So you finally decided to give meal prepping a try…
I know you’ve seen it in your office fridge, Instagram feeds, and Pinterest scrolls.
Maybe even seen a few of your friends do it, but you shook your head and said: “That’s doing too much!”
But now you are checking it out because
- You are done with cooking every night! 😓
- Tired of seeing your food budget far exceeding your fun budget! 😱
- And secretly want to be one of the cool kids who say they meal prep. 😎
Well I’m that friend and Yes, maybe I am a crazy type A, but meal prep is for everyone!
Not just the overachievers, fad-chasers, and bodybuilders!
I am just a regular chick who started prepping when I got tired of coming home after 8 hours of brain work to cook a full meal, plus lunch for the next day.
I wanted to come home, heat up my food, and turn on the next season of my favorite Netflix show….with a glass of wine.
And I know you do too!
So the initial motivation may be laziness, but motivation is motivation, and it has changed my cooking life ever since!
You Become A Superhuman—Saving Everything!
Would you rather spend 30 minutes to an hour every night after a long hard day at a mind-numbing or body-numbing job cooking a full meal or warming up your food and chilling?
Meal prep keeps you from wasting time and energy on daily cooking.
Take 2 hours to prep all your food for the week and see how much sweeter life gets!
When you save time you can give more to your priorities.
How much do you spend on food monthly?
If you say more than $125 per person you need to reevaluate your choices.
Eating out is great and all, but is it really worth the toll on your wallet?
I got better things to do with my money and I’m sure you do too!
Save your money for the other things in life, that last a lot longer, and have a lot more meaning.
Does anyone else freak out slightly when they see how many calories, carbs, and fat their favorite food has in it?
It really does make me take a minute and think about what I am about to do with my life.
All of my meal prep food is from scratch so I know there aren’t any ratchet ingredients in it and I can easily place it in my Lose it App to see what’s about to go down. Now let me make it clear, I will tear up some fast food (any food really), but 95% of my food is homemade with a lot fewer calories, fat, and artificial chemicals.
An added benefit of meal prepping is being able to portion out your meals and almost force you to stick to your diet. Because why would go out if you have completely prepared, delicious food at home?
Meal Prep -You got time for that!!
Three years of food prepping in various situations (Roommate | Single) and at varying lengths (Weekly | Monthly | Quarterly) has made me a self-proclaimed food prep expert.
I’m not the cutesy Instagram worthy prepper, I’m the daily life I need this to survive prep masta!
If I didn’t meal prep, I would be broke and probably 20 to 30 pounds heavier.
These days I work two jobs equalling 13 hours a day Monday-Thursday + my main job on Friday, then spend my weekends doing everything I couldn’t do throughout the week. (Spending time with my family and friends, blogging, Netflix, Life-prepping, and my cup or two of wine 😇)
This two job situation is helping me pay off my car 2 years faster and my student loans 7+ years faster. Prepping makes this life I live possible: I can reach my goals without sacrificing healthy and delicious food or my love for cooking.
Now don’t get me wrong, I was meal prepping way before I started my two-job situation—so I could have more time to spend on my priorities!
So if you need more time, healthier food options, and more coin at the end of the month keep reading this series! You will get the breakdown of everything meal prep, so we can both be Prep Masta’s!
The Ultimae Guide to Meal Prep:
Step One | Plan it
Get Out Your Calendar
If you want your food prep to be consistent you need to pick 1 day to shop and 1 day to make the food.
If you do it all day you will be worn out and mad at the world. #BeenThereDoneThat
Select one day every two weeks to do meal prep grocery shopping- I like Friday’s right after work since I am already out anyway.
Deem one day a week Meal Prep Day- Think about the best day for you to do this and how much time will this take for cooking and clean up.
Go ahead and make these dates cycle monthly so you can make it a routine.
Sagacious Tip | Add these dates to your work, phone, and personal calendars and set reminders for the week before so you won’t make any plans and have to choose between prepping and a good time. I love prepping, but a good time usually always wins!
