A Quick Start Guide to Meal Prep
I know meal prep is all the rage now, however if you’re a meal prep beginner and not sure how to meal prep you might be wondering, what’s the big deal? Or if you have tried and felt overwhelmed by meal prepping, you most likely just need a clear quick start guide for you to follow. However, if you’re still one of the few who still hasn’t heard about it, allow me to give you my take on it.
WHAT IS MEAL PREP
Meal prep is essentially prepping your daily meals in advance. Much like those frozen dinners you see in your local grocery store, the draw to meal prep is that it’s quick, easy and most importantly convenient.
Convenience is usually where we get ourselves in trouble, especially when the hangry monster comes out. When we’re hungry, or in a rush, or haven’t sat down to properly plan, we generally end up reaching for what is convenient and quick. Most times, that does not equate to healthy options.
With meal prep, meals are already planned and cooked. Therefore, it’s designed to eliminate reaching for potentially unhealthy snacks or food. It also removes the pressure around eating healthy because you’ve already pre-planned your meals.
YOU ARE IN CONTROL
The best thing about meal prep is that YOU get to control the quality of ingredients and tailor it to your pallet. So, if a recipe calls for rosemary and you love it, then you can go crazy with it. On the flip side, if a recipe calls for garlic and you don’t like it, then you can completely omit it. All that said, the most important thing about meal prep is that it does consist of whole foods. Foods like kale, broccoli, carrots, spinach, lean cuts of meat, seafood, lentils, legumes and the list goes on. Ultimately, meal prep helps you get more of those good quality ingredients in your diet and allows you to stay on a healthy track.
With all that, there are obviously some misconceptions about meal prep as well. I think the biggest misconception I’ve seen is that there are certain “rules” you have to follow. I’m not sure where this came from, but I think social media is partly to blame for it. Surely you’ve heard of Meal Prep Monday or Meal Prep Sunday, right? You see so many people with all of their meals for the week lined up in neat little containers ready to tackle their week. While that is great and works for some, I’ve come to realize that it does not work for most. If you’re new to meal prep, that can be overwhelming and seem like a daunting task to take on especially when you don’t know where to start.
WHAT’S MY #1 MEAL PREP RULE
So, what’s my number one rule when it comes to meal prep? Well, I’m so happy you asked! Ultimately, finding a system that works for you and that you’re willing to stick with. There you go, that’s it. Hopefully that frees you from thinking you must cook all your meals on one day for an entire 7 days. Nope, not if that doesn’t fit your lifestyle or schedule. Meal prep should give you freedom. Freedom to be flexible so it fits within your lifestyle and you’re not always bound by some unwritten rule.
By now you’re probably thinking, okay that all sounds great, but where do I start? Allow me to give you a very simple quick start guide for you when it comes to meal prep.
HOW TO MEAL PREP – QUICK START GUIDE
If you’re still at a loss of how to meal prep or where to start, see below for a quick start guide:
1. First determine how many meals you will need. Do you want to start slow and prep 3 meals (essentially 1 day’s) worth of meals? Or do you want to be a bit ambitious and cook 6 meals? Once this is done, then you can move forward with identifying which meals you will cook.
2. Next decide which meals you plan to cook. Is it breakfast and lunch for 2 days? Breakfast, lunch and dinner for three days? Again, no right or wrong, just choose what is going to work best with your schedule for the week.
3. Once you’ve decided how many meals and which meals you plan to cook, then make a simple meal plan (or outline) of what those exact meals will look like. Write them down along with the recipe(s) so you can clearly see what ingredients will be needed.
You can find my handy worksheets for meal planning, grocery shopping and a clean eating guide in my Etsy shop.
EXAMPLE OF QUICK START MEAL PREP GUIDE
1. I need to cook 4 meals this week
2. My 4 meals will be breakfast and lunch for 2 days
3. I will have French toast muffins for breakfast and crispy chicken salad for lunch
1. I need to cook 4 meals this week
2. My 4 meals will be lunch for my work week
3. I will cook orange chicken to pack for my lunch this week
After you’ve planned your meals and written them down, the only thing left is to go grocery shopping and cook!
Looking for some yummy recipes along with a step by step task guide for your first meal prep session? You can check out my Meal Prep Recipe starter bundle.