My guide to Meal Prep without failure!
Hey there momma! A lot of you have been asking about meal prep. What do I do? How do I do it? When do I do it? How do I grocery shop? What do I buy? Meal Prep (MP) can seem overwhelming at first, but it’s not. I promise! MP can be super easy, enjoyable and fun.
Instead of answering each of you individually, I thought I’d put ALL of my MP secrets together, right here, just for you! Think of this as your go to cheat guide ?
First and foremost, NEVER EVER write your grocery list of go grocery shopping on an empty stomach … or an overly full stomach! If you go on an empty stomach, you will crave everything in sight, especially the sweets! If you go on an over full stomach, you are doing to be nauseated by everything and most likely get half of what you need, which will lead to poor choices later in the week because there is nothing in the fridge. Don’t do that!
- Prepare yourself. In addition to the above statement, you need to plan out how many MP days you are going to have that week. For our household, we do two days – Sunday and Wednesday / Thursday. This allows us to make it through the week and the weekend. Write out exactly what you plan to make (ex: Pesto chicken with sun – dried tomatoes over spaghetti squash). This will help you make your grocery list, which you should do next. Make sure you write down everything you need. If you forget something, the chances of you skipping that meal are high. I like to make my grocery list in order of the store. I write down all of my produce together, then my meats, dairy, and so on.
- Hit the grocery store! BIG tip :: don’t forget the grocery list! Follow the order of your grocery list. If you have the next stop already in mind, it will help you avoid detours down the center aisles. I’m sure you already know this … BUT, the outer perimeter of the grocery store is when you want to shop. This is where all of your fresh produce, meats, and dairy will be. The center aisle’s are filled with processed foods.
- Buy in bulk when you can. Feeding six people requires us to buy bulk. So we hit Costco for some great finds … eggs, milk, fruit, meats, coconut oil, raw honey, natural peanut butter, steel cut oats, COFFEE!!!, and storage containers when needed. Another good place where you don’t need a membership is Gordon Food Services. Although the food selection is much smaller than Costco, they do often have good pricing and their storage container section is bigger. T. J. Maxx and T. J. Maxx Homegoods have a good selection of storage products as well … and they often have food products on sale!
- Storage containers. This may seem lame, but it is super important. Make sure you get the right containers for what you are prepping. If I am prepping a meat and a veggie, I like to container with two sides to separate each food. If I prepped a meal, such as Coconut Shrimp Curry or Over Night Crock Pot Oatmeal, I only need a “single” container. I also make sure to have a container for any sauce that goes on top of a meal. BIG TIP:: Make sure whatever container you get is microwaveable! It makes it much easier to pop and lid and stick it in the microwave than to find a microwave safe dish and still have to heat your meal.
- Unpack and group! Unpack all of your bags, that includes unbagging your produce and meats. I line up my recipes and group all of my ingredients together for EACH meal. If I am cooking Pesto Chicken with Sun – Dried Tomatoes over Spaghetti Squash, I am going to group all of that together and put it aside. Repeat this for each meal you plan to make. It will make it a lot easier to cook if you have everything right in front of you. You may not be making a specific meal, which is totally fine!
- Have your storage container lined up and ready to go. You already know how many portions each recipe makes, or at least you should! Get out the containers you need (see above!) and put them with each recipe. Chances are you’ll be cooking multiple items for multiple recipes. Once your food is cooked, put it right into the container.
- Prep all of your meat and veggies. If your recipe calls for a specific marinade or seasoning, get it ready, and let your meat and veggies sit in it for a bit before cooking. This will help them to absorb more flavor! For my meats I like to cut “slits” in them. If I am using a dry seasoning, I rub it on the meat and make sure to get some into the “slits” as well. If it is a liquid marinade, I put the meat in a bowl with a tight light and shake it up, making sure all of the meat is coated. If you are making more than one kind of meat, make a three – way pan, similar to what is in the picture. Now you have two or three different meals!
- Crock pot that shit! We have two crockpots … a 3 qt and a 5 qt and we use them both .. A LOT! It’s such an easy way to prep meals … stews, pulled pork / chicken, oatmeal, etc. I’ll share some of my favorites crock pot meals in a later post!.
Some additional tips::
- Plan, Plan, Plan! Whether you plan to meal prep one, two or three days per week, get all of your recipes together at one time. This will get you set up for the week and help to eliminate any failure!Use a calendar if you want to! Monday – Wednesday I plan to eat A, B, C. Thursday – Sunday I play to eat X, Y, Z. If you are getting a recipe offline, print it out and keep it with your calendar. At the beginning of each week, write your grocery list for EACH day you plan to meal prep so it’s ready to go when you are!
- Don’t forget to plan for snacks. This is SUPER important. You had a delicious home-made meal two hours ago but you’re hungry again. Now what? You snack on whatever is the closest, quickest food in sight, right? See #1! Plan ahead. One of my favorite snacks is spicy raw nuts. A little bit of chili powder and paprika, maybe some cayenne pepper… delicious and satisfying. BIG TIP:: measure out your snack portion (if you are prepping something) and have it is a ziplock baggy ready to go.
- Support. This is key when successfully meal prepping. It can come from a friend, significant other, family member… whoever! I am much more successful and find it easier to stay on track through out the week when my husband is on board with me. I try to make meals that he and I both like and will eat. A support system will also help hold you accountable!
- K.I.S.S! Seriously! Failure often happens when we over think things. MP is so easy to do. So put on some of your favorite music, get your grocery list together and get to it!
Remember, keep your MP simple! Not every meal has to look like a culinary piece of meal art like you see on Instagram. More often than not, our meals consist of a protein and a veggie or carb. For example, my favorite chicken (hyperlink) with roasted broccoli or cauliflower. Some times I make organic (only if it’s cheaper that week!) long grain brown rice and add a half cup to my meal. These are MP tips that work for me and help to keep my weeks successful and on track! I would love to hear what other MP tips and tricks you have and use ?