Meal Prep: How to Plan & Prep
I don’t know about you, but I really don’t have time to spare every day cooking healthy things to eat. This is why we invented meal prep!
Most days I don’t even want to cook at all.
But then I get hungry.
When I get hungry, I grab whatever is quickest or on the go, if necessary.
For me, that used to be anything microwavable: pizzas, burritos, hot pockets.
Or, something that did not required cooking: pies, candy, cookies.
That was before meal prep.
After months of baby steps and loads of practice, now I still just run in the kitchen and
grab whatever is quickest.
Still something microwavable: burgers, soups, stuffed peppers, casseroles.
Or, something that does not require cooking: fresh mixed fruit bowls, beautiful salads or colorful smoothies.
With meal prep, the options are ENDLESS!
The most important thing to learn and remember early on is that planning is key.
It is not the best idea to just walk into the grocery store not knowing what you might come home with.
This is how we waste food! When I started trying to eat healthy, I knew that fruits, veggies and chicken were healthy.
So, I got a lot of those. By the end of the week, I would have to throw out a ton of things
because I didn’t use them fast enough, or didn’t know how to use them when I was hungry.
Remember how I said, when I get hungry… I’m ready to eat now.
Meal prep does not have to be super extreme, I think there are different levels to it.
Level One would be cutting up your fruits & veggies to store.
Level Two is also taking the cut up produce, plus your proteins and portioning them out. I store all my meal prep in single serving sizes so I never have to worry about over eating.
Level Three is fully prepared meals in large batches to keep some in the refrigerator and some in the freezer. Essentially, you’re making a large dinner to have leftovers for a few days.
The very first thing you’re going to want to do is buy a good amount of Tupperware. I have a ton, yet always seem to run out. Next, you’re going to need to work on your plan. I try to choose recipes with similar ingredients so I never have any go to waste, or run out of something. If I only plan 1 meal with 1/4 of an onion in it and no other meals with onions, what do I do with the rest of it?! Waste.
Here is a link to my chart of how long food lasts in the refrigerator.
This should help you figure out what to plan on eating tomorrow and what will last until next week.
I also go grocery shopping and meal prep back to back, usually on my day off so I can dedicate all the time I want to this! The meal plan I’m going to show you took me about 4 hours total with shopping, cooking and storing. I also threw a little cleaning into the mix!
I always start out with my meal plan calendar. I take a look at my week and see when I have work or school or any other events that will take me out of the house, then I try to plan around that. I will ever write my work schedule under the days of the week to help me out. I don’t want to schedule myself a super complicated dinner on a night where I know I will be gone from 4 to 9PM… just doesn’t make sense. On those nights I need to eat something that’s already ready either in the fridge or freezer or even crockpot. The idea is to make life easier, not harder.
Now that you have your calendar and grocery list finished, you’re ready to go shopping! As soon as I get home from the store, I start cooking and cutting. I cook all my meals and depending on the meal, I usually put the first 3-4 days worth of cooked food in the fridge and the rest in the freezer to be taken out the night before I need it.
Keep reading to go through MY meal plan for the week!
I’m going to try and explain step by step my crazy process of prepping this week. I did it successfully and with practice you can to! Here are the links to all the recipes I used on this calendar.
I start cooking the things that take the longest and need the least amount of attention so I can do smaller tasks while they cook; this will save you time!
So first things first, like I’ve said… cut everything up! Before you start cooking, cut and prep your produce! There should be containers that look like this.
Now, preheat the oven to 450 and prepare to cook the ALL the chicken for all your recipes. The chicken on the right is the Pesto Chicken.
Once you put the chicken in the oven, set a timer for 20 minutes and start cooking some bacon and boiling some eggs; both used for the Strawberry Cobb Salad. Next, throw on a pot of water to cook some brown rice for the Chicken Fried Rice.
Next, start forming the patties for the Loaded Mushroom Burgers . Pay attention to your bacon! I’ve burnt it many times!
The burgers are going to need to cook 4-5 minutes on each side, so while they cook, prep the celery and peanut butter and put away. Pay attention to the clock so you can flip the burgers! In between flips and putting on new burgers, I also prep my shakes and Protein Pancakes.
For the celery & peanut butter I made 5 servings (5 days) worth. Each serving is 2 stalks of celery and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. I use Skippy Reduced Fat Chunky.
For my shakes, I used 1 cup of frozen cherries and 1 cup of spinach, put them in baggies and freeze. I don’t add the protein powder until I made them.
NOTE: By now you should have a few dishes starting to pile up… just wash them as you go, seriously. You’re going to need them again later because we are cooking a lot of food here people!
So, by now the chicken, bacon, eggs and burgers are done. Portion everything out, finish making Pesto Chicken, Avocado Chicken Salad, and Strawberry Cobb Salad. Store in containers and put away. On to round two of cooking!
Start cooking the Tortellini Soup, and prepare the Portobello mushrooms to be stored. I put two in the marinade in the fridge and the other 2 need to be frozen. To freeze, cook in a pan for 5 minutes on each side with cooking spray and then put in an ice bath to cool. Put in airtight containers an freeze.
Let the soup continue to cook and start the meat for the Black Bean & Turkey Tacos. While the turkey browns, heat a large pan or wok with sesame seed oil to began cooking the veggies for the Chicken Fried Rice.
Finish out both these recipes, portion everything so it’s all ready to go and put away!
This is a lot of food, so feel free to go as slow and take as many steps as you need until your comfortable with the process. It takes time, so do not be discouraged! If you’ve made it this far, great! Now, just follow your calendar and look at it every night to make sure you don’t forget to take food out of the freezer for the next day.
I have a ‘Meal 6’ option on my calendar so I have extra food on the days that I exercise. Each day is planned out to be between about 1500-1800 calories with the 5 meals. If I burn an extra 400 calories from working out, I need to eat more for more fuel! That is what the 6th meal is for. I am a calorie counter!
Here’s the nutritional information per day with the first 5 meals. Keep in mind, you do not have to eat the food in the order of the calendar day. You can have a burger for breakfast and some pancakes for dinner, whatever you’re feeling that day!
Monday: Calories – 1,446 Fat – 65 g Carbs – 143 g Protein – 89 g
Tuesday: Calories – 1,545 Fat – 61 g Carbs – 151 g Protein – 108 g
Wednesday: Calories – 1,566 Fat – 58 g Carbs – 181 g Protein – 99 g
Thursday: Calories – 1,624 Fat – 77 g Carbs – 98 g Protein – 137 g
Friday: Calories – 1,814 Fat – 77 g Carbs – 156 g Protein – 134 g
Saturday: Calories – 1,587 Fat – 77 g Carbs – 131 g Protein – 140 g
Sunday: Calories – 1,676 Fat – 57 g Carbs – 180 g Protein – 120 g
Note: I am NOT a doctor! I am NOT a nutritionist! This is MY PERSONAL PLAN that works for ME!
Products I use
My Lunch Box My Ice Packs My Tupperware!!