One of the best ways to reach your health and fitness goals is to design a meal plan that can easily be prepped ahead. Because prepping can be a daunting project, I have designed these simple meal prepping tips for beginners.
Before my days as a meal plan developer, recipe curator and meal prep video pro with Super Healthy Kids, meal prepping simply did not exist. Sure I would plan out our weekly dinners, but that was it.
By working with hundreds of busy moms there, I quickly learned that meal planning can easily flop to the way side if we aren’t taking a few steps towards simple meal prep practices.
And no, this isn’t just for us busy moms. Meal prepping can certainly help with weight loss, helping someone out who has just had a baby or even during times of confinement, such as now during COVID-19 pandemic.
How do I start meal prepping?
The first step, naturally, is to plan your meals.
Make a Shopping List:
Once you have figured out your meal plan for the week (or even a few days) check what food items you have on hand and add whats needed to your shopping list.
Head to the Grocery Store:
Put your list together then go shop! Looking to save money?
Skim through your recipes again:
Look for pastas and grains, vegetables and proteins. This will give you an idea of what should be prepped. If you can, highlight those foods on the recipe or scribble yourself a prep plan.
Prep your prepping area:
Gather the food you will prep into one area of your kitchen and be sure you have a clean slate to start with. Yes, empty the dishwasher, clear out the sinks, clear and clean the countertops.
Set up a spot for scraps:
Do you know where you are going to throw out garbage? Grab the trash can or even a large bowl you won’t need for prepping. This is a simple way to toss out any food scraps (stems, burnt items, cores) or odd pieces of garbage and food wrappings.
Gather storage containers:
Pull out your food storage containers and some type of labeling system. You can use sticky notes, labeled freezer bags, freezer tape for containers and different sized zip lock bags. Some people even attach a printed recipe card to those ingredients.
Turn on some tunes or maybe a cooking show (that’s something I love to do), grab the kids or go solo and get prepping!
Is meal prepping good for weight loss?
Ok, I’m not gonna lie, this is a pretty big question.
Everyone is different and meal prepping for weight loss should be individualized (as should all meal prep and meal plans).
Start simple busy momma!
Here is a simple prep idea for 4 dinners:
- make 2 servings of rice for 2 dinners and 2 servings of quinoa for 2 dinners
- cook 2 chicken breasts and 2 salmon fillets (personally I would plan to eat salmon for the first few meals so it’s as fresh as possible)
- roast 2 cups of cauliflower and 2 cups of broccoli for 2 dinners
- purchase 1 bag of your favorite pre-made salad
What you should now be able to do is put together 4 meals in to-go containers. NOTE: Keep your salads separate since they do not need to be heated when you reheat your rice/quinoa/chicken/salmon.
- chicken, rice, veg
- chicken, quinoa, salad
- salmon, rice, veg
- salmon, quinoa, salad
Make sense? And quite honestly, you could be super simple with the recipes used as well. Here’s how!
Easy recipe ideas for the chicken and salmon:
Pound out the chicken to an even thickness. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes, checking for doneness and cooking about 5 minutes longer if still pink.
For the salmon you could easily season the same way as the chicken and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Or, you can juice a lemon into a bowl with a teaspoon of honey, salt and pepper. Whisk these ingredients together and pour over salmon in a baking dish. Bake until the fish flakes and is no longer pink the center.
Another great option that makes life easy, is to make extras and use for lunches.
What can I prep for breakfast?
A great grab-n-go breakfast can be a meal replacement shake, muffin tin eggs or overnight oats. If you have the time, you could make pancakes or muffins to then reheat on the morning you will serve them. Just be sure to add in some fruit or even a leftover veg from the day before!
What are good foods to prep for the week?
- rice, quinoa, potatoes, whole grain pastas
- chicken, pork, beef (fish is best on the day you will serve it)
- eggs (hard boiled and cooked as egg “muffins”)
- vegetables such as peppers, onions, carrots, celery
- muffins or breads
Can you freeze your meal prep?
Short answer, YES! But of course there are better foods to freeze. Keep reading…
Cooked grains (rice, quinoa, pastas)
- Once you have cooked these foods, spread out onto a large baking sheet to cool. Store separate in sealed containers for freezing. Be sure to label what they are and the date you are freezing.
Raw, or cooked proteins
Depending on how much work you want to do on the day you’ll serve your meals will determine how you will handle proteins: fully cook or split up and store raw. If you pre-cook proteins, be sure they are cooled before packing into a sealable container before freezing or refrigerating.
I find that by splitting up, slicing and cubing raw proteins for storage can save time as well. You are essentially…pre-prepping!
Diced veggies to be cooked as opposed to serving raw
Raw veggies will naturally freeze well as long as you’re intending to cook them once thawed. After they thaw they may not be as crisp due to all the water they hold so they won’t be appetizing raw.
This is one of the simplest ways to get all your nutrients into one meal and ONE bag! This too may be stored cooked or raw, depending on how quickly you would like dinner served.
Prep all raw ingredients for crockpot meal and place in a sealable container. Label what it is and even attach the instructions to make it super simple for anyone to cook.
Prepare and cook all crockpot meals so that you will have several to choose from on various days throughout the week; especially during those overly busy weeks.
Sheet pan dinners
If you haven’t tried sheet pan dinners you are missing out! These dinners are prepared the same way as crockpot meals. The only difference is how you store them.
When roasting all ingredients separately (proteins, veggies, potatoes for example), be sure you are storing all ingredients separately.
Toss all ingredients and seasonings in one container or zip lock bag if you are going to cook the whole dinner together, on a sheet pan.
Not only do soups freeze well but they store well, too! Pour soups into large ziplocks, lie them down in the freezer. They will freeze into thin shapes and will fit anywhere in the freezer.
Yes, there are more ideas but this is a great start, especially if you are new to meal prepping.
What’s a simple meal prep for THIS week?
In this video I am prepping for three different chicken dinners: chicken Caesar salad, chicken tacos and Asian stir fry. You may be wondering if it’s OK to have three chicken dinners. My thought is that if it means you will be eating a home cooked meal and be less stressed, then YES! It is ok.
Want the recipes in this video? Grab them below by adding your email!