Healthy Meal Prep For the Week: Your 4-Step Guide…
Imagine this: a entire week of healthy, pre-made meals in your fridge at the start of the week, ready to grab-n-go every day! No more worrying about having dinner ready at night or caving when your office decides to order pizza for lunch.
Meal prepping is a wonderful way to keep yourself on track with a healthy lifestyle. When you have food already made and ready to go on the weekdays, you’re less likely to compulsively choose foods that don’t do your body justice. You’ll also avoid the snack trap when each meal is convenient and filling.
Here’s how meal prepping works:
You choose one day, usually on the weekend, to plan out your healthy meal prep for the week. Then you actually prep all of those meals, either on the same day or another weekend day.
Then, voila! Tasty, healthy meals right at your disposal all week.
Does it still sound daunting? Not sure where to start? Here’s an easy 4-Step Meal Prep Guide to get you started right away.
1. Determine Your Meal Schedule
Get out a pencil and paper. If you can, it’s helpful to actually draw out a calendar for the week, labelling the days. This will allow you to visualize how many meals you’ll need for the week and for each day.
Consider the following:
- How many meals/servings you’ll need each day. Are you meal prepping for your entire family, or just for you? Are you planning to prep three meals a day, or just lunch or dinner?
- How many meals/servings you’ll need for the whole week. This will be helpful for deciding on recipes and their quantities in the next step.
- If there are any days that will be different. Will you be eating out on certain days? Do you plan to have visitors who will be eating with you? Consider whether you’ll need more or less servings on specific days.
2. Choose Your Recipes
Now that you know how many meals you’ll need and who will be eating them, decide on what to make. If you need inspiration, search the internet for healthy recipes or pull out old cookbooks. Also, consider any dietary restrictions or food allergies if you’ll be meal prepping for others.
- The ingredients you’ll be using. Look for recipes that include similar foods. This will make it easier to use any leftover ingredients that might otherwise go to waste. Plus, it’s less you have to work with while prepping.
- Recipes with several servings. Since you already calculated your total servings for the week, you can make things easier on yourself by choosing recipes that will have leftovers. If you are meal prepping for two people, make recipes with four servings so they will stretch into two days.
- Money-saving bonus tip: Look for recipes that include in-season produce; they tend to be cheaper, so you can get more for your dollar!
3. Make Your Grocery List
Shopping time! Make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need. If you chose recipes with similar ingredients, this shouldn’t be too overwhelming.
Get out your pen and paper again (or your mobile device) and do the following:
- Shop your pantry. Look in your kitchen first! You may have forgotten you already have some of the items you need. Don’t end up buying that fifth bottle of mustard.
- List out ingredients by grocery store category. Put all fresh produce in one column, canned goods in another, refrigerated items in another, etc.
- Include correct amounts. For example, if you doubled a recipe, remember to double the ingredients too.
4. Start Prepping!
Ideally, you want to prep as much as possible of your meals for the week. If you don’t have that much time, or if some meals can only be partly prepped, just do as much as you can.
At the very least, it makes a huge different to cut, slice, and chop up all your veggies for the week.
Here are some other tips:
- Utilize your tools. Having several pots and pans will allow you to cook meals at the same time, decreasing your overall prep time. And once you’re done with one pot, just give it a quick rinse before using again. You don’t need to spend extra time thoroughly cleaning until you’re done prepping.
- Make it a habit. Anything that’s new has an adjustment period. Make meal prepping a weekly thing so it becomes a habit. Just STICK WITH IT. You’ll be surprised how easy it becomes!
Scheduling in healthy meal prep for the week is a fabulous way to eat well during your busy life. Give it a try this week, and if you need to, start small. The better prepared you are, the most results you’ll see towards your health or weight loss goals.