If there’s one thing that I try to always incorporate into my week, it’s meal prep. Even the slightest bit can be beneficial in the long run! What I love about meal prep is that you can find the routine and make a plan that works best for you and your lifestyle. Meal prep looks different to everyone!! I think a lot of times it’s seen as being something that takes a lot of time or is super complicated. It definitely doesn’t need to be! I put together 10 Tips to Simplify Meal Prep that I like to keep in mind when meal prepping for the week and ones that I think would be helpful for you!
Let me know in the comments if there are any other tips you have for meal prepping or if these are helpful to you!
Decide what you want “meal prep” to look like for you
Do you want this to be a prep of all your meals for the week? Or do you want to do a couple items that will make your meals easier to throw together during the week? Personally, I like to prepare a couple items that will make meals easier during the week! For example, preparing shredded buffalo chicken and using it to make Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Zucchini Boats and Buffalo Chicken Naan Flatbread. Once you have that piece already done, it makes throwing together meals even easier. Find what works best for you and your schedule and stick to it!
Survey what you already have at home
Before you start making a grocery list or deciding what you’re going to make each week, look at what you already have in the fridge, freezer and pantry! That way, you can utilize items at home, reduce waste and cut back on your grocery bill. A lot of times, we have veggies leftover that we could easily roast for bananas that can be placed in the freezer for smoothies for the week. Once you have a good idea of what you already have, you can start building your meal plan from there.
Schedule the time for meal prep
Just like you would schedule an appointment into your calendar, do the same for meal prep. I like to take some time either on Sunday or Monday to do a little prep. Find whatever time works best for you! Remember, it’s not about this being a super time consuming activity but instead only help you for the week ahead. Once you make it a habit to prepare each week, you will start to notice how beneficial it is every week.
Plan it out!
Making your plan for the week is fun! This is your time to dig through recipes you’ve saved on Instagram or Pinterest boards for whatever you may be craving for the week. I like to plan out so I have two different breakfast items, usually one-two different lunches that I can switch up and then dinner items that makes for leftovers. Again, you want to make this work best for you.
How many people are you feeding? Do you not like leftovers? Do you care to eat similar items throughout the week? Making a plan can sometimes feel stressful if you don’t know where to start. Don’t overcomplicate your meals. When you start to make a plan, think about ways you can use items for different recipes you’re making that week. Then you’ll be less likely to get to the end of the week and have a bunch leftover that you don’t know what to do with!
If you’re trying to decide what you want for lunch, check out this blog post with a roundup of 10+ easy items to make. Or if you want to make a big batch of shredded crockpot chicken, check out this post with everything you could make with it.
Create a thorough grocery list
Don’t forget the list! While I’m planning out my meals, I start to make a list of what I need. This is after you’ve surveyed what you already have at home too! So you know what items you’re missing and need to grab this week. There are many templates for making a grocery list or you can make your own in your notepad. A few that I’ve seen online are these Weekly Meal Plans or this one. I will make my list in my notepad and seperate it by fruit/veggies, proteins, dairy, etc. That way when I take it with me to the store it’s easier to shop with 🙂
Use the Balanced Meal Prep Formula
This is the meal prep formula that I like to use! I’ve found that preparing “components” of your meals in prep for the week is the most beneficial in the long run. That way you have a variety of ways to use it too! You can create a plan based off the components that you prep and work off those for the week. I break this up into:
- Pick 2-3 protein sources
- Choose 3-4 veggie sources
- Make 1 rice, grain, pasta, etc.
- Choose 1-2 snacks
- Make a dressing or sauce
Once you do this prep based off your meal plan for the week, you can switch it up based off however you like! A few good meals that are great to incorporate into a plan like this are Buddha Bowls with Peanut Sauce, Southwestern Chicken Salad, and Healthy Snack Bites
Don’t overcomplicate it–simple is key
It’s easy to let meal prep overwhelm you! Don’t let it. All this is about is doing a little to make the weeks a little less chaotic for you. Meals don’t need to involve a bunch of ingredients or a ton of time to prepare either! Using the template that I mentioned above will help in creating simplicity to your meal plan. Want some ideas on super simple meals? Try these:
- Healthy Chicken Salad
- Breakfast Egg Bake
- Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Spinach Quesadilla
- Brussels, Sweet Potato and Chicken Sausage Sheetpan Meal
- Sweet Potato Ground Turkey Skillet Meal
- One Pot Taco Pasta
Utilize the freezer!
The freezer can be a great tool in meal prep during the week. Not only for utilizing what you have to create your meals but also to store extra items so you can use the following week! I love to put bread, soups, snack bites, etc in the freezer to keep it around longer. You can also use it to prep smoothie containers if you enjoy smoothies in the morning. This is something that I will do as part of my prep at the beginning of the week. Using these bags, place your frozen fruit, greens and protein powder in the bag and place it in the freezer for the week. That way you can easily grab it out when you want to make a smoothie!
Find ways to prep throughout the week
Maybe you don’t like having a bunch of food ready for the whole week and want to add some prep into your week halfway through. Great! Wednesday is a great day to do a refresh prep. Maybe put some more veggies into roast or make a little extra of dinner to have for lunch leftovers. If you’re doing any cooking during the week, think about how you can use those items to help for the next time you use it that week! Maybe it’s chopping up all the veggies and storing the remaining in the fridge to easily throw into a stir fry the next day.
Make sure you have the right kitchen items
Prepping items is a little easier when you have what you need in the kitchen! Some of my favorites are good glass containers for storing your food. I like these. Other kitchen items that I use a lot when I prep food for the week are non-stick pans, food processor and Stasher bags. All not needed to be able to prep items for the week, but a few of my most frequently used items!
until next time...