Meal prepping is a huge life and time saver when you’re focused on healthy eating. In this post, I’m sharing how to meal prep for beginners and everything you need to know to make sure it goes smoothly.
I love to meal prep! I’ve gotten so much benefit from doing it, it’s become a permanent part of my weekly routine.
As much as I’m a fan, I do know that if you’re totally new to meal prepping, it can be a little intimidating. A lot of people get worried about how to do it, how long it takes, what kinds of foods they can prep ahead, etc.
I’m going to cover how to meal prep for beginners in 4 easy steps:
- Plan out your meals
- Schedule your meal prep
- Prep your ingredients
- Cook the longest meals first
Plus tips I’ve learned from doing years of meal prep, common mistakes, and common questions that come up. I’m sharing everything you need to know about meal prepping so everything goes off without a hitch.
Let’s get started!
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What is meal prepping?
Before we get into how to meal prep, let’s get clear on what meal prepping actually is. It’s cooking your food ahead of time so you have to do less work the day you actually want to eat it. There are a couple of ways to do it.
You can fully cook your meals and store them in the freezer or fridge. That way when you’re ready to eat them, you just quickly reheat and enjoy.
Another method would be to prep just the ingredients ahead of time.
This could be doing things like chopping all the vegetables or pre-cooking the meat. Then when you’re ready to eat, you can just throw everything together really quick and do the last few steps of cooking.
Another version of meal prepping is to put all the ingredients together and put it in the freezer. Sometimes this is also called freezer cooking. You can fully cook the meal, or cook it all the way up to the last stage of cooking.
Then when you’re ready to eat it, you defrost it ahead of time and then reheat it or finish cooking it.
Which meal prep method you will use will depend on your schedule and your preference. There is really no wrong way to do it.
Whatever saves you time and energy and works best for you is the best way to do it.
Meal Prepping vs. Meal Planning
Another thing to understand before we dive into how to meal prep for beginners is the difference between meal prepping and meal planning. A lot of people think they’re the same thing and they’re not.
Meal planning refers to just writing out what you’re going to eat. You can meal plan for the day or the whole week.
It’s very helpful for saving money on groceries, making your evenings a little less stressful, and helping you stick to a better diet.
Meal prepping takes it a step further. You still create a meal plan, but then you proceed to actually cook or prep some of the food ahead of time.
Meal planning is very helpful, but I have found that meal prepping is really where the magic is.
Why I Love Meal Prepping
Meal prepping is so great because you save yourself all the drama and stress about what’s for dinner. No more hungry children driving you nuts because you should have started dinner 30 minutes ago.
Gone are the days of last-minute runs to the grocery store because you are missing one important recipe ingredient. Say goodbye to hitting the drive-through because you don’t have enough time or energy to cook.
Plus, my personal favorite, no more staring at a dirty kitchen after a long day. I seriously went from spending an hour doing dishes each night to 10-15 minutes! That alone is enough to keep me doing this for the rest of my life!
I also love how meal prepping helps me stick to a healthier diet. The healthy food is all ready and waiting for me in the fridge.
It’s so convenient that even on the tired, crappy days, I can still make healthy eating decisions because the cooking and thinking part is already done. I just pull it out of the fridge, pop it in the microwave, and dinner is served.
Benefits of Meal Prepping
If that isn’t enough to convince you that meal prepping is worth a try, here are some ways meal prepping makes your life easier.
Meal prepping saves you money. Eating at home is always cheaper than eating out. And on top of that, when you meal prep, you have to plan your meals out ahead of time.
This helps you spend less at the grocery store and typically be a little more efficient with the food that you buy. Especially if you’re using a meal planning service like The Dinner Daily.
They plan your meals for you based on the sales at your local grocery store. They even create a list for you.
All you gotta do is swing by to pick up your order and then go home and get cooking.
All the extra time you save is one of my favorite reasons for meal prepping. Prior to adding this to my routine, I would somehow manage to spend an hour a night figuring out dinner.
Either the recipe would take me that long to cook, or figuring out what I was going to make, finding all the ingredients, maybe having to make a last-minute run to the store…
And that’s just on dinner. Never mind having to figure out breakfasts and lunches too.
Now I spend a few hours cooking on Sundays and then every other meal throughout the week takes about 5 minutes to put together.
As a mom with a neverending to-do list, anything that saves me hours of time a week is definitely worth my time.
