Learn how to meal prep quickly and efficiently each week by creating a plan. Use my expert tips to eat healthy meals with less effort.
Why Meal Prep?
There are many benefits of meal prepping such as:
- Saving time: Meals will come together quicker and you will spend less time at the grocery store because you'll have a plan.
- Reducing stress: You won't need to worry about what you're having for dinner each night, even when your schedule is busy.
- Saving money: Your grocery lists may be smaller because you can strategically use up ingredient leftovers before they go bad. You also won't be tempted to eat takeover as often.
- Making healthier eating easier: Whether you're cutting calories, trying to eat low-carb or have a dietary restriction, meal prep can help you get healthy meals on the table fast.
Planning Your Weekly Meals
The first step to making a meal prep plan is to first write your meal plan. I have a whole guide on my how I meal plan in 15 minutes that you can reference if you need more assistance.
Essentially, you'll want to:
- Make time for meal planning by choosing a day to decide on your weekly menu. I usually do this on Friday and I'll do my grocery shopping and meal prep on Sunday.
- Audit your fridge, freezer and pantry to identify ingredients you'll need to use up. Use this information to help you choose dishes for your menu.
- Refer to a “primary list” of recipes for meal ideas. This list consists of your favourite recipes, recipes you want to try and quick convenience meals like pasta with frozen meatballs and store-bought sauce.
- Look at your calendar and account for any plans you have. Consider when you may not need to cook or when you'll be too busy and will want to rely on leftovers instead.
- Put it all together and choose what meal prep recipes you'll be making on what day.
Note: You don't need to do any batch cooking if you don't want to. I typically only prep a breakfast (like overnight oats) and a lunch on top of my dinner prep. If I'm really ambitious, I will make some healthy homemade snacks, too.
If you're struggling to find meal prep ideas, check out this blog post for easy recipes including sheet pan meals, soups, mason jar salads, rice bowls and more.
Creating a Prep Checklist
Once you have your meal plan sorted, you should create a prep checklist. A prep checklist is a crucial step to streamline your meal prep routine and weekly cooking.
To create a prep checklist, you'll need to consult your recipes and identify steps that you can do ahead of time.
Here is a quick list of common steps you can include in your meal prep plan:
- Marinate proteins (try these salmon marinades or these marinades for chicken thighs for some delicious ideas)
- Chop/dice chicken breasts
- Press tofu
- Cook grains like quinoa, farro or brown rice
- Make hard boiled eggs
- Chop/dice vegetables (everything from onions and carrots to sweet potatoes and peppers)
- Mince garlic or ginger
- Grate cheeses
- Mix together sauces or spices
Make note of the prep steps you'd like to do for each recipe you're making. I typically only limit myself to three prep steps per recipe. For instance, if I was making a stir fry, my prep steps would be to cook rice, chop up my veggies then mix together a stir fry sauce.
You can download my free Meal Prep Template to write out your meal prep plan.
This step can take a long time, especially when you're first getting started. My meal planning app, Dinner Prep Pro, provides you with prep ahead instructions for recipes on top of weekly customizable meal plans. Try it for free now.
Doing Ingredient Prep
Once you've written down your prep plan and went grocery shopping, you can start doing your ingredient prep.
This is when you'll work through your prep plan and complete every step. Store all your prepped ingredients in separate meal prep containers so they'll be easy to grab from the fridge when you need to.
I will usually group similar prep steps and do them together (i.e. chop up all my veggies in one go). This makes my dinner prep go by faster.
I have a whole blog post on how you can ingredient prep in an hour for you to read if you want more tips.
Free Meal Prep Plans
If you need a few examples of meal prep plans, try one of these free meal plans. They each include recipes with steps for you to follow during your Sunday prep session.
Make healthy eating easy! Join our Dinner Prep Pro app.
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