Do you want to know a BIG secret to cleaning up your diet, eating healthier, and feeling your best from the inside out? It’s meal prep made easy! It might sound a little daunting but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, meal prepping can actually save you precious time in the end!
Let’s face it, we’re all busy these days and often feel pulled in a million different directions. We need simple meals that give us energy, are quick to put together, and that nourish our bodies. But creating healthy meals from scratch three times a day, every day can be more than a little overwhelming. By planning and prepping meals in advance, you get all the benefits of good foods without sacrificing time, like more energy, better sleep, improved digestion, better brain function, glowing skin, and a healthier weight. Whatever your goals, meal prepping can help you feel your best inside and out.
Eating better foods can be made easier by following a simple formula of vegetables, protein, and spices that will always turn into a delicious meal. You can even meal prep for smoothies, which cuts down on time (and ups the nutrition!) even further.
Meal prepping doesn’t have to be expensive, either. You can purchase nutritious foods without spending more than you can afford! For example, have you considered purchasing organic but are concerned about how it might affect your budget? Organic foods are continuing to grow in popularity and demand, making them more readily available and driving more affordable pricing. Shopping your local farms and farmers markets can save you substantially on your produce and meat purchases! Buying frozen fruits and vegetables can be a great money saving option as well. Frozen foods usually have a longer shelf life and this makes them cheaper than their fresh counterparts. Another tip: Not everything has to be organic! Fruits like bananas and oranges, which have a thicker peel that is thrown away, can safely be bought non-organic if it’s too expensive to buy otherwise.
By combining ideas to save money and time, you’ll be surprised to see how easy it is to eat healthy when you meal prep! I’ve chosen fifteen of my best tips to make meal prepping for the week an easy habit to get into.
15 Tips for Meal Prepping Made Easy
1) Start simple so you’re not overwhelmed. Less is more in most cases in life and definitely with meal prepping. Start by planning for just a meal or two each week. Choose a lunch or a dinner you really love, and make it in batches at the beginning of the week. Another easy way to begin is with just one ingredient. Roast a whole chicken on Sunday, and then use it in your lunches, dinners, or salads throughout the week! Or cook it in a crockpot and use the broth to make an easy soup for lunches the next week.
2) Make a weekly meal plan. Not sure where to start? Check out Clean Eating Magazine’s assortment of meal plans for ready-made ideas. They are sorted by health benefits and by theme so it’s simple to look through the meals that align with your goals.
3) Schedule a meal planning day. Saturdays and Sundays are easy days to prepare things in batches for the week ahead. By setting aside time, you’ll know to keep a few hours free that will ultimately give you more time on weekday evenings.
4) Meal prep quick breakfast meals like overnight oats, healthy muffins, or egg cups so you don’t feel overwhelmed or rushed in the morning. This is crucial for those of us who are night owls and have a harder time in the mornings! You can also pre-freeze a few different smoothie recipes in ziplock bags that you can just grab and throw in a blender. (See my 10 Epic Smoothie Bowl Recipes for ideas.) By planning for breakfast, it will prevent you from eating something unhealthy or skipping it altogether.
5) Stock up on healthy glass or stainless steel containers for meal prepping so you can avoid carcinogens like BPA in plastics. Plus, it makes it easier to portion out your meals! Here are a few of my favorite options:
Mcirco Glass Meal Prep Containers
These have separate compartments within each container, which makes it easy to separate foods without needing to carry anything extra. For example, put chicken on one side, and your veggies on the other!
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Rubbermaid Brilliance Storage Set
These are high quality glass containers that won’t stain or leak! They are great for storing items in the fridge or freezer, and they can go right into the oven as well.
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If you’re on the go often and don’t want to risk breaking glass, these two stainless steel containers are good options, too:
Safe Snackers Reusable Stainless Steel Container
These are available in a few colors and multiple sizes. The lid is attached to the container, so no more losing tops!
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LunchBots Stainless Steel Lunch Containers
This stainless steel option has compartments within the containers to keep food separate. It’s available in multiple colors and oh-so-fun to eat from!
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6) Shop your pantry first. There’s no need to make a trip to the store if you don’t have to. What do you have on hand that you can easily prepare a few healthy meals with? Canned or frozen vegetables and rice is an easy start to a yummy meal!
7) Buy in bulk whenever possible. Big box wholesalers often allow you to buy a selection of organic products in bulk, including granola, cereals, peanut butter, beans, rice, nuts, and more. By buying items in bulk, you’ll save money!
8) Keep staples on hand, like a variety of spices makes it easy to make a meal delicious. I also love coconut aminos, which is low sodium and low glycemic, gluten free, Whole 30 Approved and is excellent on just about everything!
9) Wash and prep your fruit and veggies right away so you don’t find yourself chopping them up multiple times throughout the week. By doing this beforehand, you’ll save precious minutes—and you’ll have no excuses when it comes time to make dinner!
10) Use your slow or pressure cooker. It’s easy to set it and forget it, and you don’t have to dirty a lot of dishes, either. (I often joke with my health coaching clients that I’d probably starve to death without mine. They get a lot of use!) Make a big batch in your slow or pressure cooker on Sundays to meal prep for the whole week.
11) Learn to love leftovers. They’re easy to re-purpose! That whole chicken you threw in the crockpot the night before is easy to shred to make into a delicious salad for lunch. You can even saute a few leftover vegetables to give them new life, or add more spices to improve their flavor.
12) Batch cook and freeze meals. I often buy a variety of organic vegetables in bulk, wash and cut them as soon as I get home, and then freeze them in ziplock bags. This makes them easy to quickly throw in the oven to roast, or into a pan with a healthy oil to saute.
13) Track your favorite meals. Experiment with new, easy-to-make recipes and keep track of your favorites. Then, rotate those in once or twice a month! It can be fun to create your own “cookbook” of all your favorite recipes to choose from when you’re stuck for ideas.
14) Enlist others to help cook. Or have a few friends over one night to socialize, catch up, and to meal prep together. Teach each other new recipes so you’ll all go home with something new to try!
15) Have fun with it! Make a healthy drink to enjoy while you cook and put on your favorite playlist with you meal prep—music can be an incredibly powerful mood booster!
Do you have any tips I missed? I would love to hear from you!
You’ll also love “5 Ways to Curb Cravings (and the Extra Pounds!)”
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As an Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Duke Integrative Medicine trained health and wellness coach, I’m passionate about helping women create sustainable long-term changes with their health so they can feel their best inside and out. Together we’ll optimize your health utilizing a whole-body approach, working on things like eating more clean whole foods, reducing your inflammation, and lowering your stress so you can thrive and achieve your full potential.
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