When you’re trying to lose weight, your diet is going to play a huge role so let’s learn how to start meal prepping for the week. This way you will be sure you get enough nutrients while saving time and money.
Even if you consistent with your workouts, it can be tough to find time to also cook wholesome meals! Sometimes, it’s just easier to order take out or hit the drive-through. That’s why it’s super important to start meal prepping when you’re on the path to a healthier lifestyle – it’ll feel great to know that you always have a meal at home ready and waiting for you!
In this post, I’ll show you what you need for meal prepping and how to do it the right way.
What is meal prepping?
Meal prepping is a method of either cooking or preparing your meal ingredients ahead of time. The way that your meal prep will largely depend on your goals and lifestyle, but we’re going to have tips for how to start meal prepping for everyone in this article!
Once you learn how to meal prep, you’ll quickly realize all of the benefits it has! Here are a few:
- Saves time and money
- Reduces the stress about wondering what to eat/cook
- Helps you make healthier eating choices because you’ll always have a nutritious meal ready to go!
How to start meal prepping
It might seem overwhelming at first, but once you’ve been meal prepping for a few weeks, you’re going to get a great flow.
Let’s break it down into steps!
Step 1. Pick your containers.
One of the worst things about getting takeout is the fact that there’s so much packaging. Think of meal prepping as your own personal take out service with practically zero waste!
You’ll want to stock up on plenty of airtight food storage containers that are made of glass or other eco-friendly materials. You can find meal prep containers that are divided up into smaller sections for the different elements of your meal, or you can pack a few containers of different sizes.
I personally use these ones from Amazon because they are 100% zero waste – only glass and bamboo, they have a vacuum lid that prevents leakage when I take meals with me, and they look super stylish. I enjoy my meal prepping when I use these containers.
Step 2. Create a meal plan
Some people like to prep a huge meal (batch prepping) and eat the same things all week. While that’s totally fine, others like to have a little bit of variety. Try mapping out your meals this way:
- Five dinners
- 1-2 different breakfasts and lunches that you can alternate throughout the week
- Healthy snack ideas that are easy to pack into small containers
If you need a little bit of inspiration, here’s a list of the best foods for meal prepping if your goal is weight loss. You can use this list as a jumping-off point to build recipes around:
- Sturdy vegetables – celery, carrots, bell peppers, radishes, cabbage
- Whole grains – oats, quinoa, barley, rice. Use them only for lunches, and keep your dinners extra light by choosing vegetables instead of grains.
- Starchy vegetables – sweet potato, parsnips, pumpkin.
- Leafy greens – spinach, romaine, spring mix, kale
- Protein – salmon, chicken breast, eggs, Greek yogurt, tofu, turkey
- Low sugar fruits and berries: oranges, kiwi, plumps, all berries .
- Nuts & seeds – almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, peanuts, cashews, etc.
You can check my meal prep posts with yummy and healthy recipes to get some ideas on what to cook:
Step 3. Create your shopping list
Once you’ve got your meal plan all mapped out, write down a list of every ingredient you’ll need. If your list starts to get overwhelming, consider revisiting your meal plan and making less complicated meals. This is all about making life easier!
Step 4. Go shopping
If you’re super busy (like most of us are) or get overwhelmed by the grocery store, see if your local grocery store offers online shopping! Even if they don’t do delivery, just having to drive to the store and load up your car is a huge relief when you’ve already got a million other things to do.
Step 5. Start meal prepping!
Okay, now we’ve got to the really good part. The first four steps are definitely the easiest, and now we’re going to get into the different methods of meal prepping. You might choose to stick to the same method every time if you find that’s what work for you, or you might do a combination of a few different methods depending on the meal.
- Buffet style – with this method, you’ll prepare a few proteins, grains, and veggies that you can mix and match throughout the week. You don’t have to stick to a certain meal structure with this method, you can change it up day by day!
- Batch prepping – whip up an extra-large pot of your favorite stew, soup, or curry. Portion it out into smaller containers in the fridge or freezer and you’ve got a meal that’s ready after a few minutes in the microwave.
- Assemble raw ingredients – this is great for stir fry, slow cooker meals, meat-based dishes, and casseroles. Throw all of the ingredients you’ll need for a meal into a single container. When you’re ready to cook, all you have to do is empty the bag into a pot or throw it in the oven!
- Create pre-cooked meals – with this method of meal prepping, you’re going to create full meals and place them in a container as if you were plating the meal for yourself. This is a super easy “grab and go” style of meal prepping that might only need a minute in the microwave to be delicious. However, with this method, you can also create meals that are delicious to eat cold and take no reheating whatsoever!
I usually do meal prep on Sundays – I spend a few hours cooking and preparing foods. I make a few ready-to-eat meals for the next days, and also cook a bunch of my stable foods – like chickpeas, boiled eggs, vegan burgers etc. so I can use them for creating quick and fresh meals when I get bored.
Thanks to this method, during the week I don’t have to spend time on cooking and I always know that I have healthy low-calorie meals for every day.
Meal prepping Apps
If you’re totally stumped on what kind of meals to prepare, there are some really helpful meal prepping apps out there like:
- Mealime – allows you to customize your suggestions based on likes, dislikes, and dietary restrictions.
- PlateJoy – helps to create meal plans for you and your whole family based on health, fitness, and weight loss goals.
- Yummly – this app has a built in AI feature that helps to create meal ideas based on the ingredients that you have on-hand. All you have to do is take a photo of the ingredients and upload it to the app!
Now that you know how to start meal prepping, you can begin creating your meal plans and shopping lists. Don’t worry if it takes a few weeks to really get the hang of it! Like any lifestyle change, there’s going to be a bit of trial and error. Just keep on doing your best and never stop believing in yourself!
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