Meal prep: a simple concept, really. Meal prep is all about planning several days’ worth of meals, making sure you have all the ingredients and doing as much pre-cooking, chopping, portioning and storing as possible ahead of time so that it’s simple to throw together meals in no time.
Though it may sound like you need the organizational skills of Martha Stewart to make this work, it really isn’t hard once you get the hang of it. And once you get into a rhythm that works best for you and your family, meal prepping can save you a lot of time—especially on busy weeknights.
Step up your prep
- make patties/meatballs then freeze
- cut up fruits and veggies
- make rice, quinoa, etc., in bulk
- cook proteins like chicken w/ basic seasonings
- plan and list
- single portions and big batches
- bake protein and roast veggies
- quinoa for sides and breakfast
- one-pan meals
Try these meal-prep basics to simplify your life
Ready to try meal prep? Follow these pro tips:
- If you’re new to meal prep, don’t be overly ambitious. Making just a few meals ahead of time is plenty for a beginner.
- Make a plan and stick to it. Decide on what you’ll prepare, then check your fridge and pantry to see what ingredients you already have on hand. Make a list of what you need to buy, and don’t stray from your list.
- If prepping for several days’ worth of meals, chart it out so you can keep track of what you’re having and when you’re having it.
- Make sure you have enough room in your refrigerator and freezer for the items you’ll be preparing. You’ll also need plenty of storage containers and storage bags on hand.
- Plan on roasting proteins, such as chicken breasts, in the same pan as potatoes and vegetables.
- Hard-boil a dozen eggs to have on hand for quick breakfasts and on-the-go snacks.
- Portion out snacks in small plastic bags so they’re ready to grab. This could be trail mix, cut-up veggies, crackers, pretzels, or fruit.
- Prepare large portions of things like rice, quinoa, etc., to have on hand for several meals and/or freeze for later use.
- Prep all the ingredients for favorite slow-cooker dishes and place them all together in a large storage bag. Then just pour them into the slow cooker in the morning for a hot meal at dinnertime.
- Place cut-up fruits and other favorite smoothie ingredients in individual bags or containers and label them. Smoothies are ready in no time!
- Double or triple recipes; divide into smaller portions and freeze for later use.
- Buy things like ground beef or ground turkey when it’s on sale. Form into patties and/or meatballs and freeze for later use.