Meal Prep 101: Getting Started

MEAL PREP. The words are daunting. I see lines of colorful and perfectly packed little containers. I see long hours of cooking and exhaustion. People who meal prep must be crazy, right? WRONG!

I’m here to help break the meal prep process down. By the end of this post, you will feel comfortable planning for prepping in your own kitchen. Read on, preppers!

healthy meal prep

 

Step 1: Get Containers

Start off on the right foot and choose a uniform container system for your prepped meals. I’ve tried various sizes and shapes and my current favorites are GladWare Entree Containers with Lids. I purchased 10 containers total and should probably purchase another 5 for backup. Feel free to shop around!

Ultimately, the containers you choose should be:

  • Affordable
  • Microwavable
  • Freezable
  • Great sealing lid
  • Perfect for storing lunch or dinner-sized portions

My GladWare favorites are only about $1.49 per container and meet the above criteria.

 

Step 2: Find a Recipe

meal prep healthy meal

A well-rounded meal should include greens, grains/complex carbs, and protein.

I have a game I play in the fridge – try to use everything before it expires! If I have leftover fruits, veggies or meats from another meal prep session, I will plan my next meal around those items. Other than that, each meal should contain:

  • Greens (salad, cooked or raw veggies)
  • Grains/Complex Carbs (grains, quinoa, rice, sweet potatoes, legumes)
  • Protein (poultry, beef, fish, eggs)

In my experience, looking for recipes on actual meal-prep sites is better than simply starting a healthy recipe hunt from scratch. Why? Because it is easier to find one meal-prep recipe for a well-rounded meal than 3 separate recipes to combine on your plate. Once you get more familiar with meal prepping, you’ll start to put your own meals together based on preps you’ve done in the past.

For some of my favorite meal prep recipes and sites, scroll to the end of this post!

 

Step 3: Make a Grocery List

I use the ShopShop App to create grocery lists. It’s simple and functional and helps to manage lists for multiple grocery stores at the same time. Oh, and the best part is that you can easily forward to a friend! BINGO!

meal prep grocery list

Example Grocery List in the ShopShop App

 

Step 4: Go Shoppin’!

Head to the store and GET TO WORK!

Shopping Tip: You can find (almost) everything you need in OUTSIDE AISLES of the grocery store. Stick to the SIDES to find the freshest foods (and to keep your diet in check!). Avoid the DANGER ZONE unless you’re popping in for items like rice, beans, dried fruits and healthy nut butter.

grocery store healthy food meal prep

Example Grocery Store Layout. Try to avoid the Danger Zone as much as possible!

 

Step 5: To Fridge or Freeze?

I often choose to prep foods that do well in the freezer to give them a longer lifespan.  Check out this article from My Body My Kitchen for some maximum freshness tips for fridge-ing and freezing your food.

 

Here’s the DEAL

Meal prep is not only going to help you with portion control at each meal, but it will also help you save time and money.

  1. SAVE MONEY: Buy in Bulk! Use more of each ingredient to create multiple meals rather than just one!
  2. SAVE TIME: 3 hour multi-meal prep vs. Daily 30-45 min prep.
  3. SAVE YOUR WAISTLINE: Think healthy home-cooked meal vs. sodium-packed pre-packaged meal.

I think that’s more than enough information to get you started on your meal prep journey! You’re ready!

Until next time!

 

 

 

References
Some of my favorite meal prep recipes and sites:

Meal Prep Sites for ideas and recipes:

Full Meals:

Proteins:

Greens:

Grains/Complex Carbs:

 

 

 

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