Meal Prepping! One of my favorite topics lately. Prior to meal prepping the morning was always a scramble to get lunches together, breakfast was often skipped and buying something on the way to work was a pretty regular occurrence. Dinner was the same thing, we’d sometimes have an idea of what we wanted to have, but if things weren’t ready to go we were spending a couple hours in the evenings making it! It took up valuable time we could have been spending as a family; playing a game, reading books or doing a craft. And if we didn’t feel like spending time on dinner the drive thru was a very tempting and easy option. Which isn’t great on the wallet or the belt!!! Taking the time to do some planning and work just once a week has made the weekdays much less hectic, we’ve saved money (you know we are all about that), freed up the time we have together as a family to do more enjoyable activities and helped keep us stay on track with our clean eating plan!
On Facebook I’ve been doing a weekly “Meal Prep Live” on Sundays to share what I’ve prepped for the week, recipes & any tips I’ve picked up. (If you haven’t seen them you can check out a couple on YouTube). It’s about time I write out a post for people to refer to if you are wanting to give meal prepping a try! So today I’m going to share what I do every week and what’s worked well for me. Comment with questions or tips & tricks of your own!
Before you get started, just know this takes time to perfect. I’ve been doing it for 8 months and I’m not there yet, but it’s getting easier. Also, it could take you an entire day to do this, but just know it will ultimately save time during your busy week!! It is definitely worth it!! The below steps could be broken out over a couple days. I try to plan & shop on Saturdays and then prep & portion everything on Sunday.
Step 1) Write out your Plan:
I always start by sitting down and writing out exactly what I am going to have for each meal in the week to come. Usually I start with dinner. I like to start with dinner because if I’m making a recipe I know will give us leftovers I can plan that for the next day’s lunch. I think about what things we already have (freezer meals, any leftover still good from the previous week, etc.), I’ll look on Pinterest for recipes, then I use a calendar to write down the dinner for each day. This gets posted on the fridge so Colin knows the plan too!
Then I move on to lunch, breakfast & snacks. I generally stick to the same things for breakfast and snacks everyday. For lunches I’ll alternate days, ie. MON/WED/FRI one thing and TUES/THU something else. I’ve found that having the same things multiple times a week helps make the planning and prepping process a lot easier.
If you are planning for a family (like I am), I plan out snack options and breakfasts for the fam and we’ll all eat the same dinner. My kids get breakfast & lunch provided at daycare, which is amazing, so I just plan a couple snacks for them. Colin likes to take leftovers or sandwiches to work for lunch, so I plan that out for him, but don’t do any prep for those. I write these as side notes on my meal planning sheet so I don’t forget to buy them!
Step 2) Write out a Grocery list/Shop:
After you’ve got your plan written out you’ll want to list out everything you need from the store! First I take inventory of everything I already have and then refer to my plan as I make my list.
Next go shopping! A couple of tips, because this is where things can get crazy. Don’t go to the store hungry. EVER. This may cause you to buy things off plan and waste money!! Stick to your list! If you don’t have a plan for something don’t buy it. Also, only buy the amount that you need of something. If you only need 1 onion for a recipe don’t buy three. If you have a recipe that calls for a spice that you don’t use often, go to the bulk section and only get the 2 teaspoons that the recipe calls for…sometimes it won’t even register on the store’s scale and they’ll charge you a penny or two!
Step 3) Plan your Prep:
The goal is to make everything usable and EASY to grab throughout the week. So I take a little time to think about how I can prep pretty much everything I buy to make it easier throughout the week. I write this down so that I don’t waste time while I’m prepping. Here’s what I generally do:
- Make seasoning mixes
- Grill chicken
- Cook quinoa or rice
- Wash & chop veggies
- Cook a soup or meat in crockpot (to be divided throughout the week)
- Roast veggies
- Throw together salad toppings
- Portion out yogurt
- Portion out shake baggies (throw spinach, bananas, etc. into serving sized baggies)
- Make salad dressings
Step 4) Prepare food:
After I have my plan written down I get into action and do it!
Step 5) Portion:
This step may have happened while prepping, but in case not everything is prepped I take one extra step to make sure I have it all ready to go. So I’ll portion out my yogurts for breakfast, cut up my apple and portion out a teaspoon of pb for my afternoon snack and I’ll throw together my grilled chicken, quinoa and veggies for my lunches (or whatever it is I’m having for lunch that week). I’ve found an assembly line method is the easiest for this step. For example, lay out all your yogurt containers and go down the line portioning the yogurt. Same goes with all your veggies and chicken for lunch, etc. I’ve gotten questions about what food storage containers I like and where I purchased them. I wouldn’t say I’ve found my favorite yet, but I use these from Ikea (I bought a couple packs and only use a couple of the sizes) and I purchased these meal prep containers from Ebay.
Ok, that was a LOT of info. This is going to take some time figuring out what works best for you, so be patient. Try prepping at least something every week and go from there!
Ok, that was a lot! Let me know if you questions, and suggestions are always welcome!!