Another huge benefit of meal prepping is that it helps with weight loss. As I mentioned before, having your healthy meals all ready to go in the fridge all week makes it soooo much easier to stick to your diet.
After a long day, the last thing I want to do is try to figure out something healthy to eat. I’m usually just trying to get everyone fed so I can finally get a moment or two to myself.
I’m tired, worn out, and ready to be DONE with my day. That’s a pretty rough mindset to be fighting with myself to make healthy eating choices.
When I have my meal prep done, I don’t even have to think about it. The food is already there and it’s faster and more convenient to eat than something unhealthy.
Having my meal prep done saves my diet at least once a day. True story.
Less stress around mealtimes and in the evenings
Another great benefit of meal prepping is how it makes your evenings and meal times go a lot smoother. This is especially true for moms.
When 6 pm rolls around and your toddler is starting to get hangry, your husband walks through the door asking what’s for dinner, and you’re already exhausted, the last thing you want to do is spend 45 minutes cooking.
Especially considering half your kids are probably going to refuse to eat what you made anyway. And then on top of that, you have to spend another 30 minutes later doing all the dishes.
And that’s just on a good day.
When you meal prep, you get to skip all that drama. At my house, when it’s time for dinner, the only people I have to worry about are myself and the toddler. My older girls and my husband take care of their own food.
They head to the fridge, decide what they want to eat, put it in a bowl, heat it up, and head for the table. We’re all typically sitting down to eat in about 10 minutes.
Everyone gets to decide what they want from what’s already prepped in the fridge, we have fewer dinner battles, I’m not as tired because I actually get to rest a little at the end of the day, and dishes take me half the time to get done.
Who should meal prep?
You might think meal prepping sounds great, but is it really for you? Here’s the way to decide: do you want to save time or money and eat better?
If the answer is yes, you should meal prep, if the answer is no, you probably have a personal chef already.
Lol ok, just kidding on that last part, but I will admit that not everyone finds meal prepping a good fit.
If you truly enjoy cooking every night, then you might miss doing it throughout the week. In that case, I would suggest just prepping your ingredients ahead of time, but not doing the actual cooking.
You can brown the meat, mix the marinade, chop the vegetables, and stuff like that. You can still do the actual cooking each night, but you’ll still save yourself some extra time.
Another common reason I hear that people don’t like to meal prep is that they don’t eat leftovers or their family won’t eat leftovers. (As someone who loves leftovers, this always takes me by surprise.)
If that’s the case, then you can use the same meal prep method I mentioned above. Prep your ingredients ahead of time, but do the actual cooking that night.
That way your food will still taste fresh, but you’ve saved yourself a ton of time.
What do you need to get started?
If you have everything you need to cook your regular meals, then you’re most likely good to go when it comes to meal prepping. Remember, it’s not anything crazy, you’re just cooking your meals ahead of time all at once.
Beyond that though, you will need some storage containers to store the food in the fridge or freezer.
There are two ways to store your meal-prepped food. You can do individual containers, or you can do more buffet style.
I typically do buffet style, where I cook the food and store the entire meal in one big container. That way, my family can just help themselves throughout the day and it takes up less room in my fridge.
If you’re meal prepping meals to take with you for lunch or you don’t have a family of five and there is more room in your fridge, you can also do individual meal prep containers.
If you’re ok with plastic, here are some dishwasher and microwave-safe containers that work well.
Don’t like plastic and would prefer glass containers? These ones are really nice too.
If you’re going to store your food buffet-style as I do, here are some nice big containers.
How to Meal Prep for Beginners in 4 Easy Steps
Step 1: Plan out your meals and make your grocery list
Plan your food for the week
The first step in how to meal prep for beginners is to grab a pen and paper and start writing down what you want to eat for the week. I like to plan for the entire week and get it all done in one shot.
Not everyone is comfortable with planning that far out. If not, try planning for 2-3 days in advance. Even that can save you a lot of time and effort!
To make things easier for yourself, you can try cooking three meals and one breakfast for the whole week. Double each meal and eat leftovers for lunch.
When I did this, I usually picked one meal for myself, one meal I knew my kids would eat, and one meal I knew my husband would eat.
This way everyone has something they like to eat, and no one complains. This cut down on mealtime drama by a lot!
These days, I’ve expanded to planning 5 meals for the week. Then we have 1 day of leftovers and 1 night of frozen pizza.
