If you’ve never meal prepped before, now is your chance, friends. With most of us stuck at home surrounded by snacks and a fridge just a few feet away, keeping an eating schedule is harder than ever. But by learning how to meal prep, you can easily eat healthy—or at least consistently—all week long. After all, you probably have the time right now, so why not? And while no one should be forced to be or feel productive while social distancing, meal prepping is one way to accomplish something that’s actually a useful skill you can use throughout your entire life. So go ahead and put down the bag of white cheddar popcorn (Yes, guilty.), banish everyone from the kitchen and get to work.
As someone who works from home year-round, I understand how easy it is to just wander into the kitchen and grab 10 snacks at a time. So, while many people think meal prep is only necessary for those who leave their homes and go to an office every day, that’s just not the case. Meal prepping is helpful wherever you are. And not only does it keep you on a schedule—instead of just eating whatever is in sight all the time—but it actually makes life so much easier. Whether you meal prep breakfast, lunch, dinner or all three, making meals beforehand saves time later on. That’s more time eating and less time cooking, folks.
If you’re hesitant about getting started, we made an easy seven-step guide to begin meal prepping. Learning how to meal prep isn’t difficult, so chefs of all skillsets can lean in and make meals that are right for them. Go ahead and fire up that recipe Pinterest board, because it’s time to prep some meals.
1. First Things First
While it’s tempting to just dive right into finding recipes and cooking, the first step to meal prep is figuring out what, exactly, you need. Are you someone who makes a full breakfast every morning and therefore only wants to prep lunch and dinner? Do you cook with your family each night, so you only need a prepped lunch? Ask yourself which meals you actually need to prep first before moving on. Once you know what your priorities are, everything else becomes much easier.
2. Plan That Schedule (& Try to Keep It!)
Maybe you only want to meal prep for the weekdays, or maybe you want meals made for all seven days of the week. Either way, you need to know your typical eating schedule so you can make sure you make enough food for all the days you’ll be eating the meals you prepped. These steps seem tedious, sure, but ultimately they’ll save you so much hassle.
3. Choose Some Mouthwatering Recipes
Here’s where things get a little more fun. Going through and choosing the meal prep recipes you want to make for the week is arguably the best part of meal prepping. Start a Pinterest board, print out recipes, explore food blogs—Find what sounds delicious to you.
4. Make an Organized Grocery List
Whether you always get your groceries delivered or decide to brave the store, you’ll want to make sure you have the exact list of everything you need. Try not to wing it. Just go through each recipe and write down what ingredients you don’t already have in the house. It’s a small step, but an important one.
5. Stock Up on (Cute) Containers
Before you start cooking, make sure you have enough storage containers in which to put your meals. While this might seem like a no-brainer, there have been many times when I finished cooking a big batch meal and realized I didn’t have enough containers for everything. Of course, everything is more fun when it’s cute, so treat yourself to reusable containers that spark some joy in you (and make for a great fridge photo).
6. Set Aside Time to Cook Everything
It doesn’t matter when during the week you choose to meal prep, as long as you set aside some time to get shit done. Put on some music, wear your comfiest clothes and banish everyone else from the kitchen. This is your time, baby.
7. This Might Go Without Saying, but Eat Your Dang Meals
Yes, getting take-out a few times a week is tempting, but if you’ve actually made meals already, it’s a little bit easier to stick to eating at home. Don’t let all the delicious and healthy food you made go to waste! You’ll be proud of yourself for sticking to a schedule—not to mention how much cash you’ll probably save.