What’s the first step in being successful at meal prep and meal planning?
Make a plan.
Aside from the couple hours of cooking you’ll take throughout the week to prepare the meals, all it takes is about 20 minutes to sit down and write out what you plan to make for the week!
Not sure how or where to get started? We’ve created some templates for you at the end of this article (two kinds in fact based on your preference) that you can use to help plan out your meals, ingredients, and what day of the week you’ll be eating them on!
But first, just a few meal prep tips we have for you.
Remember these helpful tips when considering your meal prep:
Be OK eating the same thing several days in a row!
The fewer dishes you can make, the less time you’ll need to spend cooking.
Not only that, fewer dishes means you spend less $$!
You spend less money buying ingredients in bulk rather than in smaller amounts. Why buy 5 different kinds of fruit when you can buy a large bag of apples or bunch of bananas and have an apple or banana each day?
Food variety comes weekly with meal prep, not daily.
Design meals that share ingredients with each other
Why buy a bunch of cilantro or a bag of carrots when you’ll only use half the bunch or bag in one recipe? Find a couple recipes that share ingredients so you make the most use of what’s in your pantry and also don’t have to spend extra on ingredients you’ll only use once!
Another benefit of using an ingredient in multiple recipes is that – if you need to chop, peel or dice the ingredients, you only have to do it in a large batch at once. (and separate it for use in the separate recipes).
Include your Macros in Each Meal
- Vegetables or Fruit
Determine how you will be including each of these in your meals! There are a couple different ways to approach assembling your meals:
- Create “all in one” dishes that incorporate the meat or protein with your vegetables. Examples are this Plantain Lasagna, or Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole.
- Create 2-3 separate “vegetable/carb only” dishes, and cook your meat separately (via grill, slow cooker, roasted in oven, etc). This way, you mix and match your protein and vegetable dishes to add variety to your daily meals. Sauteed Carrots & Brussels Sprouts with Cider Vinegar or Moroccan Inspired Vegetable Stew
Plan a mix of cooked meals…and “on the go” meals
Not all the meals you plan for the week have to be some dish you’ve slaved a couple hours over. Incorporate some on-the-go snacks that are quick to grab, such as veggies and guacamole dip, roasted turkey breast slices with an organic food bar, or yogurt with a piece of fruit.
Own Tupperware that you Love!
You’ll need some way of storing the food that you make – both large batches of food, but also meal-sized amounts.
As far as tupperware, we can’t highly recommend enough the Glasslock Brand.
The flapped-edge lids stay firmly sealed, the containers are made from a durable glass (minimal staining and no BPAs!), AND they actually stack very well in the cupboards compared to their Pyrex competitors.
(we also found the lids to be much more durable as Pyrex brand lids tend to crack, get warped and need constant replacement.)
Some people also find buying a big batch of these To-Go “meal prep” containers to be extremely useful.
Lastly, be sure to check out our Keepin’ It Real Foods Podcast, Episode #8 where we actually talk even more in depth about prepping meals and provide even more tips and tricks to get you started!
Printable Meal Plan Templates!
Planning out your meals for the week doesn’t need to take longer than 20 minutes! In fact, you’ll find this article by Whole Life Challenge to be intriguing about taking the time to plan.
I (Snow) design and use these templates to plan out what I want to make for the week so I can anticipate what I need to grocery shop for, what ingredients I can share between multiple recipes, and just to get a good grounding of what we can expect to eat so nothing is “on the fly.”
I created these mainly because we are budgeting our grocery expenses more for the week even moreso than ever before. We used to just show up to the store and either pick up “what feels good” – and end up buying more ingredients than what we will actually use in the week, or get more meat than what is necessary.
It also gives us a chance to get our pantry and refrigerator beforehand for what we already have, and what we actually need to get.
So….without further ado, here are the printable PDF templates for you to use!
Looking for some recipes to get started on your meal prep?
We have a recipe section full of our Meal Prep Favorites here!