Want to meal plan without spending hours in the kitchen?

How to Meal Prep Like a Pro and Save Time & Money in the Kitchen

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One of the best ways to successfully build healthy eating habits is to learn how to meal prep. In addition to helping you build healthy eating habits, it can save you time and money in the kitchen with a little planning ahead.

I’ve got five tips to help you get started and show you how to meal prep like a pro.

The thought of meal prepping used to make me cringe. Who would want to eat the same thing every day? And how much time do you really need to spend in the kitchen to make it worthwhile?

Years ago, on Sundays, I used to make batch meals that would usually consist of one-pot wonders so that there would always be a “home-cooked meal” ready to each throughout the week.

But when I think back to this time, it makes me cringe. On the menu was often chicken and dumplings (where’s the veggies?!), a spaghetti bake and a lot of other foods that were lacking in all of the nutritious ingredients that help fuel you throughout the day.

5 Tips for Meal Prepping Like a Pro | FitLiving Eats

My point is, this first attempt at what some might call “meal prepping” was an epic fail in the nutrition department and I began to loathe the thought of spending all day on Sunday in the kitchen making foods for the week.

From comfort food prepper to meal prep pro

Several years later, and I’ve found a new way of meal prepping. It’s not an all or nothing approach, and I find my days packed with nutritious, energizing foods that have already been made ahead of time.

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Here are my top five tips for meal prepping like a pro!

Tip #1: Start small.

One of the biggest mistakes I made when beginning to meal prep was thinking I could transform from a newbie to a maven overnight. I quickly became overwhelmed and a lot of food went to waste because my plan wasn’t well thought through and well, we got tired of eating the same thing all the time.

Start small and tackle just a few things at a time, say, overnight oats and granola bars to have on hand for the week ahead.

Tip #2: Have a plan.

This is the biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone starting out with meal prepping, or just looking to eat healthier throughout the week. Whether you’re prepping the foods or not, I encourage you to look at the week ahead and plan out what you are going to eat throughout the week. Then, make a list and go grocery shopping. One and done.

If you’re prepping, having a plan doesn’t mean you have to tackle the whole week, every meal, in one day. I like to look at my week and identify those meals I know I’m going to have a hard time making a nutritious choice.

Meal Prep like a pro with these 5 tips to get you started, plus get your own Meal Prep for Success E-Book! | fitlivingeats.com

For example, I work late on Monday and Thursday evenings, so I’ll prepare a soup or batch of enchiladas at the beginning of the week for these nights. I also know that if I’ve already prepped a batch of overnight oats or veggie egg muffins, I’m much more likely to eat a breakfast that will be satisfying and fuel me through the morning!

Tip #3: Variety is the key to long term success.

Even though I tend to be a creature of habit, I like to switch up the flavor profiles of my food from time to time so I don’t get bored. So, I don’t know about you, but the thought of five prepared meals of the exact same thing makes me cringe a little bit.

It doesn’t have to be boring. Let’s say you make a big batch of roasted veggies at the beginning of the week. Those veggies could be a side to your favorite chicken dish, a star ingredient in a power bowl, and added to a wrap with hummus and leafy greens! Make it once, use it twice (or three times), my friends.

Tip #4: Pre-portion.

Making a dinner ahead of time? Go ahead and pre-portion it in individual containers so that it’s easy to grab and reheat. Or, if you are a snack lover like me, pre-portion individual servings of nuts in Ziploc bags to grab when the hunger strike hits. Smoothie packs are also great to have on hand for a quick breakfast or snack!

Meal Prep like a pro with these 5 tips to get you started, plus get your own Meal Prep for Success E-Book! | fitlivingeats.com

Tip #5: Visualize it.

Print or write out your meal plan to have on hand to refer back to. I often forget this step and then can’t remember what I bought those mushrooms for. If you have a family, having the week’s menu visible can encourage a heightened anticipation for dinner time and eliminate any surprises or complaining.

Your turn. Are you a meal prepping pro? Or have you thought you’d like to give it a try, but find it intimidating? Share with me in the comments below!

-Carly Paige

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44 Responses

  1. Meal prep has been a game changer for me. It’s saved us from eating out so much, too. I spend Saturday or Sunday morning gathering recipes for the up-coming week and go grocery shopping. It’s so nice to feel on top of it. I hang our meals for the week on the side of the refridgerator to keep them visible, too. It’s so awesome!!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Leslie! Isn’t it such a fantastic feeling? I admit, I don’t get to it every week but when I do, it’s a complete game changer!

  2. I love the idea of the pre-portioned bags for smoothies. What a great idea. I definitely want to try out some of your meal prep ideas…the enchiladas sound yummy

  3. I appreciated these tips because I’m working hard to be better at meal planning. By the time I get home from work, get dinner prepped and cooked and we sit down to eat, our entire night is gone!

  4. Thanks for sharing these tips. I have been doing fairly ok on meal prepping but I just realized that I often forget to include veggies in my meals. Definitely something I need to change!

  5. Awesome tips! This pairs so well with our post for today about meal prepping! So fun! Thanks for sharing all of your tips. I’ll definitely be checking out your post on overnight oats (aka my new obsession)!

  6. These are great idwas, and very similar to some I already incorporate. I’ve also found that you get better/more efficient the more you do it, so don’t be discouraged. What used to take me over 4 hours now barely takes up 2. Great post!

  7. I have failed everytime and it’s generally because I get sick of the same thing and go all in after a binge weekend. Starting small and using variety is clear advice that no matter how simple, people need to hear and see written. Thanks

  8. I was doing well meal prepping at the beginning of the year – it was one of my goals for 2016. But now that it’s summer, I find it much harder to spend my precious time on Sundays in the kitchen! But I am so happy when I do.

  9. I have realized for a while and love when I am able to – that COOKING AND EATING AT HOME ==== SOOOOOOO MUCH CHEAPER THAN EATING OUT AT RESTAURANTS!! Gah! Drive me insane when I know I have food at home I can eat, yet still go out to eat!

    1. Yes!!! I’m with you, Gigi! Although some nights I just can’t bring myself to cook when I have prepared something already :-/

  10. I’m not a fan of meal planning but I understand its purpose. Now that we are gluten free, I’m having to experiment and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Recipes in cookbooks can be hit or miss. Your tips are easy enough that anyone can meal plan and prep if they just put forth the time and effort.

  11. I can totally relate to this! When I first tried meal prepping, I thought I had to go all out and make every meal and every snack for the week. It took up so much of my precious weekend time, and I didn’t enjoy it! Plus, I got bored of eating the same meals. Now when I meal prep, I look at my calendar and plan a little wiggle room so things are more varied. Thanks for the awesome tips!

Hi! I’m Carly Paige, a culinary nutrition expert and chef who believes that healthy doesn’t have to be frustrating, boring or restrictive. I’m here to show you how through my Simply Swapped Method so that you can feel more energized and confident from within. You’ll find tips for focusing on nutrition in the kitchen, along with plant-powered, gluten-free recipes that proves healthy can be delicious.

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