How to Get Started Meal Prepping

Do you feel overwhelmed as meal time approaches at the thought of all the thinking and work involved? It’s not just cooking three squares — it’s coming up with an ideas for healthy dishes, plus potentially doing grocery shopping, along with all the slicing, dicing and other work.

Doing this day after day can be exhausting, which is often what prompts people to turn to takeout or restaurant meals instead.

Meal prep helps make cooking easier — and it has other benefits as well.

Benefits of Meal Prep

According to Beaumont Health, meal planning delivers the following perks:

You’ll save time
You’ll eat healthier — and take advantage of portion control
You’ll save money
You’ll waste less food

How to Get Started
There’s nothing too complicated about getting started, although as with most projects, diving in might feel overwhelming at first. Here’s how to pick up the habit:

Step 1: Know what you like to eat.
Consider making a list of your favorite meals and dishes. If you’re cooking for your family, get input from other family members.

Gather up recipes and think about the best way to keep yourself organized (a special calendar devoted to meals, an erasable white board and so on).

Step 2: Assign tasks to days.
Organization will help you succeed. Per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, it can help to choose one day to plan your menu for the month (or week), another to go to the grocery and still another day for prep and cooking.

Step 3: Prep foods in advance
On your meal prep day, get cooking: start with grains, roasted vegetables and proteins, suggests the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

You can also wash greens, wash and break down fruits, hard boil eggs and cook dried beans.

You can either opt to cook all your meals for the week in a single day, or just prep the ingredients so that everything’s speedy when it comes time to cook.

Step 4: Portion foods in containers.
If you’re cooking full meals, place the food in individual containers — that way, you’ll have lunch for a week.

Otherwise, you can place your prep items in labeled containers. That way, when it’s time to make Tuesday’s meals, you’ll have all the legwork complete, making the actual cooking speed by.