Meal prep. Seems daunting, doesn’t it?
But, like, it’s actually really simple.
Meal prep is literally two things executed in succession:
- Thinking about what you want to eat for a week straight
- Making what you want to eat for a week straight
It becomes overwhelming when Pinterest and Instagram get involved, doing what Pinterest and Instagram do best, OVER COMPLICATING, and misguiding the masses. Inundating feeds with 80+ item shopping lists, for 25 different 10-part recipes, all of which require 18 different appliances, heretofore keeping Postmates in business forever!
As with anything in the health and fitness world, there are 1,000 different ways to execute EVERYTHING. This isn’t the gospel, but it is a bunch of tips that can help you help yourself! This my ULTIMATE meal prep guide, and a system I swear by.
First Things First
The cornerstone of your success is your food storage system, trust me. Invest in some good Tupperware because you can’t eat what doesn’t keep. Okey?
Set the Stage
You don’t need Ina’s kitchen for prep but you DO need some essentials. Here’s the thing, cooking at home is the most effective way to minimize your food budget, and meet any goal that revolves around weight loss, health, and fitness. Almost every meal you cook at home will be less expensive than eating out, as well as calorically trackable. The best news is the more you do it, the better you are and the easier it gets.
That being said, you need a few items to get going, but just a few! GO TO BED BATH AND FAHKING BEYOND AND DON’T FORGET YOUR COUPON.
Here’s is the BARE BONES equipment you need for the most basic of meal prep:
- A good knife
- A cutting board
- Vegetable peeler
- A large pot
- A small pot or saucepan
- A skillet
- A baking sheet
- A 9×13″ baking dish
- A good knife
- Measuring cups
- Digital food scale
- Mixing spoon
If you are FANCY then you need the above, and the below:
- Food processor
- Muffin pan
If you are EXTRA then you need the above and the below:
- Cast iron skillet
- Electric mixer
- Air frier
Step One: Think About It
Before you even begin to plan your prep consider the following:
- Think about your favorite foods, and what you don’t mind eating multiple times throughout the week. If you HATE broccoli, you better believe you shouldn’t be prepping BROCCOLI. You’re in control!
- Think about cooking methods you feel comfortable with, and ones you’d be willing to try. If you are NOT a grill master, stick to the stove top, yah?
- Consider your macro or caloric needs. If your only concern is caloric maintenance or deficit, the sky is the limit! If you’re counting macros, then you have to be a bit more specific if your shopping and prep.
Step Two: Plan Your Meals and Keep it Simple
Meals do NOT have to be complicated or Insta-worthy. You’re going back to basics. Keep it simple to prioritize your sanity over your social media feed.
Get this, your meals aren’t recipes; they’re combinations of the following FOUR components.
- Protein (meat, poultry, beans, eggs, fish, etc)
- Carbohydrate (vegetables, rice, grains, etc.)
- Dietary fat (ghee, oils, nut butter, avocado, etc.)
- Garnish or flavor (spices, clean marinades, lemons, limes, etc.)
Not every meal has to include all of the above but should contain 2-3 of the four. Read THIS post for more information.
Layout each day according to the meals you eat. I eat four meals a day, and therefore structure my meals like this:
- M1: Oats + egg whites
- M2: Greek yogurt + PB2
- M3: Turkey burger + avocado + roasted sweet potato
- M4: Salmon (coated in salt/pepper/lemon juice) + green beans + Jasmin rice
Map out your entire week utilizing the combination system above, and again, go easy on yourself. Plan to eat a few of the same meals throughout the week. If you’re consuming foods you love the repetition with NOT feel redundant.
Create your list based on your weekly map. And organizing your list according to the layout of the store is CRUCIAL.
I like to write everything out even though my penmanship is V BAD.
Obviously, you won’t add to the list what you already have, or don’t need, and you should add any other necessarily pantry or household items.
Step Three: Grocery Shop
If you LIKE to grocery shop…I feel like you’re an extraordinary human. I honestly can’t stand it. It’s like every single person in a grocery store has no sense of urgency and nothing else to do for the rest of the day.
Use your resources and prioritize your spending accordingly. If you can’t stand grocery shopping but have a three-digit bar tab on a Friday night, get your shit together so you can Instacart or Prime Now! Seriously. It saves my time and my sanity.
SIDE NOTE: DM me for tips on flirting so guys buy your drinks for you. WINK.
Step Four: Cook and Prep and Dish
The below is MY personal system for dividing and conquering meal prep throughout the week based on my schedule (which is not a typical 9-5). I also like to cook and find joy in cooking for my husband, our family, and friends, so I always cook dinner in real time when I don’t work late.
- Sunday: Grocery shop, cook breakfast, lunches, and snacks for Monday-Thursday. Try to make use of any leftover food items that remain from the previous week.
- Monday: Eat prepped meals for breakfast, and lunch, Kate/Matt cooks dinner in real time or reheats leftovers.
- Tuesday: Eat prepped meals for breakfast, and lunch, Kate cooks dinner in real time.
- Wednesday: Eat prepped meals for breakfast, and lunch, Kate/Matt cook dinner in real time with leftovers for Thursday.
- Thursday: Eat prepped meals for breakfast, and lunch, Kate cooks dinner in real time or reheats leftovers.
- Friday: Prep breakfast and lunch based on what’s left over, dinner is usually a treat meal or a trip to the grocery store on the way home from work.
- Saturday: Finish whatever is left in the fridge, tap into some freezer reserves, or go out with friends for meals. Also, wine.
Even if you cook in bulk, take the extra 5 minutes to dish each meal into its own container. If you’re pressed for time in the morning, this makes a HUGE difference.
I started with the dish that is longest to COOK so that I can do the rest of my prep while the longest cook-time is under way. I’ll have veggies and proteins in the oven, rice and oats on the stove top, and something going in the crockpot. It takes maybe an hour to cut/chop/prep and then everything does its own thing. I do it while Luke naps or sleeps, or while Matt plays with him. Boom. Done.
Not only do I plan out my meals, and my list, I also plan out the above. I make sure I have the time set aside to do what I need to do. When you’ve got goals, you have GOT to be specific. That’s all there is to it, really.
Step Five: Evaluate
Keep track of what worked, what didn’t, and what can be improved upon. I have a Google doc full of recipes I’ve made and love that I add to and re-visit when I need inspiration for planning. No, I won’t share it with you because you have to do some ish for yourself, ya dig?!
Once you master your prep for a few weeks or months, start to venture out on more in-depth and interesting recipes. It gets to be kind of fun and you can plug and play for the entire week as well as make extra to freeze for contingencies.
Was this helpful? What questions do you have?! DM me or comment below.