Meal Prepping 101
Our nutrition coaches swear by the power of meal prepping. It’s the ultimate way to save time, save money, and eat better — all in one fell swoop.
If you’re new to meal prepping, we’ve outlined a few simple steps to get you started. These tips and tricks will help guarantee a successful first run (and some Instagram-worthy #mealprepping pics).
1. Stock up on Storage
The first step is to invest in quality food containers. Glass containers tend to be easier to clean, while plastic ones are usually lighter. If you choose plastic, consider getting ones without BPA, which is a chemical that can leach into food. Get containers that are large enough to hold a full meal, but not too big to carry around. Bonus points if they’re stackable, so you can save room in your fridge.
2. Start Small
A common misconception about meal planning is that every meal and snack should be planned out for the whole week. This may work for some people, but it may be daunting for others. If this is your first foray into meal prep, start small and get the hang of it, then build on your progress.
That could mean prepping just two day’s worth of lunches or dinners. Or you could prep certain components, like a big batch of veggies or whole grains, which you can complement with ready-made proteins.
3. Pick a Day (or Two)
Sunday is the most popular day for meal prepping because you can grocery shop and cook in the same day. But if you’d rather not spend your entire Sunday in the kitchen, that’s OK too. Perhaps Tuesday evenings are better for you. Or maybe you want to try the two-day method: grocery shop one day and cook the next day. Find what works for your schedule. If you live somewhere that has access to affordable grocery delivery, consider that as a time-saving shortcut.
4. Keep It Simple
Look for simple recipes that have overlapping ingredients. You can browse meal-prepping food blogs, which have already done the planning part for you. Besides the Internet, a good source of inspiration are the restaurants you frequent. If there’s a certain meal you like to order for lunch everyday, look up a recipe and make it yourself.
For each breakfast, lunch, and dinner, try to include a balance of protein, starches, veggies, and healthy fats. If you already have a Habit nutrition plan, use your daily food group recommendations as a guide.
Before you make a trip to the grocery store, make a list of the ingredients you need. Cross check the list against what you already have in your pantry.
5. Schedule Time in Your Calendar
Add a calendar reminder to your phone, making sure you have enough time to grocery shop and/or cook. In general, two to three hours is enough time to prep a week’s worth of meals (assuming you pick simple recipes).
When it comes time to cook, look for ways to multitask. Read through the recipes beforehand so you can figure out how to overlap them. Your oven can be a secret weapon — you can roast multiple components while you wash dishes and get the containers ready.