Meal prepping is an excellent way to develop a healthy lifestyle and ensure you eat wholesome meals as you go through the week. There are many ways to accomplish successful meal prep, and you can use various techniques to craft delicious dishes that keep you full.
Whether you want to control weight loss, eat healthier foods or need to save time on cooking, you can meal prep to reach your goals and establish a balanced routine. Discover tons of helpful meal-prepping tips from FoodandFitnessPro.
Benefits of Meal Prepping
Learning how to start meal prepping begins with knowing what you want to achieve and how this process can get you there. Some people meal prep because they want to lose weight, while others are short on time and want to spend fewer hours in the kitchen throughout the week. Thankfully, planning your meals can help you reach these goals. Meal prepping has many benefits, including:
- Saving money by refraining from eating out
- Eating healthier by filling your fridge with wholesome meals
- Saving time during the busy workweek
- Reducing stress by needing to make fewer last-minute decisions
- Creating a balanced lifestyle by ensuring you eat at the correct times
- Finding new recipes you and your family love
- Aiding weight control by consuming appropriate portions
- Helping you avoid distracted eating
How to Meal Prep for the Week
There is no wrong way to meal prep, and you can find various ways to do it to fit your lifestyle. Generally, meal prep involves planning at least one meal for each weekday a few days in advance. One of the most effective methods is to make a large batch of food on Saturday or Sunday to eat for the following week. Check out these meal planning tips to start crafting delicious dishes.
1. Create a Schedule
One of the first steps is to make a schedule that works with your lifestyle and needs. You should start by picking one meal you would like to prepare and expect to cook enough food to eat every day.
For example, you may want a healthy breakfast before going to work but don’t have time to cook in the morning. You can make multiple servings of your favorite breakfast food to warm up or eat right out of the container.
You will also need to ensure you have enough time to prepare your meals. Though many opt to do all their cooking during the weekend, a weeknight may be more convenient for those who work or have other obligations over the weekend. Find the day that best fits within your schedule and plan to meal prep every week on that day.
2. Find the Right Containers
Strategic container use can propel you through the meal-prepping process. There is no perfect container — you can choose whatever works for you. The best containers readily allow you to see what’s inside, don’t alter the taste of your food and do not emit chemicals when you put them in the microwave.
Some people prefer multiple containers of different sizes, while others like to buy five or six of the same dish with portion holders inside. If you’re planning lunches away from home, be sure the containers you choose fit into your lunchbox.
The containers you choose can also spark creative meal-prepping ideas. For example, one large dish may not fit your favorite meats, sides and veggies without overlapping. However, if you want to incorporate multiple food groups, a sectioned container can encourage you to fill your lunchbox or dinner plate with a wide variety.
3. Choose Your Recipes
The best part of meal prepping is finding exciting recipes you can enjoy. You’ll be eating the same meals multiple times throughout the week, so you must stock up on foods you love and ingredients that give you a flavorful bite every time.
Depending on your goals, you may want to fill your plate with more of one ingredient than another. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, you may opt for a low-carb meal of protein and vegetables, while those trying to eat more balanced meals may want to prep a grain, protein and vegetables.
Some healthy meal prep ideas include:
- Overnight Breakfast Oats
- Yogurt-and-Fruit Parfait
- Chia Seed Pudding
- Chickpea Curry
- Three Bean Salad
- Turkey Tacos
- Chicken Sausage with Peppers & Onions
- Roasted Veggies and Chicken
- Spaghetti Squash and Shrimp
4. Crafting Your Shopping List
Your shopping list will be your best friend when planning your meals. You’ll want to find whole, unprocessed foods and lots of flavors to keep each meal interesting. Plan to buy everything you need in one weekly trip.
For healthy grocery shopping, it’s best to stick to the supermarket’s outer perimeter. There, you’ll find fresh produce, meats and dairy, while steering clear of canned food and salty, sugary snacks.
While you’re shopping, use the following tips.
- Stock up on spices: You’ll want to reduce the number of dressings and sauces you use if you want to develop a healthy lifestyle. Spices can keep your food exciting and flavorful. Various herbs can have many health benefits, so make sure you stock up.
- Buy pantry items: Keeping and organizing an inventory of your pantry can help reduce food waste and ensure you always know what you have. Brown rice, whole-grain pasta, oatmeal, veggie broth and diced tomatoes are only a few versatile essentials you can grab for quick cooking.
- Avoid hungry shopping: Try to shop after you’ve had a filling meal. When you head to the store on an empty stomach, you’re more likely to reach for the foods that satisfy fleeting cravings instead of the nutritious ingredients that will form healthy meals.
5. Portion Your Meals
One of the best benefits of meal prepping is having portioned meals. When you buy portioned containers, you can easily ensure you have the right amount of each food every time. While cooking, make enough to account for at least five portions. When it’s time to put everything in the fridge, each container should have the same amount of every dish. Consistency is crucial when food prepping.
6. Record Your Favorite Meals
As you experiment with new recipes, you’re bound to find some you love and some you can go without trying again. When you measure ingredients and enjoy new flavors, note the ones you’re particularly fond of. As the weeks pass, you can create an entire cookbook filled with your all-time favorite foods. When you get stuck in a rut and don’t know what to make, you can review your recipes and choose a go-to that satisfies your cravings while meeting your dietary needs.
7. Make It Enjoyable
It’s easier to find motivation when you’re enjoying your activities. Your food prepping experience should be fun from start to finish, including grocery shopping, cooking and eating your delicious dish. You can be excited about your meal prep and stock your fridge with foods you’re eager to eat every time you reach for them. By using ingredients you love and finding healthy alternatives to your go-to recipes, you can create a unique experience every time you meal prep.
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