Meals, meal-prep, ideas, time, family time, food, preparation, storage, match and mix, freeze, days, advance, plan, stock, recipes
Foods,  Guidance,  Research,  Support,  Wellness

A Beginners Guide to Getting Started on Meal-Prep

Let’s be honest, we all look for the best ways to eat healthily every day and the big winner will always be home-cooked food. The biggest obstacle in doing this,  though, is that we live busy lives and most of the time we do not have enough time to prepare and cook food at home. It is time to change that with meal-prep! If you are interested in learning how to save time in the kitchen, being able to make healthy or even healthier meals or simply enjoying relaxed weekly mealtimes, you need to try meal-prepping!

What is meal-prep and why it is useful?

Meal prepping is the act of making time on 1 or 2 specific days of the week to prepare meals or batch-cook ingredients in advance to ensure you eat healthier foods more often, and make feeding yourself and your family easier each day.

  • It saves you time throughout the week because it helps you feel more in control of what you and your family are eating and how you are spending your time. It increases the ease of making the right choices!
  • It makes it possible to have prepared meals on the ready while only cooking once or twice a week. It is a stress-reducer!
  • It eliminates those dreaded moments of standing in front of the pantry and the fridge wondering what to make for dinner. It incorporates meal planning, which is a time saver!
  • It also comes with a big bonus: it saves you money that you can then spend on an activity you can do in  your free time – grocery shopping is much cheaper than getting meals delivered!
  • You do not have to eat the same thing over and over again. By preparing five to ten different foods in bulk, you can easily mix and match meals that can last you for a week, depending on your schedule. It helps you be flexible and creative!
Determine the best prep method for you
  • Ready-to-cook ingredients: if you prefer to cook meals right before serving, prepping ingredients cuts down on kitchen time.
  • Batch cooking/freezing: preparing multiple batches of a recipe to be portioned out and frozen for meals in the weeks to come.
  • Mix-and-Match whole foods: prepare a few components that can be turned into a variety of meals during the week. This approach gives you flexibility and is a great option when you do not enjoy repeating  meals.
  • Make-ahead meals: cooking complete meals in advance to be reheated at mealtimes.
  • Individually portioned meals: prepare foods and portion them into individual servings.

Choose what works best for you and it will make it easier for you to eat well during the week. You can combine the different techniques to make your meals more varied!

Meals, meal-prep, ideas, time, family time, food, preparation, storage, match and mix, freeze, days, advance, plan, stock, recipes


Make a plan:

Choose meals  to prepare depending on your needs:

  • Do you want to feel more in control?
  • Do you want to eat healthily and with more freedom?
  • Do you want to save money?
  • Do you want to get dinner on the table as fast as possible?
  • Are you preparing for a family, a single person or two people?

The idea is to plan out your weekly meal-prep either for breakfast, lunch or dinner as a starter. This  helps you organize how many meals you are going to prepare and how they fit into your weekly schedule.

Pick your biggest priority or need and focus on it

Write down your menu

Try to rely on some tried recipes that you have cooked before and throw in 1 or 2 new ones.  Build your meals around seasonal produce, basic food groups, and how you want to balance them. Focus on simple meals. Plan ahead how you are going to eat the food from your meal prep session based on your schedule of the week.

Follow these simple details to pick the best recipes for your needs

  • It requires prep work before cooking: recipes that call for chopping, slicing, and dicing make great candidates.
  • It is easy to scale up or down: big-batch recipes are an advantage for meal prep.
  • It has a distinct make-ahead moment: stick with recipes that can be partially or fully made in advance.
  • It will keep well in the fridge or freezer: it is essential it can last  for at least a few days.
  • It reheats well: if it makes tasty leftovers, it is a fantastic choice.

*You can also write out theme days, which is a fantastic way to come up with ideas and be able to repeat the successful ones.

*Write down the ingredients that you need beside the menu to make up your shopping list. Google Calendar is a great way to help you organize the whole process and keep track of what happens every single day. You have it on your computer, phone, iPad, everywhere, and it even comes with notifications!

Meals, meal-prep, ideas, time, family time, food, preparation, storage, match and mix, freeze, days, advance, plan, stock, recipes


Schedule your prep

Sunday and Wednesday seem to be the chosen days for more experienced meal preppers to cook and prepare meals ahead for the week. It is also a good idea to split the meal-prepping into two days because in the beginning it is recommendable to start off by preparing no more than three meals in a row. The meal-prep day or days can fluctuate from week to week.

