What is Meal Prep?
Mal prepping is exactly that - prepping your meals (or parts of) ahead of time. It can be as involved as cutting up veggies to have for snacks and recipes, to preparing a bunch of meals and portioning them out throughout the week.
How Do You Meal Prep?
Meal prepping can be super easy or really involved, all depending on your preference. The basics of meal prepping are to prep ahead meals so you just have to grab and go.
In the past, my meal prep schedule would look like spending Sundays making up and packaging lunches for the week (this quinoa salad is my usual go to lunch), and prepping batches of overnight oats for breakfasts, and then cutting up veggies for different recipes throughout the week.
Now that I've been working from home, I still prep overnight oats but instead of portioning out my lunches, I usually just leave my quinoa salads in a big bowl and portion it out throughout the week.
How Long Does Meal Prepping Take?
Meal prepping can be as quick as 10 minutes or up to a few hours - it all depends on how much you want to prep. When I first began I would spend about an hour on the weekends and chop up veggies, fruits, and prep breakfasts like hard boiled eggs or overnight oats. As time went on and I got more comfortable with meal prepping, I started adding on cooking full meals and portioning it out. Now it takes about an hour to cook a week's worth of meals!
Benefits of Meal Prepping
There are a lot of benefits to meal prepping! A few that I've noticed since I started:
- Helps you stay on track with your health and fitness goals by making sure you have healthy food options always on hand. It's so nice to be able to just grab a healthy lunch and not have to think about it (it also helps fight temptations)
- Save money by planning meals that use similar ingredients
- Save time by doing all the chopping, dicing and cutting at the same time so when it comes time to cook the recipe the prep part is already done!
The Best Meal Prep Containers
I'm a little late to the mason jar party but since I got my first batch I've been hooked on using these for meal prepping! They're durable, dishwasher safe and don't take up too much space in my refrigerator (and dare I say they actually look pretty neat and organized in there?!).
I like to use this reusable chalk labeling system to keep my fridge organize and mark dates on when I prepped the food - there's nothing worse than finding an old lunch that got stuck in the back of the fridge!
Bayco Glass Meal Prep Containers
Bayco glass meal prep containers are a great reusable meal prep container that is styled like a bento box where it has 3 different compartments. They take up a little more fridge space than the mason jars do, but they are still neat and organized. I also like that these are glass and microwave safe, as well as BPA free.
Top Kitchen Tools for Meal Prep
My all time favorite meal prep tool is the Prepdeck (you can read my review here). I love that it's an all in one tool that has everything you need - containers, kitchen tools, measuring cups, cutting board all in one place.
Plus it folds up really neatly in a pretty design and doesn't take up a ton of space on your counter.
I also love my Instant Pot. I use it to make quick dinners like Instant Pot Street Tacos and quinoa, as well as meal prep staples like hard boiled eggs and rice.
Easy Healthy Meal Prep Recipes
Here are a few of my favorite recipes to meal prep:
- Blueberry Overnight Oats
- Pineapple Coconut Muffins
- Banana Bread Overnight Oats
- Yogurt Parfait Granola Cups
- Sheet Pan Pancakes
- Southwest Quinoa Salad
- Black Bean Burgers
- Chicken Taco "Cupcakes"
- Bean and Rice Burritos
- Vegan Pasta Salad with Chickpeas
- Vegan Shepherd's Pie
- Sheet Pan Meatloaf with Roasted Veggies
- Turkey Chili Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Street Tacos
Kid Friendly Meal Prep Meals
Best Apps for Meal Planning
I like to use a few apps to help keep me organized with my weekly menu, grocery lists and recipe collection. Here are a few of my favorites:
Plan to Eat
This is my all time favorite app! The Plan to Eat app has the ability to import recipes from any website or blog, and then creates it into a neat and organized recipe card that you can access from your phone or computer.
When you're planning your week you just drag in the recipes into the calendar, adjust how many servings you want and then it'll create a grocery list with exactly what you need. When it's time to cook just select "start cooking" and the recipe card will transform into an easy to follow cooking guide - like the ones you get in the meal delivery kits!
Once a Month Meals
This is the ultimate no work required meal plan! Once a Month Meals has a huge selection of pre-made meal plans that fit into any diet imaginable. From Vegan Instant Pot meals to Keto Slow Cooker Plans, there is something here for everyone. The name Once a Month Meal comes from them specializing in freezer meal plans where you prep a month's worth of meals in about an hour.
Once you select the meal plan (and you can edit them if there's a recipe you don't like), the website will create a custom guide you can print out that has all the instructions, grocery list, guide to when to prep, and sticker labels to mark the food with instructions on how to reheat.
While they have month long freezer plans available, Once a Month Meals also has regular weekly meal plans. You can check out all the meal plans they have available here!