Normally I’m not one to jump on passing trends (at least not until they’re horrendously out of style 😉 ), but the one thing I have hopped onto is meal prep. Making meals (breakfast and dinner mainly) ahead of time for the week has proved to be helpful not only in terms of time and effort, but in terms of nutrition as well! There are tons of benefits to meal prepping, and each person will have their own experience with it – I feel like it’s a very polarizing topic. But one thing is for sure: if you’re looking to see how it works out for you, knowing where to start is the hardest part!
When I started meal prepping, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea if I was supposed to make full meals, or just components to throw together, or if I was able to make just breakfast, or just dinner, or all three meals. But with a little bit of planning, it all came together really easily! I’ve laid out the steps I took to getting started with my meal prep – this method is the easiest way to make meal planning work for you and your goals!
- Set your goals: Are you looking to start meal planning to hit a weight goal? Or are you looking to add more time to your daily schedule? Setting these goals will help you decide how many meals a day you would like to prep, and how many days total you’d like to make meals for. If you’re looking to save more time after work, you could meal prep just dinners (hello, crock pot!). But if you’re looking for a full nutrition boost, it may be helpful to plan the meals you miss the most often (ahem, breakfast).
- Find Recipes and Make Your List: Once you’ve decided how many meals a day you want to prep, it’s time to grab some recipes! This won’t be quite as difficult if you’re not looking at it from a health perspective – there are tons of great recipes out there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that don’t solely focus on health! But if you’re looking for meals that complement your specific diet, it could take some time. When you’re looking for recipes, make sure you pay attention to how long each recipe will last in the fridge/freezer/pantry. If you’re looking to prep for a full week like me, you’ll need some sturdy recipes that will last the 5-7 days you’re looking to have meals on hand for. That being said, I definitely recommend crock pot freezer meals for dinner meal prep – this saves a ton of time at night after work, and it’s no-hassle cooking with minimal clean up! For breakfast, I still use my crock pot a lot, but I tend to stick to the basics: egg cups with meat, cheese, and spinach with toppings and smoothie bowls. Grab your recipes, and make a grocery list of what ingredients you’ll need. I shop at a few different places, so I split my list up into stores as well as ingredients.
- Grocery Shopping and Actual Prep: As for the shopping portion, to make it easy for bulk prepping, I shop at Costco for things like meat, veggies, and fruits that I know I’ll be eating daily and will need a lot of. Anything else I need on the side, I usually go to Walmart for – I usually don’t need much else besides some dried goods that I don’t want 20 pounds of 🙂 The first time I did meal prep, I prepped breakfast, lunch, and snacks for a week, and dinners for 6 weeks – and it took an entire day between grocery shopping and actual prep! Now that I’ve been doing it for a few months, the process is definitely streamlined and I have it down to a few hours of roasting, cooking, and bagging. The first time you prep, make sure you’ve blocked out a whole day for it, just in case!
- Enjoy! Now that you’ve prepped the meals you want, kick your feet up and relax knowing you don’t have to lift a finger the rest of the week and you’ve got a solid nutrition plan down!
Do you meal prep? What kind of recipes do you like to have on hand during the week?