Pick A Technique
1 | Start small and GET BIG!
Pick the meal that gives you the most grief to prepare and meal prep it into submission. If you are always rushing out for breakfast, meal prep your breakfast. If you are always too worn out after work, make sure to meal prep your dinners.
The start small and Get Big technique is perfect for:
- Beginner preppers to understand how it works to become a full-blown prepper
- Preppers who don’t have time to meal prep for the whole week
- Preppers who prefer more spontaneity in their meals
2 | Prep and Snap
Everything is “prepped” but not put together.
So things like chopped veggies and fruit and cooked proteins such as chicken, beef, fish, with a huge batch of rice, and snacks.
The ingredients can be mixed and matched into things like stir-fry meals, Buddha bowls, salads, and sandwiches throughout the week.
The prep and snap technique is perfect for:
- Peppers who “claim” 😏 they can’t eat the same meal all week.
- Great for preppers who just want to make their daily cooking a little less time consuming
3 | Full Blown Prep:
Everything is prepped for the week and placed in containers to be displayed on Instagram. 😆 But seriously this consist of a full breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks meal prep.
The full blow prep technique is perfect for:
- If you have 2 or more jobs
- Preppers who have weekly activities that never allow you to cook until the weekend
- Preppers who like to keep cooking to a minimum
The Three Rules of Meal Prep Recipes
Meal prep should be as simple as possible. Your food should fall into the following categories: Easy, Cheap, and Customizable.
1 | Easy AKA Basic
Basic meals lead to a happy meal prep life.
Cooking complex and “cute” meals almost made me give up on meal prep when I first started! One time it took an entire Netflix season-and you know them things can get up to 22 episode! Aint nobody got time for that!
When you try to be cute with it and make your food for the ‘Gram life, you will end up burnt out!
Stick with proteins, carbs, and vegetables and keep the cutesy stuff on the weekends or your nights out.
The harder it is to cook, the longer it will take to prep and that leads to exhaustion which can then lead you to [Your favorite crappy food spot] and a slow but quicker than you think death from crappy food.
Because I don’t want this to be the story of your life, just keep your food basic!
I have been meal prepping for 3 years and it takes me an average of 12 hours to do 3 months AKA a quarter of food prep. So about 50 hours of food making a year or a little over two days when you add it up.You will get there one day, young grasshopper!
Sagacious Tip | Aim for under 2 hours of meal prep for every week of prep you do.
2 | Cheap AKA Budget Friendly
Meal prep should save you time and MONEY. Lots of it! If you plan out your food you know exactly what you need from the store which means you should know exactly how much it is going to cost you and adjust your budget accordingly.
Budget Prep Tips:
- Take a No Food Out challenge for your first month of meal prep. Go hard or go home!
- Gather all the money you budget for food and only use it at the grocery store.
- Try to go shopping only once every two weeks or once a week. The grocery store is set up to entice you to spend. I have a job in marketing so don’t hate us too much. The less you go the less you spend!
- Do cash-only grocery shopping. Check out some awesome reasons why here
- Use coupons, budgeting apps, and know your stores cheap days. I like the apps Ibotta and Checkout 51, but I mostly shop at Aldi and don’t buy name brand food so I got rid of them pretty quickly. **Plus Ibotta started charging me a fee for not using their app. So it’s a real use it or lose it situation.
- Shop at budget grocery stores like Aldi- You will fall in love with that place!
- The best way to make meal prep as budget friendly as possible is to buy bulk. Go ahead and get that Big Box membership because it will save both time and money when it comes to food. This is why my quarterly meal preps [ 3 months of weekday meal prep] only cost me $134.00-the leftover ingredients also feed me on weekends for weeks.
- Use grocery ordering services from Walmart, Kroger, or Sam’s Club. This type of shopping saves lots of time and keeps you from impulse buys while sticking to your budget. Totally winning!
