One of the most important tools that Chris and I use for staying on track with our personal health goals whether it be muscle building, weight loss or just trying to avoid certain allergenic food ingredients is WEEKLY MEAL PREP!
We have been doing this for years because it not only helps to keep us on track but it also saves us tons of time and money. The rare times that I do leave the house without my prepped meals, it usually costs me at least $10 for a somewhat healthy meal. When I cook my food at home, it can cost me only a few dollars per meal. It really makes a difference! Plus it's so hard to know what ingredients are really being used in your food when buying quick meals out on the go.
So today I am going to share with you some of our favorite tips and tricks for weekly meal prep!
Let's get started!
First, Make a list of all the food you enjoy eating.
Search for recipes on Pinterest or you can start with the recipes in my free 7-day meal plan. You can make all your meals ahead of time if you prefer, so save breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes that you love. Use recipes that will allow you to have leftovers so you can eat them throughout the week instead of using a different recipe for each meal. The easier the recipe the better so you don't get overwhelmed.
Print out a blank meal planner and start to map out your meals. Ideally your meal plan would include blank spaces for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Take inventory of the items you already have in the kitchen and create your grocery list.
Next, Choose your meal prep batch cooking method.
Choose between 2 options: the “cook once, eat three times” method or the big batch cooking method for the entire week.
The goal of each method is to decrease time spent in the kitchen AND money in the grocery store so that you can spend more time and money on stuff that you love!
Option 1: “Cook Once, Eat Three Times” Method
How this option works is that you will do the bulk of your food shopping on either Saturday or Sunday morning. On Sunday, you would prep and cook your meals for days 1-3. Then, on Wednesday, you would prep and cook your meals for days 4-6 and so on. Technically you will need 1 extra lunch and dinner for Sunday, so the last part of the week will actually cover 4 meals unless Sunday is a free day.
Each prepared dish needs to have be 3 (or 4 if you include Sunday) servings in order to cover three different meals. If you are cooking for 2 or more people, then you will want to double or triple your recipes accordingly and also adjust the amounts needed.
Option 2: Big Batch Cooking Method
If you are super busy, like me, you could do all your shopping on Saturday, cook the whole week's meals on Sunday and freeze them individually if needed. Then, just grab each meal as you go throughout the week - major time saver! This will allow you to add even more variety to your meal plan by rotating your 4 main entrees all throughout the week so you are never eating the same meals on back-to-back days.
Choose whichever cooking method works best for your schedule and your taste buds.
Remember: There is no right or wrong way to weekly meal prep. The main thing is for you to figure out which cooking method saves you the most amount of time and works best for your schedule.
Time Saving Meal Prep Tips:
Be productive while you cook! Cooking doesn't have to consume all your time. Turn on your favorite podcast, you can do other household chores, check emails or watch your favorite show or YouTube channel.
Create your meal plan with food you already have on hand. Save time and money by working with what you have in your freezer, pantry and fridge already. Keeping your meals as simple as possible will save you time and can still taste super delicious!
Clean-up while you cook. As you cook, start soaking and washing dishes or load your dish washer. wipe up messes on the counter and put away anything that isn't being used. This way you don't get overwhelmed with a big clean up job at the very end.
Take a few extra minutes to throw your complete meals into containers. Once all your cooking is done, throw your meals into little grab and go containers. This will save you tons of time during the week as you won't even need to think twice about making your lunch each day. Plus this also makes it easy to throw meals into the freezer if you don't get to eat them during the week.
Pre-prep and freeze your protein smoothie ingredients. Wash, trim and freeze your fruit or better yet, buy organic frozen fruit. Then place each days fruit smoothie portions plus your protein powder (I use this yummy pumpkin protein), seeds, greens, and any other ingredients you desire into individual jars or BPA-free ziplock baggies to freeze. Each morning you can throw them into the blender, add almond milk, and GO!
Pull out the crockpot for no fuss meals. You can make super easy meals overnight or while you are out for the day. Just chop up a bunch of veggies like onion, celery, and potatoes, add your protein of choice and seasonings, then let it cook on low for about 8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. This will literally save you so much time and result in a delicious tasting meal. Try this easy crockpot beef stew recipe to get started!
Use parchment paper to help keep food from sticking to the pan or dish. Sometimes vegetables and meats will stick to pans when cooking and can create a real mess to clean up. Line your pans with parchment paper to prevent sticking and make clean up a breeze. It is also helpful to place parchment paper over the top of dishes, like baked chicken, while cooking to avoid splattering and to help lock in the juices.
Getting the hang of weekly meal prep may take some practice but you will get the hang of it! The first couple times I did meal prep on my own, took hours. I quickly found my groove and was able to get it all done in half the time which ultimately saved me tons of time throughout the week! Feel free to leave me any questions you have in the comments below. Also, if you need more meal prep tips and recipes, don't forget to download my free 7-day meal plan.
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