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May 22, 2018

How to Successfully Meal Prep: 5 Simple Tips

Meal prepping is a great way to save time & money, but can be easier said than done. It does take some dedication and a chunk of time to plan out everything you will eat in the week, but it’s well worth it. Thankfully, we have pro Kara Swanson to weigh in on a few simple tips for how to successfully meal prep. Kara is the nutritionist and founder of Life Well Lived, and she’s shared some of her healthy lifestyle tips with us before, so we trust her expert advice implicitly!

Tell me if you can relate to this: It’s Thursday night, it’s been a long week, and you’re on your way home to feed your family. But the very last thing you want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen making dinner. So instead, you pull into the closest drive thru (or maybe you quickly scan your cabinets in your mind to consider the different cereal options you could serve for dinner). Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

One thing that has saved me from running to the drive thru or eating cereal for dinner is meal prepping. And I know it sometimes gets a bad rap…too difficult, food tastes horrible, and the most common excuse: I just don’t have time. But I’m going to show you that it’s actually really simple, the food is delicious, and all you need is two hours.

Meal prepping has not only helped me stay on track with my nutrition but saves me time + money. I prep once for the week and save hours because I’m not in the kitchen every day cooking something. And my family no longer wastes food because I overbought or don’t like the meal.

So if you hate having to cook each night, want to save time in the kitchen, or just simply want to make healthy meals for you and your family, I’ve got you covered.

 

1. Pick a day

Choose a day that fits in your schedule to set aside a couple of hours and prep for the week. I highly recommend that you add it to your calendar, so it’s planned and you won’t forget or skip over it. It won’t {nor should it} take the whole day…just a couple of hours. I find that Sundays work best because you’re off work and it’s a great way to prep for the upcoming week. But choose which day works for you and you’ll be more likely to stick with it.

2. Check your calendar.

An argument I hear about meal prepping is that you “waste food”. But the opposite has actually been the case…I think you waste food if 1) the meals are horrible so you don’t eat them or 2) you don’t plan accordingly and make too much food. Which is why checking your calendar before you plan out your weekly menu is really important. Do you have dinner plans Friday

night? A work lunch Tuesday? It’s important to see what you have going on so you don’t end up wasting food and time prepping for more meals than you need.

3. Use the right containers

It’s important to use the right containers to make meal prepping easier and more convenient. Plus, who wants to deal with old, cracked containers that spill in your purse or bag?! I love using these ​containers from Freshware​ because they have two compartments, are easy to take to work, and they stack nicely in the fridge for easy storing.

Big mason jars​ are my favorite for salads. They make it easy to pack in all the ingredients without getting mushy and gross. You can eat the salad out of the jar or dump in a bowl and you’ve got a yummy meal.

But whatever containers you decide to use, make sure they are BPA free, leak proof, and dishwasher safe.

4. Cook everything at once

Multitasking is a huge time saver. And will make the difference between a 2 hour prep and an all day prep. Look at your recipes and see which needs to bake the longest. Add the chicken, sweet potatoes, and veggies to the oven all at the same time. Cook your quinoa and brown rice at the same time. While those are cooking, cut up any other veggies for salads. This will speed up the process and allow a shorter time in the kitchen a.k.a. more time watching Netflix in bed {who’s with me!?!}

5. Create your weekly menu

This is the hardest step: planning what to actually eat. It’s okay to start small and prep a few meals the first couple of weeks to get in the groove of meal prepping. Choose a few of your favorite meals to cook and prep ahead of time for lunch or dinner. See how it goes and build upon that the next week by adding breakfasts to your meal prep routine.

I know this is the hardest step, I hear it from my clients all the time. So I wanted to give you a free 7-Day Inspired By This Meal Plan to help you get started. Plus, I’m giving you a Meal Prep Guide to walk you step by step on how to prep everything for the week. This will make prepping a breeze and will be a great resource to help you learn how to meal prep to save time in the kitchen. You’ll notice I included some healthier desserts too {because dessert is life}!

So pick a day, check your calendar, get your containers, cook it all at once, create your weekly menu, and enjoy the benefits of time saved in the kitchen and the peace of mind you’ll have knowing you’re serving your family (and yourself) delicious healthy options for every meal next week!

  • Noah

    These tips will make life so much easier! Thank you, Kara!

  • Christina

    SO great! meal prep saves my week!!

  • Meredith Crocker Jackson

    Great tips Kara! It all looks so yummy too!!

  • Meredith

    Love these tips! Great for a mom who has little time.

  • Carolina

    Keeping all of this in mind!

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