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Meal Prep Tips

Whether you're a meal prep beginner or pro, this list of 10+ meal prep tips and tricks can help you quickly and easily prepare for the week!

This is a pinterest pin for meal prep tips and tricks. There are 6 containers with prepped and chopped veggies, chicken, and chicken sausage. The title of the post is in the middle of the picture.

What is meal prep?

Meal prep is any preparation of a meal or food ahead of time. In my world, meal prep usually refers to preparing 3-7 days worth of food at one time. There are several ways to meal prep (such as buffet-style meal prep or batch-style meal prep), but it's taking the time to prepare foods earlier to save time later. Whether you spend 20 minutes or 2 hours preparing for the week, any time counts! It can look like packing leftovers, portioning out a casserole for lunch, or roasting a bunch of vegetables to use later. For example, think of packing all of your lunches on Sunday afternoon so they are ready for your work week. It's that exact thing, but with flexibility for all your upcoming meals. It might sound intimidating, but with a few meal prep tips and tricks, you can start meal prepping too!

Why meal prep?

There are so many benefits of meal prep! The reason why a person chooses to meal prep varies. If you're on the fence about meal prep, check out my post about the benefits of meal prep. Here are a few reasons how meal prep can benefit you.

  • Save money
  • Save time
  • Reduce food waste 
  • Feel prepared
  • Create more healthy options
  • Stay on track with your goals
  • Improve cooking skills 
  • Develop a routine 
  • Reduce stress 
  • Ease in the grocery store 

Meal prep tips

One of the great things about meal prep is that there isn't a right or wrong way to do it. There are some strategies that work well for some people, but that others might not enjoy. You have the ability to change what you do each week depending on what your time, preference, and skills. Over the past few years I have been able to learn new strategies and change how I meal prep, so I want to share some of my meal prep tips.

  • Keep it simple. If you're new to meal prepping, keep things simple. You don't need to prep every single meal and spend hours in your kitchen. Start by picking one or two meals or small batches of foods to prep. As you build your confidence and become better at meal planning, you can start to add in more prepping tasks.
  • Make a schedule. Spend a few minutes writing a meal plan for the week. Figure out what foods you have, what you need, and what you want to make. Consider if you're going out for any meals, when you're going to the grocery store, and when plans might interfere with eating at home. For example, I use my meal planning sheet to write out my plan for the week and stick it on the fridge so me and my husband know what our meals are for the week!
  • Work ahead. Once you figure out a schedule for the week, take some time to see if there's anything you can do ahead of time. Are there any meals you could make in advance? Any fruits or vegetables you can wash and chop for quick access? Even taking a few minutes to prepare can make a big difference! For example, I like to make my breakfast and lunch the night before so I can quickly grab and go in the morning.
  • Research recipes. There are so many recipes you can use for inspiration. It's important to find recipes that actually look interesting and sound good to you! Personally, I love to make healthy recipes that have less than 10 ingredients. I give bonus points to recipes I can make in a slow cooker and use all week long! If you're stuck, check out my Pinterest or recipes on my blog for some easy, healthy meal ideas.
  • Have fun with meal prep. Make meal prep a time you actually enjoy! You can listen to a podcast, bump a good playlist, call a friend, or even have someone help you. When I was in college I even used to watch movies while I meal prepped! Try to incorporate something fun to make the time more enjoyable, especially if you don't always enjoy being in your kitchen.
  • Invest in containers. Having a few meal prep glass food storage containers are helpful while you're getting ready for the week. Storing prepared foods in containers will make it really easy to grab and go during the week. Make sure the containers are durable and dishwasher, freezer, microwave and preheated oven safe.
  • Use your slow cooker. One of the easiest ways to meal prep is to dump a bunch of ingredients into a slow cooker and let it do all the work for you. Slow cookers are so helpful for meal prep and when life gets busy! There are so many amazing slow cooker recipes, like all of the recipes from Slow Cooker Gourmet.
  • Focus on the parts. Sometimes people think they need to meal prep an entire week of meals to successfully meal prep. I'm here to tell you that's not true! If you want to do it, that's amazing and I applaud you. However, you can also think about some parts you can meal prep. For example, if you're going to make stir fry, consider preparing the rice and veggies just to make things easier throughout the week.
  • Portion out snacks. It's helpful to spend some time portioning out snacks or parts of meals for the week. This saves time during the week, helps create healthier options to choose from, and helps to avoid overeating. For example, I will grab a few small containers or reusable bags and portion out trail mixes, veggies and hummus, or fruit and yogurts for snacks for a few days.
  • Assemble ingredients. It can be helpful to gather and prepare ingredients for a meal, even if you don't fully cook it. For example, if you're going to make a casserole for dinner, you could spend a couple of minutes in the morning getting out cans, seasonings, and other ingredients you might need so you can start cooking right when you get home from work.
  • Pre-Cook meals. If you don't mind heating up foods, you can take the time to pre-cook meals so it's easy to reheat them throughout the week. This is really easy to do with big batch recipes like soups, chilis, and casseroles. You could even make a double batch of a recipe and put half in your fridge and half in your freezer to have in the future!
  • Switch up meals. Another myth of meal prep is you have to eat the same meals everyday for a week. That's not true! Regardless of the style of meal prep you choose, you can definitely add in variety and rotate what you eat. Even if you are using the same ingredients, you can use sauces and spices to change up flavors so your meals taste different. For example, I love to make a cashew chicken quinoa bake and sometimes I'll put it over greens to make a salad, in a tortilla to make a burrito, or straight out of a bowl.

The kinds of meal prep

  • Buffet Style Meal Prep. This style of meal prep is when you pick a few proteins, grains, vegetables, or fruits that you can use all week long in various ways. For example, if you prepare chicken, sweet potatoes, peppers and onions, and quinoa, you could use those ingredients to make a salad, stir fry, or a buddha bowl.
  • Batch Style Meal Prep. This style of meal prep is when you pick 2 or 3 recipes that you make ahead of time and eat throughout the week. For example, you could make a pot of chili, a casserole, and soup and use those for lunches and dinners all week long.
  • Change your style. It's okay to change the style of meal prep every week! Some weeks I meal prep buffet style and sometimes I prep in a batch style. It really just depends on how I'm feeling, the ingredients I have, and what my week looks like. I encourage you to find what works for you and change your style accordingly.

Want to know more about meal prep?

I love sharing meal prep tips! Here are a few other resources about meal prep:

  • Weekly Meal Plan Template: This template is a free, printable resource to help you create an attainable weekly meal plan. Each template serves as a resource to make a meal plan, shopping list, and prep schedule for the week.
  • Meal Prep for Beginners: This is the ultimate guide to meal prep for beginners. This guide includes tips, strategies, and resources to master meal prep.
  • Weekly Meal Plan Template: This template is a free, printable resource to help you create an attainable weekly meal plan. Each template serves as a resource to make a meal plan, shopping list, and prep schedule for the week.