I love cooking, but I don’t always have time to spend hours making a lavish meal. Meal prepping saves me so much time and money, but it also ensures that I always have nutritious food that’s ready to eat.
Meal prep doesn’t have to be daunting or be time consuming. With just a little bit of time or effort you can throw together a healthy and delicious meal.
The Mr. and I are usually either busy training or traveling so trust me when I say these tips work. I would much rather be running or resting when I’m home instead of spending hours every night making dinner.
Keep It Simple
Don’t complicate something that can be so simple and don’t get bogged down by ingredient lists or recipe ideas.
A couple staple ingredients like lean protein, whole grains, frozen veggies, fresh leafy greens and canned beans or tomatoes are the base of nearly every weeks recipes. I’ve learned to use the one ingredient a couple different ways and it works!
Create a Plan
There’s no need to spend more than 5-10 minutes each week making a plan. Look at your calendar and go from there. You don’t need to be precise because you will want some wiggle room, but you need to see how many nights you will be eating in and how much you want for leftovers. Also take into account if you want to have breakfast and snack options.
I used to prep separate meals for lunch and dinner, but now I just make dinner and plan to roll the leftovers to lunch the next day. We like the variety and since nothing takes too long to throw together it’s easy.
Some folks have a lot of success with using the same weekly template every week, example: Taco Tuesday, Rice Bowl, Pizza, Pasta or Breakfast for Dinner. I think there are endless options. I think this would be really helpful if you had the same schedule every week.
I approach this differently. I try to work in the same types of meals every week, but work them around our schedule. Items that take a little more time get prepared on days where I have a little more time, like the weekend or Tuesdays.
- Freezer – Either something I prepared in a previous week or a meal from the freezer like Trader Joes turkey burgers with fries and salad/frozen veggie.
- Breakfast for Dinner – This is so easy and the options are endless. Our personal favorites are chocolate chip pancakes with bacon or turkey sausage or a frittata with leftover veggies and potatoes.
- Lean Protein, Veggie and Starch – The combinations are endless and it’s so easy because you can use whatever grain you have in the pantry or frozen veggie on hand.
- Roasted chicken with potatoes and veggies
- Shredded pork loin with rice and veggies
- Quinoa with black beans and veggies
- Turkey burgers with sweet potatoes and veggies
- Crockpot – Either an actually recipe or Salsa Chicken for salads, tacos, quesadillas, rice bowls, etc. (<—- literally just chicken and salsa cooked in the crockpot then shredded)
- Date Night/New Recipe – We sometimes go out or order food from our favorite bar, but lately I’ve been making this type of food at home. Recently I made turkey patty melts with tater tots and salad. It was delicious and very different from all the healthier food we typically eat in a week.
Shopping List Template
I have recently started using a shopping list template and it is such a time saver! There are lots of examples on Pinterest, but I decided to make my own. My shopping list template consists of items we eat every week in the order that they appear at my grocery store. I simply print off a couple lists, store them in my planner and check off items that we need before heading to the store.
Start Small and Be Patient
If you are new to prepping meals or are coming back after the holiday season, be patient and set realistic expectations. If you can only meal prep one or two meals a week then start there. It may seem more time consuming at first, but you will get faster and it will be easier once you work into a routine. I love coming home after a long day and knowing what I’m going to make without having to stop at the store for last minute stuff or spend money on food that’s unhealthy for me.
Set aside a little time to get started and use your downtime to your advantage. If you are cooking rice for tonight’s dinner then use that time to prep the next morning’s breakfast or prep snacks for the week.
Do you meal prep?
Do you have any tips?