Meal prepping is a great way to set yourself up for healthy eating throughout your busy week. It may seem intimidating to start, but meal prepping doesn’t have to mean spending hours on end in the kitchen. It can help save you time, money, stress, and can help improve the quality of your diet.
Some common methods of meal prepping are batch cooking, prepping full meals, and prepping ingredients. It may take some experimenting with different methods to see what works best for you, but when you find what works, you will be thankful for all the time it saves you!
“Batch cooking” involves preparing large amounts of a specific recipe (or multiple recipes) and then portioning and storing for the weeks ahead. This is a good method for recipes that are easy to make lots of, such as soups, rice, or crockpot meals.
Having different meals prepared in the freezer can also help with variety if you are someone who gets sick of eating the same thing every day throughout the week.
Ideas of meals/foods to batch cook:
- Casseroles/Hot dishes
- Breakfast burritos
- Crockpot shredded chicken
- Egg bites
- Energy bites
- Peanut butter Greek yogurt dip
- Oatmeal bake
Prepping individual meals is beneficial for those looking for convenience with grab-and-go foods. Oftentimes individuals will prep one meal to have for lunches for the whole week, so the downside is that it can get repetitive. Pro tip: find a group of friends that will make different meals and swap for some variety in the week!
Ideas for individual meals:
- Overnight oats
- Sheet pan meals (ex. Chicken + sweet potatoes + broccoli)
- Deli meat sandwiches with fruit/veggie side
- Crockpot chicken + steamer bag rice + roasted or steamer bag veggie
- Burrito bowls
- Stir fry
- Homemade lunchable (ex. Deli meat + cheese + crackers + carrots)
Stock Your Kitchen
Keep things on hand for quick meals or snacks for times you haven’t meal prepped.
- Tuna packets/cans
- Frozen pre-cooked chicken
- Low sodium canned veggies
- Tortillas for tacos/wraps/quesadillas
- Whole grain bread for sandwiches
- Whole wheat or chickpea pasta and pasta sauces
- 90 second microwave rice bags
- Oatmeal packets
- Chicken sausage
- Deli meat and cheese for sandwiches/wraps
- Frozen shrimp + frozen stir fry veggies + packets of rice
- Steamer bag veggies and protein blends
- Trail mix
- Hard boiled eggs
- Greek yogurt + berries/granola
- Protein/granola bars
- Banana or apple + PB
- String cheese
Another way to meal prep is by prepping ingredients instead of full meals. For example, you could make two sources of protein, two different vegetables, and two different sources of carbs (ex. rice and potatoes). When you go to build your meals throughout the week, there are countless combinations you could choose. Preparing and portioning ingredients for snacks also can be helpful in making it easy to choose the healthy option.
Ingredient prep ideas:
- Cutting up vegetables
- Roasting vegetables
- Washing/cutting up fruit
- Smoothie bags (portion out ingredients and place in large bag)
- Hard boiled eggs
- Protein sources (chicken, fish, ground turkey, etc.)
- Roasted potatoes/sweet potatoes
- Portion out trail mix, granola, yogurt, or cottage cheese
- Energy bites
Tips and Tricks
Try out some of these tips to help make the meal prepping process easier! Remember to start small to avoid overwhelming yourself when starting meal prepping for the first time. You can also help make it more fun by turning on your favorite tv show, a podcast, or some music!
- Use your kitchen gadgets – Instant Pot, air fryer, and crockpot can all help speed up the process
- Make extra food at dinner and have leftovers for lunch the next day
- Sheet pan meals are a great way to make cleaning up easy
- When in doubt… make breakfast foods for dinner!