Week 3: Plan And Prep Your Meals Like A Pro

Are you ready to get your meal prep on?

We sure hope so, because meal prepping is one of the best ways to ensure your clean-eating success. When you take time on the weekend to prepare a few meals and snacks in advance you’ll always have the answer to, ‘What’s for dinner?’

But before you can prep, you have to plan! We know, it sounds like a lot of work, but don’t worry: With our quick tips for meal planning and prepping, you’ll be a rockstar in no time.

If you’re still not convinced the meal prep life is for you, hear us out. Designating two or three hours to prepping on the weekend seems like a lot—but it sets you up for an entire week of easier healthy eating. (It’s also a great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen, too.)

Our goal is to help you feel less overwhelmed by the concept of meal prepping—and actually get excited to find your own groove with it. We guarantee these prep perks will sell you:

5 Perks of Meal Prepping

  1. You’ll have a fridge full of ready-to-eat foods for the week ahead. No matter what pops up during the week, you’ll have foods available that will nourish your body (and your family’s), fuel your workouts, and make choosing healthy foods easy all week long.
  2. You’ll save time during the week. No more running to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for a last-minute dinner or spending an hour or two in the kitchen each night preparing a meal. Instead, you can use that time to go for a walk, read a book, or whatever it is that you love to do.
  3. You’ll reduce food waste. When you’re more aware of what foods you have on-hand and what you need to use up, less of your grub will end up expired and in the trash.
  4. You’ll save money. With everything planned and pre-made, you’re free from impulse purchases at the grocery store—just stick to that grocery list!
  5. You’ll save yourself some stress. Let’s face it, getting home and having nothing ready or in mind for dinner is stressful. It feels good to know that you have a fridge full of healthy foods at your fingertips.

Now it’s time to put your meal planning and prepping into practice! Follow these simple tips to prep like a machine—without spending the whole day in the kitchen.

Basic Steps for Successful Meal Planning and Prepping:

Step 1: Take inventory and write down what you have on hand.

This will help you to reduce food waste and avoid purchasing anything you already have. It’s also a good time to throw out any foods that have reached their expiration.

Step 2: Make a menu for the week and write out your grocery list.

Once you know what you have on hand it’s time to make your menu. Go with a few tried-and-true recipes and try a couple new ones, too! We also recommend choosing one freezer-friendly recipe that you can double down on, so you can enjoy the meal this week and freeze the rest for an easy weeknight dinner down the line.

Step 3: Shop for groceries.

If you’re going to meal prep on Sunday, we recommend shopping on Saturday so that the food is as fresh as possible when you cook it. If it’s the right time of the year, you can even stop by your local farmer’s market. You’ll find super-fresh, high-quality ingredients while supporting your local farmers and growers.

Step 4: Put your groceries away and pre-wash and chop as much produce as you can.

Doing this now will streamline your meal prep and save you time. We’re all about saving time!

Step 5: Clean your kitchen.

Before you even begin your meal prep, set yourself up with a clean kitchen and be sure to have plenty of washed containers and lids ready. Another important pro tip: Clean as you go! This will you avoid an overwhelming amount of dirty dishes at the end of your prep.

Step 6: Turn on the tunes and start cooking!

Set aside at least one to two hours of uninterrupted time for your meal prep. Keep it simple. Stick to four to six recipes, unless time and energy allow for more. We recommend starting your prep with the items that take the longest. (These are typically the foods that have to bake in the oven or that are made in a slow cooker.)

Step 7: Organize your refrigerator so that the prepped meals are in-sight and easy to grab-and-go.

You can even date the prepared foods according to the day they’re on your menu.

We hope you find these steps helpful. If you’re still feeling a little overwhelmed, don’t sweat it. You can always ease into meal prepping by picking five items to prep. Maybe you bake a couple of sweet potatoes, cook some quinoa, hard-boil a dozen eggs, fill mason jars with your favorite overnight oats ingredients, whip up a couple of freestyle salads with whatever you have on hand, or broil wild-caught salmon for an easy protein choice. The options are endless! With a little experimenting, you’ll find your own meal prep go-to’s and a method that works for you.

Related: 8 Overnight Oats Recipes That Make Breakfast Taste Like Dessert

The only rule of meal prep: Have fun with it!