best for you though, if cooking everything at once on Sunday is too much because that’s your day of rest, pick two days to meal prep then, this is what I do sometimes!
Attatched are a few Clean DIY seasonings that I love using.
I LOVE this pic of meal prep.
Use this Meal Plan, Recipes and Shopping list to get started!