Meal Prep 101

A simple starter guide for the beginner meal prepper!

How to start –

Think about what your goals are with meal prepping. Are you wanting to prep lunches for the week? Are you wanting to have dinners prepped to help you with busy evenings? Or maybe you want to do both. Having an idea of your goals before you make a plan is important.

Next, take some time to go through your ads. If you tend to shop at the same store, check out what kind of produce and meat is on sale for the week. This will help you save money, and narrow down the options on the types of meals that you want to make.

What foods work for you? This needs to be the #1 question you ask yourself before you start making a meal plan. If you know that red meat or wheat leave you feeling badly, then don’t include recipes with these ingredients. By cutting out foods you know don’t work (or that you don’t like), you’re more likely to eat everything you prep.

Different styles of prep-

Batch cooking – Before you go to Pinterest and gather half a dozen recipes you want to try, consider batch cooking to start (don’t worry, you’ll work your way up to those more complicated recipes!). Batch cooking means making a lot of just a few different kinds of foods and using them in different ways. Consider making rice, broccoli, peppers, and chicken. You can season the chicken a couple different ways to build different kinds of rice bowls. You can also prep taco meat and use it in salads, rice bowls, or with taco shells. These simple techniques are easy ways to dip your tow into prepping without overwhelming yourself.

Leftover prep – This style of prep uses the leftovers from dinner each night for lunches the next day. This has more variety than batch cooking does, and it requires less prepping than multiple different meals, but if you are someone who gets tired of eating the same thing easily, then this style is not for you.

Freezer prepping – This style requires you to double recipes, and freeze the 2nd batch. Good examples that work well for freezer prepping are chili, soups, any shredded meat (BBQ pork or Buffalo chicken), taco meat, burritos, meatloaf, etc. This can help save time down the road by thawing out meals to make for lunches or dinners without extra cooking.

Full prep – This kind of prep requires separate dinners and lunches. This involves a lot more work, and isn’t recommended for a beginner, as it could be seen as overwhelming. However, this will give you the most variety if you are someone who gets bored easily.

How to make a plan –

You want to look at recipes and start to form a plan. See how many servings each meal makes. Are you going to use leftovers from dinner for lunches the next day? Or are you going to need to prep separate meals? Pick a style of prep from the previous sectionto build off from.

You want to write down your plan. Whether it’s on paper or typing it in your phone, being able to see your plan is key.

Try picking recipes that are clean. This means picking meals that don’t rely on canned soups and packaged ingredients, but on fresh produce and real ingredients.

Then, begin to build your grocery list. The ingredients you are buying should be on the perimeter of the store, except for a few essentials. If you think about your local store, the produce, meat, frozen goods, and dairy are typically all on the perimeter of the store. The middle aisles usually contain all of your packaged products that you’ll be staying away from, other than beans, rice, pasta, and canned veggies.

How to jump into action –

Look at your menu, and make a plan of action. Think about which items can be made in the oven, which can be made on the stove top, and what you can chop and prep while other things cook. The more you are able to multi-task, the quicker the process goes. For example, if you need to cook chicken, get that in the oven first. Then, start water to boil eggs while you chop broccoli. You can get that in the oven while the chicken finishes, and start on your taco meat. You can then pull the chicken from the oven and allow it to cool while you finish up the taco meat and eggs. Also, using one pan to cook in and washing it before making your next recipe will help you cut down on cleanup. You may be tempted to have a couple different pans on the stove going at the same time, but this increases your chance to burn food, as well as increases your cleanup time. Lining baking dishes with tin foil is also a great way to cut down on cleanup.

Remember, this isn’t an overnight process. It takes time to figure out what works best for you!

Also, make sure you are following me on Facebook and Instagram for extra tips and a behind the scenes look at my weekly meal prep!

3 thoughts on “Meal Prep 101

  1. Hey Allie! We love these helpful tips! We never really considered how many different kinds of prepping there were, thanks for the pointers. We often find condensed lists much easier and more enjoyable to read. We are a website dedicated to promoting healthy and affordable eating to young people – and as you know meal prep is a great way to achieve both of those. We were wondering which kind of prep would be most appropriate for a young individual with a low budget? Would love to know your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I think the best kind of prep for someone on a low budget would be bulk prep. Utilizing items on sale at the store and cooking them in bulk, but seasoning differently, can be cheap, easy, and a healthy way to stay on track!


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