3 | Customizable AKA Made for you to love
Customization adds variety to a possibly bland meal prep and brings out the ninja chef in you!
Meal prep is everywhere and it has become increasingly popular as more and more people realize it’s amazing benefits. It’s easy to get sucked into other peoples food prep images and try to copy everything they make.
While it’s great to be inspired by their photos, let YOUR tastebuds guide you the most!
Make sure everything you make is just how you like it since you are the one who will be eating it for a week. Add more spice, delete an ingredient, and in the words of Trim Healthy Mama “own” your recipes.
My favorite recipe to customize is egg cups.Egg cups are like mini quiches baked in a muffin pan so you can mix and match ingredients for all 12 cups to your heart’s desire.
For example, four of the cups can be ham and cheese, four veggies only, and the last four sausage and peppers. All of them are delicious! 🙂
Here are some of my favorite foods that follow the three rules above. You can put any of these in a Pinterest search and get tons of variations!
- Egg Cups
- Burrito Bowls
- Dump Chicken
- Energy Bites
- Granola bars
Make A Master Recipe List:
Now using the three rules above, build recipe lists on a few Pinterest boards or in a spreadsheet.
Divide out the Pinterest boards or spreadsheet by breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks to make ideating easier.
The Master Prep kit is an awesome resource to help you with the next few steps of meal prep. It has pre-divided recipe list, a list of staples you need for prepping and some bonus tips and tricks. Download it now!
Some additional tips to help with recipe ideas:
- Pick individual serving items like muffins, granola bars, and meatballs- They are easier to divide and conquer
- Make sure most or all of your recipes are freezer friendly- as you get better at prep your freezer will be your best friend
- Choose recipes with 7 ingredients or less- go back and re-read Rule #1
- Pick recipes that have ingredients you already frequently use- no need to start buying weird ingredients!
Check out these Pinterest boards for meal ideas:
Be sure to follow me on Pinterest while you are at it!😉
Sagacious Tip | Set a goal to find 10 recipes for each meal. This will give you plenty of things to choose from every week.
Make a Master Grocery List:
After you have chosen your food you can pull together a grocery list. Make it easy on yourself and divide it out the ingredients from your recipe list into categories like frozen food, dairy, meats, etc. There is a pre-divided list in the Master Prep Kit.
While you are making your list:
1. Check your cabinets and fridge for ingredients you already have
This was a frequent mistake I made when I first started prepping. When things are out of sight, they are truly out of mind. Dig deep into those cabinet crevices and fridge drawers and save some coin by not buying double.
2. Make sure you get your meal prep staples from the Master Prep Kit
The staples list in the kit is what I have learned to use over 3 years of meal prep. You will need every staple on that list eventually, especially if you are training to be a prep master. I usually buy most of my food staples in bulk.
3. Mark which stores you need to get certain items from
On the pre-divided list from the Master Prep Kit, save room to write which store you need to buy your items from. That way you can get all the items you need for that store in one trip.
I have one bulk store [Sam’s Club] and one regular store [Aldi] that I frequent, with only one to two others for specialty items. This has helped me learn the pricing so that I can better budget for my meal prep trips as well as the best times to shop to avoid the crowds and not go when they are understocked.
Once your grocery list is divided it out, you are ready for part 2 of the meal prep series!
You made it thru the planning stage! #Getit!
This process only needs to thoroughly happen once and then it should only take 10 minutes per week of prep planning.
- The Ultimate Guide to Meal Prep: Step Two | Prep it
- The Ultimate Guide to Meal Prep: Step Three | Evaluate it
Evaluate the ReEducation:
- Meal prep saves you time, money, and calories
- Planning is key to sticking to meal prep
- Follow the 3 rules of meal prep recipes to make meal planning a breeze
- Get the Master Prep Kit to get everything you need for meal prep success!
- Keep reading the Meal Prep Series and ReEducate your meal prep.
Are you now prep ready? Do you have any additional tips I can add to the prepping stage of meal prep? Comment below!
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