This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information. If not otherwise stated, all prices are intended in US$.
How many times have you started a diet just to break it after a couple of hours because you really didn’t have time to make a healthy snack?
Are you trying to save money for your dream house but at the end of the month, you saved zero? Yep, all those lunches that you buy at work add up.
You know that eating well is very important but after a long day at work, it is easier stopping at a fast-food place than cooking?
Yes, my friend, I hear you! But you know what? There is a solution to all of the above: meal prep!
I struggled to save money, as well as eating well for the longest time. Then I started meal prep and my life changed. So, I decided to write this meal prep for beginners guide to help you reach your goals!
Before starting meal prep I (obviously) researched the internet on the topic and I was overwhelmed! So many things to do, so many tools to buy and especially, who wants to waste the whole Sunday cooking? Not me!
Table of Contents
Honestly, my first attempt at meal prep failed miserably
I had no guidance, no meal planning for beginners… I went full on! I spent lots of money and wasted my time. The worst thing, my already prepared food most of the time ended up in the rubbish. You know why? Because I didn’t have a plan!
I cooked recipes that I wasn’t crazy for just because they were the perfect one for meal prep. But you know what? I didn’t like them, I didn’t eat them!
I cooked too much of the same meal and after eating it a couple of times I couldn’t eat any more of it.
I cooked too long in advance and on Saturday night what I cooked the Sunday before, didn’t taste so nice.
I didn’t take into account my going out nights or my business lunches.
I really didn’t want to spend all my Sundays in the kitchen, otherwise my weekend became a one-day weekend and I didn’t like that.
In other words, it was a disaster! But it doesn’t have to be like this.If you want to start meal prep all you need is a plan!Click To Tweet
Have a plan, and meal prep will be a lifesaver.
The pros of meal prep
If you cook for yourself you know what you’re eating. Meal prep is a great way to always have healthy food handy.
It’s absolutely the best way to follow a diet, if you have healthy food ready to go, avoiding fast food or processed snacks is so much easier.
Even if you choose the healthier option from a takeaway menu are you sure that it’s really that healthy? How much oil did they use? Which processed food did they put in to make it so tasty?
Makes your week less stressful
If you arrive home after a long day at work the last thing you want to do is cooking (at least this is what happens to me). But if you meal prep the only thing you need to do is open your fridge and voila’ your dinner is ready!
Ah! No more stops at the grocery shops between work and home. Pretty good ah?
Helps you save money
Go and look at your bank account and add up all the money that you spent last month for lunches, take away, order in and similar… yep, you could have bought that bag that you love easily!
Plus, (if you follow the steps on this meal prep guide) you won’t waste any more food.
Ok, let’s do it! Let’s take charge of your eating habits!
The many pros of meal prep!Click To Tweet
Meal prep for beginners
Follow the steps in this meal prep guide and find your own way with meal prep.
1. Set your goal
Knowing why you decided to meal prep is very important.
Do you want to lose weight? Or do you want to save money? Perhaps you want to save time or maybe what you want is just to be eating well.
Knowing your goal will help you choose the meal prep method and the recipes to use.
Bonus point: writing down your goal will help you stay motivated to continue meal prep even when the only thing you want is watching Netflix all day long.
2. Pick the best meal prep method for you
Especially at the beginning you don’t need to prep all the meals for the whole week.
There are different methods to meal prep:
Only prep the ingredients
If you’re just starting probably this is the best approach to meal prep.
Get all the ingredients that you’ll need during the week ready to be cooked.
Chopping all your vegetables, marinating what needs to be marinated, soaking the lentils and even boiling all your grains in advance will save you so much time when it comes to making dinner!
This method is perfect for those who like freshly cooked meals.
Make ahead meals
Cook your meal as you would do during the week but make all of them one day and then freeze them.
This will help you to have a less stressful week but won’t save you much time during the meal prep designated day.
This method is perfect for those who don’t like eating the same food multiple times.
This is definitely my favourite.
It consists of making multiple portions of one recipe and use the portions during the week.
If you pick a recipe that can be frozen, you can use the portions of the same recipe on different weeks. You can space them out with other meals to avoid the possibility of getting bored of from eating the same food several times.
3. Pick a day to meal prep
Usually, people use Sundays to meal prep, for example, but for me, that didn’t work.
I was feeling that my work week started one day early as I don’t really enjoy cooking.
What works best for me is Saturday morning, so once I finish, I still have all the weekend to relax.
Maybe you want to choose 2 days to meal prep. Perhaps Sunday and Wednesday so that the time that you spend in the kitchen is shorter and you can enjoy fresh meals all week long.
4. Decide which meal you want to prepare
When you first start you don’t really need to prepare all the meals for each day of the week.
Having to prepare 21 meals plus snacks all at once can be overwhelming.
So, if for example you are used to having a quick breakfast like these smoothies you don’t really need to prepare your breakfast in advance.
If you see the cooking moment as the perfect moment to spend quality time with your family and you have time in the evening, don’t prep your dinners.
Snacks are really easy to prepare and it’s what I really recommend you to have ready, especially if your goal is losing weight, as reaching for an unhealthy snack when you don’t have anything ready to eat is sooooo easy.
Anyway, you get the point. Meal prep the meals that work better for you.
5. Get the right containers
What to look for in a container:
- BPA Free
- Freezer Safe
- Dishwasher Safe
I prefer clear containers so that I can easily see what’s inside.
6. Pick the recipes
Start with something simple and something that you look forward to eating.
For example, some recipes that are really popular now are the “overnight Oats”. They’re cute, they’re healthy and they’re perfect for meal prep. But, unfortunately, I don’t like them…so I made 7 jars and I ate one…the other six ended up in the rubbish bin.
Honestly, if you like them they’re perfect for a make ahead breakfast have a look at these recipes.
Anyway, the message here is: eat (and prepare) what you like not what Pinterest tells you.Meal planning tip: prep what you like to eat not what Pinterest tells you.Click To Tweet
7. Make a shopping list
Look at the ingredients that you need, decide how many servings you want to make and go shopping. Buy only what’s on your list!
8. Break down your tasks
Don’t go grocery shopping the same day that you choose for meal prepping. It will be overwhelming and it will take too much time out of your day.
Plus, if you already have all your ingredients in your pantry you will be much more motivated to prep them.
9. Meal prep!
While doing meal prep do something else like listening to your favourite book on audible or to a good podcast.
Use some help
There are lots of products that can help you meal prep.
Using a slow cooker, a rice cooker or a food processor can significantly cut down your prep time.
Use your time wisely
Easy peasy… start with the ingredients that take longer to cook.
If you can use an ingredient in more than one recipe, prepare it all together.
To save the step of needing to wash your cutting board between tasks, cut produce that will be eaten raw first, followed by produce to be cooked.
Use your oven space to its fullest potential using multiple oven trays.
Meal prep is not your thing
If meal prep seems overwhelming to you or you just don’t want to spend your Sunday in the kitchen but you still want to be organised and save money I’ve the solution for you:
Hellofresh sends your favourite recipe with all the ingredients you need directly to your doorstep.
You can still enjoy making dinner with your family without the burden of grocery shopping.
Having a healthy and delicious meal delivered to your door will make you eat healthy.
Plus, every meal comes with an easy to follow recipe that will increase your cooking skill!
How do you save money? Each ingredient is sent to you in the right amount that you need for the recipe so no more food waste!
I hope these tips on meal prep for beginners will be useful for you, let me know if you implement any of them in the comments and if you want more tips follow us on Pinterest.