I started meal prepping two years ago and it has literally changed my life for the better. Before meal prep, I opted for the fastest and easiest meal I could throw together. Once I started going to the gym consistently, I knew I needed to find a better way to nourish my body and create healthier eating habits.
There are a lot of misconceptions about meal prep but I’m here to tell you that it will only make your life easier by saving you time, money and stress! When I first started, I had no idea what I was doing but after two years of consistency I’d like to consider myself a meal prepping machine. So here’s the low down on meal prepping 101 with my favorite easy meal prep tips.
Keep it simple
It’s easy to get burnt out when you’re just starting out meal prep. To avoid this, stick to food you know how to make. I don’t love to spend hours upon hours in the kitchen, so simplicity in my meals is my best friend. Since I meal prep both my lunch and dinner, I make sure to first choose what protein I want for each meal. Then I pick two vegetables or starches for each meal to complement my protein source.
Remember, it’s all about creating healthier eating habits so don’t overcomplicate. There are so many ways to make your simple meal delicious, so stick what you know when you’re starting out!
Find what works for you
How you meal prep will be based on your lifestyle, goals and preferences. Play around with what day you make your meals, how many meals you make per week, and how you choose to assemble them.
Do you prefer to make half your meals on Sunday and then make the rest on Wednesday? Or do you want to hash them all out on Sunday? Find out what works best for you so it’s easier for you to stick to your plan. Are you going to start out by making ALL your meals or only lunch and dinner? Will you have a set menu or will you assemble your meals with varying foods before eating? There are so many ways to customize meal prep to fit your life, you just have to experiment.
Okay, so you’ve probably heard this a thousand times but planning ahead is crucial for meal prep success. Having no action plan will make grocery shopping stressful and last longer than it should. I find that I am more motivated when I do my planning on Saturdays and my cooking on Sundays. That splits up the work that I have to do and it doesn’t feel like such a chore on a day that I just want to relax. I find that using my phone for a grocery list allows me to instantly mark things off and I won’t have to worry about ever forgetting my list. Grocery list tip: list your items based on where they are physically located in the store – that way as your making your way everything you need will be at arm’s reach!
Stay flexible & motivated
Meal prep on some weeks is going to be easier than others. Since I work a 9-5, I meal prep during the weekend. But some weekends are so eventful that it’s hard for me to find the time to get it done. If this happens, I’ll dedicate my Monday night to grocery shopping and meal prep. It’s not my favorite way to do it but I stay motivated in knowing that it’ll save me so much time, money and stress during the week. Don’t stress out and throw in the towel if your life gets in the way. Be flexible and move things around to fit your meal prep around your life!
Make clean up easy
If you’re like me and you hate the cleaning part of cooking, you’re going to want to get your hands on aluminum foil and parchment paper. A lot of your meals will be made in the oven, so lining your trays with first aluminum paper and then a sheet of parchment paper will cut down your cleaning time immensely. Some people like to just use aluminum foil but according to a 2012 study published in the International Journal of Electrochemical Science, the aluminum can leech onto your food depending on different factors. To avoid the increased health risk, I counter this by putting a sheet of parchment paper on top.
Once you start meal prepping consistently, you will realize that the time and effort are truly worth the benefits to help you create healthier eating habits.
Now that you know my favorite easy meal prep tips, what are some of yours?