I pick 2 meals for me, 2 for my kids, and 1 I know my husband will like. I cook 2 different breakfasts and if the kids don’t want those, they can have cereal.
For lunch, we still do leftovers or super simple meals that can be put together in a few minutes.
I have different meals for Sunday because that is my actual meal prep day, so I like to keep it simple.
Here are some roundups of healthy recipes to try:
- 25 Healthy Dinner Recipes Your Kids Will Love
- 9 Healthy Freezer Meals to Make Ahead
- 15 Healthy Recipes to Cook When You’re On a Budget
- 35 Easy and Healthy Foil Pack Dinners
- 35+ Yummy & Healthy Crockpot Meals for Kids
- 25 Yummy & Healthy Meal Prep Breakfast Bowls
Make your grocery list
Once you have picked your meals for the week, it’s time to make your grocery list. This part is usually pretty quick. As I look over the recipes I want to use, I write down the ingredients on my grocery list.
Once I’m done with that, I usually do a quick check in the pantry to make sure I’m not buying anything I already have. If you want a more in-depth breakdown on meal planning, head over to my post How to Meal Plan in 4 Simple Steps. It covers everything you need to know to meal plan like a pro.
Step 2: Schedule your meal prep day
The next step in how to meal prep for beginners is to schedule when to do the actual meal prep. Schedule it for a day when you have lots of time and few interruptions.
You want to plan for 3-4 hours, in the beginning, depending on how many meals you are cooking.
The longer the cooking time of the recipes, the longer it will take you to meal prep. If your family eats simpler meals, you could easily be done in just 2 hours.
This might seem like a long time to be cooking, but if you are spending almost an hour cooking each night, that adds up to 6-7 hours each week. Meal prepping requires a lot less effort!
I like to do my prep on Sunday because my husband is usually home to help a little with the kids. On weekends when he isn’t home, or I am short on time, I plan really quick meals for the week so I can be done fast.
Step 3: Prep your ingredients first
The next step in how to meal prep for beginners is to prep your ingredients. If you have vegetables that need to be chopped for some of your recipes, chop all of them at the same time.
If you have meats that need to be cooked, cook them all at the same time. I group stovetop and oven meals together at the same time as well.
This saves time on cooking and keeps me from having to go back and forth to different areas of the kitchen. It also keeps more counter space free when I don’t have to leave things out that I’m not currently using.
Step 4: Start with the meals that have the longest cooking time
The last step in how to meal prep for beginners is to start cooking. I cook the meals that will take the longest time to cook first.
If I am doing anything with my crockpot or Instant Pot that week, then I start with those recipes. If it’s a really long cook time, like 6-8 hours, I will start it that morning.
Next, I move on to anything that cooks in the oven. After that, I start making the stovetop meals.
As things finish I set them aside to cool on a separate counter. This gives me a better chance of everything finishing close to the same time.
And after that, you’re done! That’s it! You have now saved yourself from cooking ALL WEEK!
How to Meal Prep For Beginners: Tips & Tricks for a Successful Meal Prep
In this post is about how to meal prep for beginners, I also want to share some tips to help make your meal prep as successful as possible. These are little things I have learned to do from meal prepping for the last few years.
Use your kitchen gadgets and appliances
If you have any kitchen gadgets or appliances that you can set and forget, use them! They help save you time and you will only have to do the cleanup this one day.
Start with a clean kitchen
Starting with a clean kitchen is super helpful. All of your pots, pans, measuring cups, and spoons will be ready and waiting for you to use them. It’s definitely frustrating to be in the middle of cooking and realize the bowl or utensil you need is in the sink or dishwasher.
I even recommend cleaning your kitchen the day or night before if you can manage it. Having to clean your kitchen, cook for 3 hours, and then clean your kitchen again makes the whole process a lot longer.
Clear out your refrigerator before you start
I made the mistake of not doing this the first time I meal prepped. I ended up doing some pretty intense Tetris trying to fit everything in.
Now I look through the refrigerator the night before and condense any meals leftover into small containers. This frees up my big containers for the next meal prep and makes a lot more room in the refrigerator.
Make sure you have enough containers before you start
You definitely don’t want to cook all this food and realize you have no way to store it. A quick glance through the cabinet will help make sure you have everything you need.
If you don’t have any meal prep containers, I like these ones here.
Grocery shop the day before
Grocery shop the day before if you can manage it. This ensures you have everything you need when you’re ready to start cooking.
