How to Meal Prep (with Tips and Tricks)

Meal prep is one of those necessary evils for me!  It takes a lot of planning on the front end, but you can reap the benefits all week long!  After many Sundays spent trying to perfect the science of meal prep, I’ve found a handful of recipes that just work better than others to stay in the refrigerator or freezer all week long, so today I’m sharing how to meal prep, along with tips and tricks (and my favorite products to use.)

How to meal prep- with tips tricks and recipesMeal prepping is how I survive the week. I don’t know what happens with my brain, but it goes blank in terms of creativity and ‘what should I make for dinner?’ by the end of the work day Monday. If I don’t have something that’s pretty much ready to go (aka meal prepped), we’ll end up having either carry out or something random – brinner for the umpteenth time. There are not a lot of carry out or delivery options around us, so meal prepping is literally one of the only things that works for me.

How to meal prep, meal prep recipes{In the above picture – vegetable frittata, shrimp cauliflower fried ‘rice’, oatmeal cookie energy bites}

One of my favorite reasons to meal prep is that it helps me stay healthier.  It really is awesome to be able to take a container of homemade food out of the fridge to take for lunch or have for dinner. Not only is it healthier (you know exactly what’s going in to the food you make and eat), but it tastes so much better than say, a frozen dinner or quick takeout.  Also, packing a lunch automatically guarantees portion control. You’re stuck at the office so you can’t go back for that second (or third) helping like you might be tempted to do at home.

Recipes for meal prepping{In the above picture: Slow cooker Greek chicken and vegetables, veggie lasagna5 ingredient flank steak and charred corn saladoatmeal cookie energy bites}

Tip #1 – Plan ahead. Planning is ESSENTIAL when it comes to meal prep.  This ensures that you don’t just go to the store and pick up random items along the way.  Well, I guess you could, but you’d waste a lot of time and likely come home frustrated when you realize you don’t have the ingredients to even make one full meal (that’s happened to the best of us, but planning really helps!)

Meal prep recipes, chicken meal prep recipes, slow cooker meal prep recipes{In the photo above: slow cooker beef and sweet potato stew and chicken stir fry soba noodle bowls
First, I look at mine and Nick’s schedule for the week.  This is an important part in planning your meals because you’ll need to know how many dinners and lunches you’ll need to prepare.  Maybe you have a lunch meeting on Wednesday and your husband has dinner plans with friends on Friday and you’re going out on a date night Saturday.  That’s three less meals to prep for that week.

meal prepping recipes, ground turkey meal prep recipes{In the above photo: turkey meatloaf and roasted vegetables and 5 ingredient salsa chicken and quinoa}

Tip # 2 – Make a menu. Once you’ve ironed out how many meals are needed, you can start looking at recipes.  A few of my favorites are:

Breakfast:

Mains (lunch & dinner)

Snacks:

In the past I’ve bought meal prep calendars (here and here are two of my favorites) but honestly, what works for me is just making a list that I tack up on my fridge that lists the meals I’m making and that I’ll have in the fridge. I feel this way doesn’t lock me into a specific day, so that if I’m feeling like a pasta dish instead of a rice dish, it doesn’t mess up my calendar.

Meal prepping recipesTip #3- Shopping for ingredients. So, this tip is all about prepping for that grocery store trip before a day of meal prep.  I like to do all of my meal prep on Sunday afternoons…which means, I need all of my groceries in the house before then.  To make sure I am prepared for the day, I spend my Saturday mornings picking recipes to make for the week.  I like this routine because it allows for me to enjoy a cup of tea/coffee and plan before the madness of the day begins. After I figure out what meals I’m making, I then make a list of all the ingredients I need.

Meal planning helps your budget, because you’re not buying unnecessary things.

Meal prep recipes, grilled chicken and yogurt sauce meal prep{In the above photo: grilled chicken and peppers, tzatziki sauce, brown rice and black beans}

Tip #4 – Cooking and storing food. The culmination of my meal prep – cooking and storing. Yes, the cooking takes a little time, but it’s oh-so-worth-it!! Then comes the ever-so-important container battle.  I’ve had so many friends talk about how annoyed they are that they just don’t have the right container to pack all of these meals in.

Meal prep recipes, turkey tacos meal prep recipe{In the photo above: ground turkey tacos, and banh mi rice bowls that I mentioned in this post}
If you’re short on space, use Ziploc bags.  Be sure to lay them flat in the freezer so they take up less space when frozen and are much easier to stack.

Here’s my #1 tip: get good Tupperware (I love this set)!

If it’s a hot dish that will need to be re-heated, pack it in a glass container (like these or these) so you don’t have to microwave in plastic (because my plastic containers always seem to get stained). Also, these glass mixing bowls with lids are awesome, I use them for cooking and storing all the time!

I’d love to know, do you meal prep? Do you have any favorite recipes or tips?

Subscribe to the Sweet Phi Newsletter

Join my mailing list to receive a free copy of my eCookbook and stay up to date with the latest on the Sweet Phi blog!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Showing 9 comments
  • Sues
    Reply

    Great tips!! I’m getting really good at meal planning, but not so great at meal prepping. As long as I have a solid plan of what I’m going to make and all the ingredients, I’ve been pretty good about actually cooking it when I get home (mosssst of the time!). Love these recipe ideas, too 🙂

    • Sweetphi
      Reply

      I’m right there with you – planning and executing are two different things lol! Before being pregnant I feel like it was never an issue to cook what I had on my plan, but now I find can only pick about 2 meals and one snack to make for the week that i’ll actually cook, more than that and I 1-get too tired cooking and give up 2-get tired of the food and don’t eat it lol. Meal planning is definitely so individual, you have to do what works for you is what I always tell people, glad to hear i’m not the only one who struggles a little sometimes 🙂

  • Marina
    Reply

    This is so great, Phi! I would say I’m a “pseudo meal planner” because right now I just cook for myself. However, after graduation I’ll be meal planning for my boyfriend and I. He specifically asked, “can we do that meal prep thing you do?” 😉 I’m sure he’ll love these tips!

    • Sweetphi
      Reply

      AW, that’s so cute that your bf said ‘can we do that meal prep thing’!! I totally get how meal planning for one is really hard/unrealistic because chances are you’ll have leftovers no matter what you’re cooking, I know i always did! 🙂 Thank you so much for reading and commenting 🙂

  • Jess
    Reply

    Genius post and incredibly helpful! I’ll be referring to this a lot! Meal prepping definitely helps me stay on track but I have yet to perfect it!

    • Sweetphi
      Reply

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post Jess! Meal prep is literally one of the only ways I can survive the week and have something to eat in my fridge lol.

  • Little Cooking Tips
    Reply

    Excellent tips Phi! We’re very similar you and I. Panos often smiles with my lists, charts and planning/scheduling:) We do count the weekday meals and check out which recipe we’ll be cooking trough the week, so on Saturday morning, we put the things we’ll need in an shopping app and off we go to the super market, the butcher and rest of the stores:)
    Great post dear. Kudos!
    xoxoxo

    • Sweetphi
      Reply

      I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one, Nick smiles at my lists too lol.
      I love that you go to a bunch of different stores, here we have one big store but I love little ones like I imagine you have.
      Have a great week
      xoxoxoxoxo
      Phi

pingbacks / trackbacks

Leave a Comment