Meal Prep For Beginners

Meal prepping is essential to a healthy lifesyle. Not only does it help you stay on track, it reduces the amount of food you waste, helps eliminate the stress of wondering what to make and eat each day, prevents you from running through a drive through because you're out of food and starving, and saves you time in the kitchen in the long run. But where do you begin? Below are a few basic steps to get you started. The more you prep, the better you will get and the more you will learn about which meals you prefer prepped ahead of time and which you don't.

1. Plan Out Your Meals For the Week

Write it all out! Plan what you will have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus snacks - each and everyday. Don't be afraid to repeat meals or snacks throughout the week, or even take leftovers for lunch the next day. This will make it a lot easier come prep time if you're not trying to make 20 completely different recipes!

*Make a list of some of your favorite go-to recipes and snacks. Write down EVERYTHING that comes to mind. Then plug some items from that list into your daily meal plans. Determine which meals will need to be prepped and portioned ahead of time, and which you will make from scratch during the week.

2. Go Shopping

Once you've decided what you're going to eat for the week, you need to make your grocery list. Make a detailed list of everything you will need to make each meal and stick to it! Don't buy anything that isn't on the list unless it's there's some kind of great sale and a chance to stock up on an item.

Buying only what you need for the week will help reduce the amount of food wasted when extras don't get eaten. Saving you money!

3. Prep

Now the fun part! Get all your meals cooked, portioned, and put together!

-Go through your recipes and determine which meals will take the longest to cook. Start those first.

- Wash and precut fruits and veggies for the week. EVEN BETTER: once they're all cut up, portion them in snack sized bags so you can just grab and go.

- Cook meats and starches in bulk. You might also want to make enough so that you can freeze some of the meat and have it ready for another week.

- Use mason jars! They're not just used to make salads look cute on Pinterest - they actually work! If assembled properly, you can prep all your salads for the week in their own jars, without having to worry about them getting soggy.

To do this - first add your dressing to the jar so that it's at the very bottom. Next add your sturdier veggies (tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, carrots, etc. ), then add any proteins or starches you're putting in the salad. Top it off with your lettuce! Once it's ready to eat, dump all ingredients into a bowl or container. Or if on the go, just give your salad a shake and eat it right out of the jar - make sure you leave a little room to get to everything, it won't mix as well this way.

- Season everything! Create your own healthy dressings, marinades and spice rubs. Just beacuse it's healthy doesn't mean it lacks flavour! Homemade dressings, and seasonings are much better for you than the store bought kinds, usually lower in calories, and have much higher quality ingredients.

-Make sure you have an assortment of containers! You will want some large ones to hold bulk items (chopped head of lettuce, cooked chicken breasts, cooked sweet potatoes), some medium ones to hold pre-assembled breakfasts/lunches/dinners, and small ones to hold dressings/toppings/snacks.

-Don't forget about breakfast! There are many healthy options that can be prepped ahead of time for breakfast - so quit skipping it!!! Examples: egg cups, pancakes, overnight oats, quinoa bowl with fruit, chopped fruit with eggs, veggie and egg scramble.... etc.

- Pick a day that works best for you! It might be Sunday or maybe you prep on Monday. Or maybe you prep a little on Sunday and again another night during the week like Wednesday. There is no set day that you have to prep, find out how to best fit it into your schedule and lifestyle!

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