How to Meal Prep

I am asked all the time why do you meal prep? How do you do it?

Meal preps save you a bunch of time and prevent you from eating bad throughout the week. If everything is already made and pre-portioned, you are less likely to binge and more likely to grab that tupperware full of healthy goodies :)

So how do I meal prep? Well for my schedule I prep through dinner time for 4 days a week (the days I work). Dinner I like to come home and cook and make something fresh (sometimes new blog recipes) but if that’s not for you then certainly cook your dinner meals as well for the prep! Same goes for weekends, I’d rather make fresh and I have been doing this for such a long time now I know I will not cheat. I have strong will power. If you think you are going to flake on the weekends definitely prep! They say “fail to prep, prepare to fail” The only thing with this is that you might have to prep 2 times a week to prevent the food from going bad.

Tips for meal preps:

  • Come up with a plan. I make a list of everything I am going to make.
  • Invest in GOOD tupperware. I bought mine from BJs. You can often get 18-20 piece sets for cheap. Make sure you buy a heavy duty tupperware that doesn’t crack after a couple uses. 
  • Purchase a food scale. Portion is everything and I never realized how off I was with portion sizes until I bought one. I recommend the electronic scales because they are easy to zero out and you can just put the tupperware on top of it and measure. I bought mine for $35 at Target but you can find them as cheap as $15 on Amazon.
  • Use measuring cups. Again when I eye balled portions I was usually off.
  • Make an assembly line. Try to cook everything at once by using stove top and the oven to make your life easier and decrease prep time.
  • Eat with your eyes. I like to make veggie medleys with bright colors and variety so you are not stuck with the same boring lunches.
  • Make foods that will keep. Chicken breast and turkey meat are good for meal preps. If you cook seafood, make sure you eat it the first day or two or it will go bad!
  • Keep it simple. You don’t need to make lavish meals for meal preps. That’s what I leave dinner for. Just pop in your proteins with spices, veggies, and grains and it’ll leave you satisfying with much less prep time!

First I start with my list. I break it down into breakfasts, lunches with proteins, veggies, and grains/starches, then my snacks.

Meal prep list

Meal prep list

Next I line up all my tupperware so I can do the assembly line trick

Tupperware ready to go!

Tupperware ready to go!

Now time to get cooking. Usually I cook my grains, proteins, and veggies at the same time. Grains on stove top of course :)

Quinoa blend cooking

Quinoa blend cooking

Cook time will vary depending on the grain. I bring my water to a boil first, pour in the grain and let it boil for one minute. Then I bring down to a simmer and cover for the remainder of the time.

While this is going I grab all the veggies I want to make.

onions, squash, peppers, turnips

onions, squash, peppers, turnips, asparagus

Medleys are easier because you can chop all your veggies and throw them in the oven. I spray a little extra virgin olive oil spray on a huge baking sheet, sprinkle with some Ms. Dash (my favorite for veggies is the Garlic and herb flavor) and cook on 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or so.

Yummy veggies, so healthy

Yummy veggies, so healthy. Also threw on some peas and corn

I will also pop in my proteins too. Chicken breast I line tinfoil down first with olive oil spray

Chicken breast prep

Chicken breast prep with pepper

Shrimp takes less time of course. I like these pre cooked shrimp with the tails that pop off. Even though they are already cooked, I like to cook them in the oven for a little bit to get all of the water out.

Fiesta Lime seasoning on top

Fiesta Lime seasoning on top

While all this is cooking I get to work on my breakfasts and snacks. Oatmeal is a favorite breakfast of mine. I do “overnight oats” which is just your serving of oatmeal soaked in unsweetened almond milk overnight in the fridge. I reheat in the mornings when I’m ready to eat.

overnight oats

overnight oats

Snacks take no effort. It’s just putting things in little bags. The peanut butter I do portion.

1-2 Tablespoons!

1-2 Tablespoons!

Sometimes I will make sweet potatoes instead of a grain so after washing them I wrap them in cling wrap and pop in the microwave for 3-5 minutes depending on size. Sweet potatoes are mushy anyway, so it doesn’t matter if they are cooked in the oven. Another thing you can do while waiting for everything to cook.

Sweet potatoes wrapped

Sweet potatoes wrapped

One at a time things will come together nicely. Grain is done, so I start portioning.

Measuring cups will save your life and your waistline!

Measuring cups will save your life and your waistline!

Grains and taters

Grains and taters

Then when my proteins are done, I measure them on the food scale. I measure all proteins COOKED. Frozen foods hold water, you want to make sure you are getting the proper amount. I typically will do 4-6 ounces of protein. 3 ounces for shrimp.

3 ounces is a good amount huh!?

3 ounces is a good amount huh!?

In it goes!

Proteins with grains

Proteins with grains

Then the veggies

Complete lunches :)

Complete lunches :)

Here will be your finished product with all your snacks- MY FAVORITE? Why a Quest Bar of course! You can buy them below :) Cheaper online folks!