The key is finding the day/days that is/are easiest to block off a chunk of time for meal-prep.  

I recommend blocking off at least 30 minutes of your time, with 1 to 2 hours being the sweet spot.

Meals, meal-prep, ideas, time, family time, food, preparation, storage, match and mix, freeze, days, advance, plan, stock, recipes

Use proper storage containers

Containers that are airtight with divided sections, and clear and similar-sized containers are the optimal choice because they make for better, fresher, crispier tasting meals. They should be BPA free, freezer safe, dishwasher safe, stackable and reusable.

Here are three options:

Meals, meal-prep, ideas, time, family time, food, preparation, storage, match and mix, freeze, days, advance, plan, stock, recipes


Take stock and shop

Before rushing to the grocery store, take inventory of your kitchen. A great way to simplify meal prepping is to see what you usually use for cooking and then to stock your pantry with a variety of reliable goods.

Next, build a flexible  shopping list with possible add-ons  and keep a running inventory of foods you frequently use during weekly prep. You can add new items on the go to make your meals more varied  on certain occasions. Make sure to check the kind of ingredients they use for preservation and what the expiry date is.

Also, buy fresh groceries that you are going to use in the next 4-6 days. This way you eat food that still provides you with the necessary vitamins, minerals and enzymes to stay healthy. By doing this you also avoid having to throw away food unnecessarily.

Meals, meal-prep, ideas, time, family time, food, preparation, storage, match and mix, freeze, days, advance, plan, stock, recipes


Make a plan of action for your cooking time

Write down an ordered list of exactly what it is you plan to accomplish. This helps you identify which foods take the longest to cook and the ingredients you will need. If two recipes call for the same ingredient, prep it for both dishes at the same time  and then divide it to use as needed.

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. Always remember to use a clean cutting board and utensils after preparing raw proteins. Mainly, a plan of action keeps you organized and minimizes your time in the kitchen.

Make the most of your time: learn to multitask

Remember that you can cook lots of different things at the same time. There is also no right or wrong answer about just how much time you should block off. It is a good idea though, to set aside a specific amount of time so your attention can be totally focused on your prep session.

Start with a clean stove, sink, kitchen utensils and cutting board. Then, set out your clean containers, turn on some great music or a podcast, and get to work!

Meals, meal-prep, ideas, time, family time, food, preparation, storage, match and mix, freeze, days, advance, plan, stock, recipes


Be mindful of shelf life

Cut vegetables will keep for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator if stored in airtight containers. Berries, starchier vegetables, and tubers will keep for at least 4-5 days. Lettuce, fresh herbs and greens that have been washed with water and vinegar, dried and kept in the refrigerator can stay fresh for up to a week. Cooked vegetables, grains and dishes containing animal products should be consumed within 3 to 4 days. Be sure to reheat these to 75°C when ready to serve.

Freeze properly for best quality

Foods like soups, cooked grains and legumes and casseroles are easily frozen for future meals. For soups and cooked grains, cool to room temperature (within 2 hours) and store in BPA free plastic containers. Leave some space at the top of containers for food to expand as it freezes. Label and date containers, and set reminders to consume frozen foods within 3 to 6 months. Be sure to reheat to a cooking temperature of 75°C when ready to serve.

Meals, meal-prep, ideas, time, family time, food, preparation, storage, match and mix, freeze, days, advance, plan, stock, recipes


The best way to develop a meal prep strategy that meets your needs is by simply doing it and then learning as you go.

Meal prepping can be one of the easiest ways for you to move towards a healthier lifestyle. Having already prepared all these nutrient-packed, varied, , natural, whole ingredients or meals that are in your refrigerator will enable you to eat more nourishing meals , and keep your mental and emotional states  on a calmer and more relaxed level: you have magnificent time management and more free time to spend however you wish. Keeping meals planned, scheduled and organized allows you to concentrate on other important things in your life and dedicate the “daily kitchen time” to different activities you want to do, which can even mean spending more time with your loved ones at the table. It is uncomplicated, you are not going to cook every day, and it is totally flexible!

Like all of you, I am a unique individual with particular needs that I have learned to listen to and that I have really acknowledged over the last 8 years. I’ve learned to focus on my energy levels, to observe my body’s reactions to food, situations and emotions, and to respond to them accordingly. I have learned to put myself beyond everything and to get to know myself for who I am, Tatiana. It has been a very constructive and arduous journey and one that has taught me to be patient and to give each change or modification time to take effect. This brief introduction is to tell you why I developed a deep interest in holistic nutrition due to many circumstances in my life.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.