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Meal Prep 101: Your Guide to All Things Meal Planning

We all have busy schedules. Whether it’s long work hours, back-to-back kid’s activities, or straight-up exhaustion, cooking nutritious meals from scratch every night is usually out of the question—meal planning is where it’s at! 

The idea of meal planning might make you roll your eyes. “I could never be one of those people!” Well, think again! You’re about to become one of those who master how to food prep for the week (it’s not as overwhelming as you think—I promise). 

Once you nail down the meal prep essentials, you’re good to go! The goal here is menu planning made easy to help you reduce stress and save time during the week. Yes, you can prepare nutritious meals and snacks for yourself and your family with a little effort (say it with me, “YES YOU CAN!”). The trick is to work smarter, not harder when meal prepping. I’m here to show you how to do it! 

Why is meal planning important? Meal prep can save you time, give you great-tasting meals, and reduce stress if you know the simple tips and tricks. This guide serves up the tastiest tips for all things meal planning. Ready, set, prep! 

How to Food Prep for the Week 

Let’s get to it! If you’re wondering how long do meal preps last, a general timeframe starts with prepping for a week’s worth of meals. Most prepared food items don’t last longer than a week in the fridge (unless you’re freezing your meals, which will make them last longer). If you’re a meal prep newbie, start by prepping for the week ahead. As you nail down your routine, you can prepare meals that last even longer.   

Use these tips (backed by a certified nutritionist—that’s me!) for meal planning success: 

Itemize Your Shopping List 

All things meal planning starts by creating menus for your meals for the week. Think about what you want to eat and make a shopping list (pick-up or delivery services from your local grocery store are HUGE timesavers!). This helps you stay organized and avoid the stress of deciding what to make for dinner each night. Look for healthy and easy-to-prepare recipes you can make in bulk or freeze for later—it’s all about menu planning made easy. 

meal prep essentials

Prep the Ingredients for Your Meals 

Prepare your ingredients for the week by chopping vegetables, cooking grains, and pre-cooking proteins. This will make meal prep much easier and WAY less stressful during the week! A slow cooker or Instant Pot will help you prepare meals with minimal effort. Add the ingredients in the morning and let them cook all day. You can use it for soups, stews, and even roasts (anyone else getting hungry?). Sheet pan meals and air fryers can really make your meal-prepping easier, too! 

Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Prep 

This is YOUR kitchen, and you’re the head chef (Got it? Yes, chef!). While you don’t have to work against the clock like you’re in a cooking competition, you shouldn’t have to spend too much time on it either. Rather than spending 3 hours of your Sunday prepping, let’s scale it down to 1 hour—that’s all you need! There’s A LOT you can get done in 60 minutes. Listen to your favorite podcast or jam out to some tunes—before you know it, you’ll finish your prep! 

Prep As You Go by Cooking Larger Portions 

Depending on your schedule, it might be easier to prep as you go during the week. When you’re cooking a meal, consider making extra servings. If you’re making chicken breasts, throw in a few extra that you can use in other recipes throughout the week. This can save you time and energy, as you can reheat the leftovers for a quick dinner later in the week. 

Stock Up on Frozen Meal Prep Essentials 

The freezer is your friend when it comes to all things meal planning. If you’re in a pinch, reach for some frozen fruits or veggies from your freezer (bonus: frozen produce can be just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts when frozen at peak freshness). Use these frozen superfoods to add to your meals or for a healthy snack. Frozen veggies work perfectly in a warm and comforting soup, a hearty rice dish, or thrown into your eggs in the morning. Frozen fruits are best for smoothies and to put on top of cereal or yogurt—get creative! 

Deliver Meals to Your Doorstep  

Shortcuts during the week when you’re short on time are a lifesaver! Using a meal delivery service throughout the week is fine to fill in the gaps. Enjoy pre-cooked, healthy meals for those busy weeks to stay on track (my family loves Factor meals). All you need to do is warm them up when hunger strikes! Another quick option is meal-kit subscriptions (like HelloFresh or EveryPlate) that send you everything you need, so there’s no guesswork. 

Make Meal Prepping Work for You! 

Meal prep doesn’t have to be complicated or take up all day on a Sunday. When you first start, you won’t be an instant expert. It’s okay to prep throughout the week or use meal kits and pre-cooked meals when you run out of prepared meals. Find the balance that works for you and your schedule. The rest will come easily as long as you have the meal prep essentials! If you want to dig deeper into all things meal planning and developing healthy habits, I’m here for you!  As a certified holistic health and nutritional coach, I help women ditch diets, increase energy, reset metabolisms, and balance hormones. It all starts with what you put in your body. Food is medicine, and it’s time to treat it as such. Ready to get started? Learn more about my 1:1 coaching services, and let’s prioritize your health!

After years of fad diets, I found myself in an unending cycle of failure. Trying to figure out a healthy lifestyle on my own left me feeling confused and alone. After discovering the science behind food and the behaviors that impact lasting change - I've never gone back. Now, my passion is to help women live energetic and confident lives without the yo-yo dieting.

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