Check out these tips and strategies on how to meal prep (and where to get recipe inspiration from) to come up with a plan that works best for you. Your fridge will be well-stocked and you’ll never have to cook every single night again!
Meal prep: most people either absolutely love it or absolutely hate it. I’m part of the former group. Cooking doesn’t sound remotely appealing to me after my long commute to work (1 hour each way) and workout. Needless to say, meal prep is basically my savior from Monday through Friday.
Since this simple strategy is such a huge part of my life, I thought it might be informative if I shared a post on how to meal prep here on the blog. This post outlines why I meal prep, what exactly I meal prep, and why you might want to consider it, too. Bear in mind that healthy eating is highly individual and what works for me might not work for you. Tweak things until they’re right for you and your schedule/preferences to set yourself up for the best chance of success. I hope you find this post helpful!
How to Meal Prep
Some people prefer to prepare full-on meals in advance that can simply be reheated. Others prefer to complete just the tedious tasks ahead of time, like chopping, so that they can save time when they cook each dish later. I’m sure there are other approaches, too! As for me, I’m all for cooking finished dishes from start to finish.
Each Friday, I start to brainstorm what sort of dishes I’d like to make for the week ahead. I narrow it down to 2 options that I can rotate between for lunch and dinner. Yes, this does mean that I repeat the same meals throughout the course of the week. However, I’m okay with this because I make meals I really want to eat. I also change up the meals every single week so I’m never bored (seriously, one of my resolutions is to admit that it’s okay to make the same recipe again).
Once I have two meals in mind, I write down a detailed list of ingredients I need to purchase and then buy everything during my Saturday morning grocery trip (usually to Trader Joe’s). I then dedicate a few hours each Sunday to preparing the meals. Some meals are much more complicated then others, so choose your meals knowing yourself and how much time you will realistically dedicate to meal prep. Remember, if you’re not realistic, you’re not going to stick to it!
Meal Prep Tips & Tricks
Let’s summarize my strategy and a few other meal prep tips & tricks for getting started:
- Consider selecting 2 meals for the week ahead and then fully prepare them ahead of time.
- Prepare an an easy protein option (or two) to keep on hand for easy meals, such as chicken meatballs and grilled chicken.
- Cook a big batch of brown rice, quinoa, whole grain or gluten-free pasta, and/or cauliflower rice to serve as a base for meals.
- Keep your produce drawer or freezer stocked with vegetables like broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, zucchini, etc. so you always have easy vegetable sides ready.
- If you don’t have time to fully cook two dishes, consider doing the “heavy lifting” in advance like chopping onions, peppers, broccoli (if not buying pre-chopped), etc.
- When you’re short on time, consider purchasing pre-chopped vegetables.
- Double or even triple recipes to eat throughout the entire week, or freeze half for later!
Meal Prep Inspiration
That said, I also love drawing inspiration from around the web, too. If you’re looking for ideas on where to find recipes, I use the following sources quite a bit:
- Cooking Light
- Eating Well
- Food Gawker
- Food blogs! I really like Skinnytaste, No Spoon Necessary, Love & Lemons, Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, Cooking Classy + so many more.
That’s all I’ve got for now. If you’d be interested in hearing more about my weekly meal prep choices or how my husband and I stick to our food budget, let me know! I’ve been thinking about sharing more on these topics and would love to know what you think.
Questions of the Day
Do you meal prep? If you do, you make complete meals or prepare ingredients ahead of time?
What are your favorite meal prep recipes?