The 2 main things you want to keep in mind when it comes to meal prepping are:
1. Yes, meal prepping takes time and there is no getting around that; and
2: You don’t have to prep everything!
Meal Prepping Takes Time
Meal prepping is something that you have to set aside time to do, BUT you will be saving yourself a ton of time when you are busy during the week. My first suggestion is to pick a day that you know you have free time. For some, that might be Sunday and for others that might be a Wednesday. It doesn’t matter which day, but pick a day that you have about an hour to 2 hours of time available.
Next, think about the meals you have the most trouble with during the week. Do you struggle with eating breakfast in the morning because you are always late and running out the door? Or do you struggle with those in-between meals and end up snacking on junk or overeating at dinner because you are starving? This is the time to evaluate your days and figure out where meal prepping would be the most effective.
Then, think about what you like to eat for specific meals and make sure you have those items on hand on the day of your meal prepping. For example, I don’t eat a lot for breakfast, but I really like to have protein and fresh fruit in the morning. What can I prep ahead of time that has protein and fresh fruit? I make a protein filled chia seed pudding, prep it ahead of time, throw it in the fridge and pre-cut my fruits. In the morning I grab a bowl, fill it with the chia seed pudding, top it with my pre-cut fruits and eat! It’s really that simple once you have prepped. I don’t have to think about it and I don’t have to prepare anything because it’s all done in advance.
You want to make sure that you have a list to take with you to the grocery store of items you need for meals for the week. It’s important to think a little bit ahead about what you might like for the week. You don’t have to plan every single meal (unless you want to), because you can prep multiple items and choose what you want on the day. In my case, in addition to prepping the chia seed pudding, I also prep protein pancakes incase I prefer to have that in the morning.
Also, make sure that you have plenty of airtight containers of different sizes and zip lock bags for prepping!
You Don’t Have to Prep Everything
Don’t try and make your entire weekly menu plan in advance - this will completely overwhelm you as a beginner. Start slow and prioritize the meals you have the most trouble with during the week until you get more familiar with the process.
Food prepping can mean anything; you don’t necessarily need to prep all of your meals completely. It can be as simple as chopping up onions, peppers, and other veggies for dinner and putting them in a ziplock in the fridge ahead of time. Even something as small as that saved you precious time in the evening. Put together smoothie ingredients in small ziplock bags and set them aside in the freezer so they are already portioned. Wash and cut up fruit & cheese for snacks. Whatever helps to make your week easier!
Just like weight loss, food prepping will not be sustainable or effective if you are not consistent with it and if it doesn’t fit into your lifestyle. There is no right or wrong way to food prep - just do what you can and prioritize. The strategies that work for me may not work for you. I just hope that you can be inspired to take bits and pieces that work for you and adapt them to fit into your lifestyle! Food prep is about making life easier. It takes some time and effort, but it’s amazing when you can reap the rewards of your hard work and enjoy healthy, satisfying meals that are ready-to-eat! :)
Here are some ideas of meals that can be prepped in advance:
Chia Seed Pudding
Egg Breakfast Muffins
Hard Boiled Eggs
Yogurt with Fruit (cut in advance)
Leftover Dinner :)
Salad in a Mason Jar
Burrito (prep meat & veggies)
Prepped Veggie Hash with Hard Boiled Egg
Veggie Snack Packs
Frozen Banana & Peanut Butter
Shredded/Ground Meats (cooked ahead of time)
Candice Canace Rulnick has been a NASM certified personal trainer since 2014. She specializes in women's fitness, weight loss, and overall health and wellness. Candice offers personal training to women in Charlotte, NC and also provides home and gym workouts through her online training app.
Candice Canace Rulnick has been a NASM certified personal trainer since 2014. She specializes in women's fitness, weight loss, functional anatomy and overall health and wellness. Candice offers one-on-one personal training and small group training to women in Charlotte, NC. She also provides home and gym workouts through her online training app.