How to Make Meal Prepping Easy

The popularity of meal prep is steadily rising as more people become aware of its numerous advantages. Meal prep involves the strategic planning and preparation of multiple meals in advance, simplifying daily meal preparation to just a few easy steps. While it requires dedication and careful organization, meal prepping ultimately saves you valuable resources such as money, effort, and time, all while enhancing your overall health through proper nutrition.

Whether you want to avoid office cafeteria lunches or establish a sense of accountability and purpose in your diet, meal prepping offers an excellent solution.

Although the meal-prepping process may differ for each individual, the following tips for beginners can be invaluable to anyone seeking to facilitate healthier eating habits with ease.

14 Tips for Easy Meal Prep

1. Start Small

It can be intimidating to make a meal plan if you've never done it before or have been out of the routine. Making a meal planning routine is similar to making any other significant adjustment in your life. Starting small and gradually increasing your confidence is a fantastic strategy to ensure your new habit persists.

To get started, plan a few simple snacks or meals for the following week, such as a veggie dip, morning oats, or undressed salads (dress as you eat to avoid wilting lettuce). You will eventually learn which planning tactics work best for you. You may gradually expand your schedule by adding additional meals as needed.

2. Get Organized

Any great meal plan must start with good organization. Every meal preparation aspect is made easier with an organized kitchen. From creating recipes to shopping for ingredients, you'll always know where everything is and where you can find it quickly.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for organizing your food prep spaces. Make sure it's a system that suits your needs.

3. Consider Each Food Group

Whether you're planning meals for a month, a week, or just a few days, it's important to include foods from each food group.

The perfect meal plan includes wholesome foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, protein, and good fats while avoiding refined grains, excessive sugars, and unnecessary salt. Consider each of these food groups as you look through your favorite recipes. Do your best to fill in any gaps that may exist.

4. Pick Recipes with Shared Ingredients

Look for ingredients that may be used in a variety of recipes. For example, quinoa can be used in side dishes, salads, or lunch bowls. Roast chicken can be served as an entrée, in soup, or on sandwiches throughout the week. You can also freeze any leftovers if there are any.

5. Keep Your Pantry Stocked with Basic Ingredients

Make a habit of keeping basic, non-perishable ingredients stocked in your pantry. This tip is especially useful during particularly busy work weeks when you don’t have time to plan ahead. Some basic ingredients to keep at home may include pasta noodles, jars of pasta sauce, rice, meat, cheese, and vegetables.

Note: Put perishable ingredients in freezer bags and keep them in the freezer to extend the shelf life by months! As for produce, don’t be ashamed to buy frozen products every once in a while. They may not taste quite as good as fresh produce, but they’ll do the job in a pinch.

6. Plan for Leftovers and Repurpose Them

It's better to make more food than you think you need so that you can save some for leftovers. Making a few more servings of whatever you're cooking for dinner, you'll have lunch for the next day without any additional effort.

If you dislike leftovers, consider how you may repurpose them so that they no longer feel like leftovers. For example, you may use leftover roasted chicken for tacos, soup, or salad toppings the next day.

7. Clean as You Cook

One time-consuming aspect of cooking is cleaning up. If you’re a proficient enough cooker, start cleaning as you cook to reduce your clean-up time significantly. With practice, simultaneously cooking and cleaning can be a relatively easy habit to form. For example, while you’re waiting for something to bake in the oven, start cleaning the small kitchenware–like bowls, measuring cups, and silverware–and save the larger items–like pots and pans–for the end.

Click here to download the Social Media 101: A Guide for the 50+ Generation eBook!

8. Invest in High-Quality Storage Containers

One of the most significant pieces of meal prep equipment is high-quality food storage containers. Working with a pantry brimming with mismatched containers and lidless containers might make the meal prep procedure irritating. Investing in high-quality containers is well worth your effort and money.

Consider the intended usage of each container before making a purchase. Choose freezer-safe, microwave-safe, or dishwasher-safe containers if you intend to freeze, microwave, or clean them in a dishwasher.

Glass containers are both environmentally friendly and microwave-safe. They're readily available in shops and online. It's also helpful to have a collection of sizes for various foods.

9. Pre-Portion Your Meals

You can save time over the week by dividing large meals into single, ready-to-go servings, which can also help you avoid overeating. Fill a resealable plastic bag or a glass container with each serving. Stews, soups, and broths can also be poured into silicone muffin molds, frozen, and then popped into a plastic bag once hardened. Then, simply reheat and serve when ready.

10. Scheduling When You'll Do the Cooking

Meal prep can seem overwhelming, and if you're not careful, you could waste a whole day preparing food. Therefore, create a weekly meal planning schedule to best utilize your time. For example, go grocery shopping to get all of the ingredients for the recipes you’ll be making on Saturdays and do the actual cooking on Sundays.

Sundays are a popular day for meal prepping since most people don’t work the weekends, and it’s a great way to get your week off to a great start. Trying to cram meal prep into your workday may be too overwhelming and discourage you from getting into a consistent meal-planning routine.

11. Consider Meal Swapping

One downfall to meal prepping is getting sick of eating the same meal multiple days in a row. If you don’t have the capacity to prepare more than one meal that you can alternate eating every other day, consider setting up a meal-swapping schedule with a friend, neighbor, roommate, or family member!

When making your weekly meal plan schedule, talk to your meal-swapping buddy to ensure you don’t make a similar meal, as the whole point of meal-swapping is to have variety. For instance, maybe you make pasta, and your meal-swapping buddy makes soup.

Note: When looking for a meal-swapping buddy, consider their location in relation to yours. You’ll want to find someone who lives nearby to avoid adding long travel time as a stressor to your schedule.

12. Learn to Multitask

When people first begin food prep, they frequently focus on a single task, which is fine, but it sometimes takes them much longer to complete their food prep, which can be discouraging. Once you've done that a few times and are more comfortable, multitasking in your kitchen is a real game-changer. However, don’t take on too much at once if you’re not comfortable with this process yet. Go at your own pace and develop a more efficient cooking technique over time.

To multitask, you can have something cooking on the stove, baking something in the oven, cooking something in the crockpot, and something–like chopping vegetables–on the counter simultaneously, enabling you to accomplish more in less time.

13. Ask for Help

It can be challenging to stay motivated to prepare a new meal (or meals) every week, but you don't have to do it alone. If you're cooking primarily for yourself, ask your friends what they're making or look for inspiration online, such as on social media or through food blogs.

If you're responsible for preparing meals for the whole family, don't hesitate to ask your loved ones for input or assistance. Having even one extra set of hands can significantly speed up the process and make it more enjoyable.

14. Have Fun

Whether meal prepping by yourself or with someone else, consider having music or a show in the background, making the time go by faster and the process more fun. If you’re new to cooking and aren’t confident enough to cook and watch a show simultaneously, listening to music is an excellent option for you. If you’d prefer a show to music but are worried about getting distracted, try finding a cooking show to follow along!

This tip is especially useful if you’re not the biggest fan of cooking, serving as somewhat of a distraction from the task at hand. One more way to turn meal prep from a to-do list item into a hobby is by pouring a glass of wine to sip on while cooking!

Simplifying meal prep can significantly contribute to a healthier lifestyle by promoting balanced nutrition, saving time, and reducing stress associated with daily meal preparation. By incorporating these practical tips into your routine and maintaining a positive mindset, you'll be well-equipped to begin your successful meal prep journey. Here's to happier, healthier eating habits!

Click the button below to subscribe to our blog for more content like this!