I have been meal prepping for a few years now and it really helps me get out the door in the morning and stay somewhat on track with food throughout the day. I have had some friends and family members tell me that they don’t think they could meal prep because it takes too much time and seems really complicated. I’m here to tell you that it is not complicated and it doesn’t have to take all day. I’m not an expert, but I have found some time-saving tricks over the years and I’m going to share them with you!
Make a Plan
First, decide what you are going to prep for the week. This will allow you to make a plan and you can make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand. I’m old fashioned and I like to write my meal plan out on paper so I can make my grocery list at the same time. It helps if you have a cute notebook from a friend to write in 🙂 Thanks Kaitlyn!
I typically plan and prep breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the work week. I plan out dinners as well but I don’t prep them in advance.
Prep Multiple Items at the Same Time
For breakfast this week I am having hard boiled eggs, pancakes, and fruit. This may sound like a complicated meal prep, but I promise it’s not. Probably about a year ago, I started making hard “boiled” eggs in the oven. This is the first thing I get going when I meal prep. I don’t remember exactly where I found the instructions, but I know it was somewhere on Pinterest. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Then put the eggs in a muffin tin (I make 10, two for each day of the week) and when the oven is heated, place the muffin tin in the oven for 30 minutes.
When the eggs are done, take them out of the oven and immediately place them in a big bowl with ice cold water. While my eggs are cooking, I wash and cut my fruit for the week. This week I am having strawberries. (Cleanup tip: I use the same bowl I wash fruit in for the egg ice bath. Less dishes is a win in my book).
You could also prep any other fruit or vegetables you are planning to have for snacks during this time. Once that’s done, I make my pancake batter. I’m currently using a banana oat pancake recipe from the Fixate cookbook. It’s a super easy recipe because you combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend away. Then cook them as you would normal pancakes. I am not always able to finish a full batch of pancakes before the eggs come out of the oven, but since they need to sit in an ice bath for a little bit, that works out perfectly. I finish my pancakes while the eggs cool down. After my pancakes are done and the eggs are cooled, I peel them and bag them. So, within 45 minutes or so, I have prepped 5 breakfasts for the work week!
Break Meal Prep Up Into Multiple Days If Short On Time
Next I typically move onto prepping lunch and snacks. Sometimes I do this the same day I prep breakfast or some days I do it the next day, it just depends on what I have going on that weekend. If we have a lot of plans, I’ll break it up into 2 days.
This week I’ve decided to have chicken salad stuffed avocados with a side salad for lunch and roasted carrots for one of my snacks. I am following the same process I did with my breakfast meal prep above. Since the carrots need to roast in the oven, I am going to start those first so I can make my lunches while they cook. I have been making THIS roasted carrot recipe lately and it is so good. Once the carrots go into the oven, I’ll start on the chicken salad portion of my lunch. I’m making a Southwest style chicken salad this week and I just eyeball all of the ingredients and mix them in a bowl. It takes about 5 minutes. I’ll portion those out into containers and move onto prepping the side salad and dressing. I use a store bought salad mix but I do like to make my own dressing. It sounds complicated, but I promise it’s not. It only requires a few ingredients and doesn’t take much time. I portion out the dressing and lettuce into containers and they are ready to go for the week.
By the time the carrots are done roasting, I have prepared my lunches for the week and once the carrots cool, I will portion them out for snacks for the week.
Take Advantage of Store Bought Snacks
Another great snack idea is Greek yogurt cups (or any yogurt cup really). You can buy them at the store, slip them in your lunchbox, and it’s an awesome snack with no effort. I will also buy pre-washed and cut fruits and vegetables sometimes for snacks. This week I bought pineapple that was already cut up and ready to go. It saved me time and it also saved me from cutting up the pineapple myself. I have had a few knife accidents in the kitchen over the years so this was a win-win.
I hope this has made meal prepping seem less intimidating and totally do-able, because it is! It took me a total of two hours (over the course of two days) to prep all of my food for the work week. Depending on what you decide to prep, it may take even less time. It saves so much time in the long run and it takes me about two minutes every morning to put my lunchbox together because everything is ready to go!
To Recap My Meal Prep Process:
- Plan what you are going to prep. Make sure you have all the ingredients on hand.
- Start baked/roasted meal prep items first
- While they are baking, prepare other items
- By the time the items in the oven are done, you are hopefully finished with all of your meal prep!