Try Quest Protein Bars!

 

Sunday meal prep in full force.

Sunday meal prep in full force.

This takes me anywhere from 1-2 hours. It seems like a long time but really it’s not. So much easier than having to make your lunches every single day! Get it done in one batch and save some time :)

Hope this helped you guys. Enjoy. Fail to prep, prepare to fail!

XOXO With a Cherry On Top,

-Minnie

Comments

  1. Love this! Thanks for laying out your steps for meal prep. I need to make an assembly line to make things easier for myself :)

  2. Thank you Katie :) This is really helpful, I had no idea you could cook sweet potato like this! I normally oven cook mine for about an hour…not anymore!
    Do all of your proteins stay good for 4 days? I make my lunches 2 days in advance because I worry the chicken will go off. You’re looking great btw, looking forward to keeping track of your journey the next 12 weeks! X

  3. I had NO idea sweet potatoes could be made so easily!!! I’ve never seen a food blog lay out each step of the process, and I really enjoyed that. I’m going to do this my next day off!!!

    • Yeah I like doing it this way because when I started cooking I would just read the recipes and go ‘wait is this how it’s supposed to look!?’

  4. Where do you get your recipes? I love the no salt Mrs. Dash as well…

    Thanks

  5. AbraKaTABRA says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for the helpful tips! Trying to plan and prepare meals for the week for two and having trouble getting started. I’m not much a cook and I don’t enjoy it especially everyday but I do want to start making healthy, clean meals. So tired of eating out. This post definitely helps. However, do you mind maybe posting some tips on preparing for two people for 5 days or just sharing some advice.
    Thanks!

    • Assembly lines! Especially if you are cooking for two, get that person in there to help you out! I cook for one and it would cut down on my time SO much if someone helped out. For instance I cook everything, he or she measures it all out and puts it in the tupperware. Or even just peeling eggs would help me out immensely. Time savers. It’s easier to cook in bulk too, so just double up on everything. Make it fun too. Set aside the time, put on some music and enjoy the company of the other person. When you are done reward yourself with something fun to do :)

      • I’ve done the assembly line. It does help so much. My only problem is portion sizes. How do you know what’s considered a portion?

        • I have a food scale. Usually with proteins I do 4-6 ounces. Sweet potatoes- 4 ounces, veggies I pile up (no harm here!), rice/quinoa/freekah/other grains- anywhere from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup.

  6. Do you eat them cold or reheat?

  7. Wow, this is the first “meal prep” sort of post that doesn’t make it overwhelming! Thank you for sharing!

  8. do you ever have issues with them going bad before the week is over?

    • Nope! I prep 4 days worth (I do 4 work shifts). I do it late Sunday night and it goes through Thursday. Only thing is if I cook fish I make sure I eat that one the next day, never do 4 days worth of fish it won’t make it to Thursday!

  9. Great stuff! Do you sweeten your oatmeal or spruce it up in any way with walnuts or fruit?

    • I do a couple things depending on my mood and other things I plan on eating that day. If I need to get in my fats, I will just add 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter. I don’t add anything else.

      If I want fruit with it I will add berries like raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc. And a little stevia to sweeten.

      If I’m eating it without anything I do stevia and cinnamon!

      My favorite way recently is with PB! :) NOM!

  10. Hi im not sure how i came across your site when i typed how to meal prep for the week… BUt im glad i did! I had a few questions and was wondering if i could contact you and you could hopefully guide me on this? Thanks!

  11. Hi, I followed your meal plans on Sunday and made my lunches for this week, tweaking them a little bit for preference. My question is how do you keep the food fresh? My veggies are all mushy and gross and the sweet potatoes are beginning to brown. I feel like I just wasted a bunch of food :( Any tips?

    • Try blanching your veggies instead of cooking them all the way through, that way when you heat them up they will not be as mushy! I’m usually good for four days, anything over 4 I won’t meal prep.

  12. Ok, GREAT ARTICLE BTW!!! Question,do u freeze the meals? Do u store them immediately or allow them to cool? What about salad, and can they be frozen as well? And What other recipes do u have for breakfast?

    • If you check my recipes tab under food, you can find breakfast stuff there. I do not freeze my meals. I make for 4 days the night before I start my work week. I usually let them cool some on the counter (most of the time it’s already cooled since I am working in shifts cooking a lot at once). Then refrigerate. You could freeze your meals though. I have done this with travel and it worked out fine!

  13. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my
    own weblog and was curious what all is needed to get set up?
    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% positive.

    Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Kudos

    • My DESIGN costs money, but anyone can blog for FREE or cheap. I wanted a dot com so I bought mine, but if you want to start slower there are tumblr blogs or wordpress.org blogs. When I started I literally googled “how to start a blog”. There is a lot of good information out there! Good luck :)

  14. Christine says:

    How long do you cook the shrimp for to get the water out and at what temperature? :)

  15. Katie, I am wondering if you have some advice for me. I just started meal prepping this week and when I went to the grocery store I spend a good amount of money on what it looks like was only a weeks worth. (I meal prep all 5 meals) My main ones are of course lunch and dinner. Well my husband tells me now that he would like to start eating the same meals as me to get healthy. How can I meal prep and better myself, make him happy and still not spend a fortune? Looking forward to your response

    • I have a similar problem. It can definitely be expensive. Try frozen fruits and veggies to save a few bucks. For items you know you are going to go through, buy in bulk. I often buy my meats from BJs and just freeze. Coupon clipping is good too of course, but produce is tricky with this. Local farmers markets are usually a little cheaper with fresh veggies. I also always buy generic brands (or Safeway brand) for my cottage cheese and things like that! Also for certain items like protein powders. PB2 powders, etc. I buy on amazon with Prime (free shipping). It;s way cheaper than stores! You’d be surprised at items you can find on amazon that you normally buy in a health food or grocery store.

  16. How many meals a day do you eat?

  17. Hi! This is so amazing and has helped so much! But does this meal prep only last 2 days?

  18. ilenia mannino says:

    If you’re on the run or at work, do you just heat it up or do you just eat it cold?

  19. christina says:

    I am just starting my journey to meal prep, specifically to lose weight. I can never figure out how much of each food to put into each tupperware. I saw you use 4-6 ounces of protein and 3 ounces of shrimp. How much grains and veggies do you place? Is it different person to person?

    Thanks!

  20. do you prep for dinner too? Also is this a two day prep?

  21. Thank you so much for writing this! I stumbled upon your blog from Pinterest and it is exactly what I’m looking for. =)

  22. Great article! Just a quick question how long roughly would you say to reheat the meals? Starting now to prep meals and unsure about time scale.

    Thanks

  23. So if you only prep for 4 days, what do you do for the rest of the days?

  24. Katie do you have an instagram? i love your page!

  25. I was wondering if it is still healthy when you reheat in microwave? I was telling my mother and sister my meal prep plans and they sorta discourage my by saying my meals wouldn’t be healthy if I reheated them in the microwave?!
    Help!

  26. So i want to meal prep but i hate reheating chicken it tastes gross to me. I only like chicken first time its cooked so i dont know how to go about meal prep since i have this problem. What donu suggest?

    • Do you like tofu? Ground chicken, turkey? It doesn’t have to be chicken, just a lean meat or protein. Or you could always go my route and eat the chicken cold?

  27. What seasonings do you put on your shrimp? It looks delicious!!!! I am going to do my first meal prep with my sister on Sunday and this is the first one I have come across that looks appealing :) Please share :) Thanks!

  28. Thank you so much for doing this! This is exactly what I was looking for. My brother and I are planning on starting food prepping for this upcoming week and I was so lost of how to start and what to do. You rock!!

  29. Mariah Salinas says:

    How many of the “lunches” do you eat a day?

  30. Monica says:

    How do you prevent chicken and turkey from drying out after you cook them? I meal prepped the other day and my chicken and turkey were super dry the next day and my veggies were soggy…any help would be greatly appreciated!!

    • try blanching veggies and not cooking them the whole way through! That’s what I do. Maybe you are cooking your chicken on too high of a heat to begin with? I do 350 and cook it slow.

  31. Shannon Quinn says:

    Hi! I was just wondering what are the portions for each meal? For example, how do i know how much oatmeal to take out for breakast? and How much protein goes into each meal and the veggies?

  32. Love the tips. clearly need to be sorted out while prepping. quick question. after you have completed meal prep. storing them in the fridge is that okay. as i would like to meal prep for a 6 day week lunch. just worried if the veggies & meat would be ok to keep in the fridge for these many days?

  33. I saw your blog and have been trying our meal prep for a week as well. Would love to get your opinion on how I did healthylivying.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/meal-prep-first-timer/ :)

  34. Hello,
    I was wondering if you have any advice for a mother wanting to food prep but still having to cook meals for twin 12 year old boys?

    • Hi Meagan!

      Wow that’s a tough age! Things in “fry” and “nugget form” are probably your best friend lol. Sweet potato wedges and fries, chicken strips that are grilled over fried! Big batches of baked oats would be good too that way they can top with different things and you can keep it healthier!

  35. do you have a half cup of dry or cooked grains..? :)

  36. Brittany says:

    When meal prepping meat do I need to freeze it for the week or is it safe to leave in the fridge (chicken,shrimp, pork).

  37. Today is my first day of meal prep and prepping meals for 2 people and my self I was we’d define how many days do you prep for the whole 7

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  1. […] a little to swift on Sunday and forgot to take photos. However I went to another fitness blog (skinnyminniemoves) and snag some photos and tips from someone who has experience doing this and for those of you who […]

  2. […] How to Meal Prep by Skinnie Minnie Moves […]

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