Learning how to meal prep was one of the best things I’ve done for myself.
When you have meals and snacks prepped and ready to go, you save time, money AND it helps you to make better choices when it comes to food. When I know I’ll be out of the house for hours on end grabbing something I’ve made prevents me from eating things I’ll later regret.
If you’re new to meal planning and want to learn the basics, this ultimate meal prep guide for beginners is for you!
What is Meal Prepping?
Meal prep is simply any preparation of your food that you can do ahead of time. It can be three days of lunches, pre-cutting your fruits and vegetables or even a full week’s worth of meals. Anything that will save you some time.
Meal Prep Guide for Beginners
1. Start small
If you’re new to meal prepping, you might find yourself a bit overwhelmed. That’s why it’s best to start small. Start by choosing ONE meal a week to prep. If your mornings are chaotic, having a smoothie pack already prepped to hit the blender will be a lifesaver. If you work late and get home too exhausted to cook, make dinner your meal prep priority. Shoot for the times of days you are busiest and begin there. Eventually you’ll be able to plan all of your meals for the week.
2. Plan it all out and create a calendar
Think about this: what does your upcoming week look like? Prep for what you’ll need for that week (or how many days you decide. It could be just 2 days, 3 days, etc)
Choose the one day a week you will do your shopping and prepping. Most people choose Sundays for their meal prep. Find the day that works for you.
To create a calendar, simply look at your schedule for the week and think about what meals would fit best. Write down the days of the week and the meal you’ll make for each day. Create your shopping list of any ingredients you will need. Keep certain items stocked in your fridge and pantry: frozen fruits, oatmeal, your grains of choice, etc.
3. Prep + Cook
Now it’s time for the actual prepping and cooking. Depending on the calendar you’ve laid out, these tasks may vary week to week.
These tasks may include:
– Peeling, washing, slicing all fruits and vegetables
– Steaming, sautéing, etc your greens
– Bulk cooking and cooling your grains
– Roasting, grilling, frying, etc your protein
– Putting fresh fruit & veggies in individual bags to freeze overnight for a breakfast smoothie in the AM
– Sectioning off snacks for work into ziplock bags FOR THE WEEK
Those are just a few very basic meal prep guidelines to get you started. Everyone’s lives and schedules are very different, so start slow and go from there.
I also wanted to share with you a few tools that are super helpful when it comes to having a successful meal prep! They will make the entire process a whole lot easier.
Meal Prep Containers
Whether you prefer plastic or glass containers, this is the most important part of your meal prep process. I wrote a post on the best meal prep containers, but linked above are my top 2 picks of each kind.
Another fantastic option is the Jaxx Fitpak lunch bag. It’s an insulated meal prep bag that stores everything beautifully, making it easy to stay on track while you’re out and about. It comes with 6 meal prep containers (you can also use your own containers), a large ice pack and a shaker bottle.
It’s not a huge bag, which makes it convenient to fit in the fridge at work. It’s a great price and great quality if you prefer to buy all of your supplies as a set.
Personally, I love using silicone baking mats! They make clean up a breeze, are dishwasher safe and are very eco-friendly. I love using them for roasting vegetables and baking salmon.
I’ve mentioned making smoothie packs a few times in this post, but it’s one thing I never forget to do! If you want to make the process even easier, consider using these sandwich bag holders to hold the bags open for you while you load them up!
When it comes to meal prep, portion size is incredibly important. Using a food scale helps to you to recognize correct serving sizes, thus helping you to reach your health and fitness goals.
Do you have any other meal prep tips for beginners?