It also makes meal prepping easier if you aren’t tired from grocery shopping. If you’re anything like me, after making it through the store with three kids in tow, you’re not trying to do much afterward.
If you’re really trying to save yourself some time and effort, use grocery pick up or delivery if your store has it.
Freeze any extras you know you won’t eat that week
If you have any meals that you know your family won’t finish that week, freeze the extras. I especially like to do this with soups or extra chicken and ground beef. I will sometimes buy a little extra for that week, cook it, and freeze it.
Then I just pull the food out of the freezer the night before, and then I’m halfway done with my next meal prep once it thaws the next day. This is super helpful for weeks that I need to do a rush meal prep.
Start slow. Try a meal or two first and ease into it
When you’re first exploring how to meal prep for beginners, it can definitely feel a little overwhelming. Feel free to start with a meal or two and just try it out.
I first started by meal prepping our breakfasts. It was simple fast, and if it didn’t work out, I could easily fix something else.
I was a fan (obviously!) and quickly started meal prepping all of our meals for the week.
Start with what you feel comfortable doing for now and add in more when you’re ready.
Put it on your schedule
If you’re anything like me, what doesn’t get written down quickly falls out of your head. I’m pretty sure my kids sucked up my best brain cells, so I always make sure I write down my meal prep day on the calendar.😂
This makes sure I don’t forget or don’t accidentally plan something during that time and then we’re scrambling for meals all week.
Use a meal planning service
Another suggestion I have for how to meal prep for beginners is to use a meal planning service. Especially if you’re brand new to meal planning, this makes everything waaaay easier.
The most recent one I’ve used is The Dinner Daily and they make the planning process super easy. All you have to do is put in your meal preferences and they do all the rest.
They supply you with a weekly meal plan that meets your health goals and is based on the sales at your current grocery store. They also create the list for you and will send it to your grocery store so you literally only have to add the few extra things you need around the house and you’re done with planning your meals.
Even if you don’t use that service, having something that does the planning for you can make it that much easier to meal prep each week.
Plan around your social life
When you’re planning your meal prep, make sure you keep in mind your schedule for the week. Do you have sports practice, meetings, dinner with friends planned, etc?
Take that into account when you’re planning how many meals you want to cook.
Also, keep in mind what your schedule will look like around the time that you would be cooking. When I have a super busy weekend and I know I don’t have a lot of time to meal prep, I make sure I plan super fast meals.
That way I can still get it done without having to miss out on other events. A little planning ahead of time can make everything go more smoothly.
Make all-in-one meals
One of the things I did a lot when I was first learning to meal prep was to cook all-in-one meals. These were meals that let me cook everything in one pot or pan.
Things like sheet pans dinners, crockpot meals, or Instant Pot meals. Anything that meant less work and fewer dishes was right up my alley.
It helped me to make the whole cooking process easier so I could get used to having to do a whole meal prep each weekend.
Have good food storage containers
Another important part of how to meal prep for beginners is making sure you have good food storage containers. There is nothing worse than slaving away during your meal prep just to find your food went bad a few days later because it wasn’t stored properly.
That’s just a waste of time, food, and money. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Make sure your containers seal airtight. If you’re putting your food in the freezer, make sure your containers are made to go in the freezer so you can avoid freezer burn.
Pay Attention to Food Safety
My last tip for how to meal prep for beginners is to make sure that you pay attention to food safety. If you don’t let your food cool and store it properly, it can go bad and make you sick when you eat it.
I’m sure you don’t want that, and I don’t want that for you. The USDA breaks down the signs you should look for to tell if your food has gone bad in this article: USDA issues reminder about how to safely meal prep.
Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, a nutrition expert covers some important rules for meal prep safety.
- Wash your hands before cooking and after touching raw meat or eggs.
- Be sure not to cross-contaminate surfaces that have touched raw meat or eggs.
- Don’t let refrigerated foods sit out for a long time.
- Follow the CDC guidelines for safe temperatures for cooking meat.
- Only store meat in the fridge for up to 4 days. Up to 3 months for the freezer.
- Allow food to cool before placing it in the fridge or freezer.
Common Mistakes with Meal Prepping
When you’re just learning how to meal prep for beginners, it’s common to make mistakes. I sure did. Here is a list of common mistakes people make and what to do instead.
Making your meal prep too complicated
Don’t make your meal prep too complicated. Keep it simple! Especially when you’re first starting.
I made the mistake a few times of looking up all these elaborate meals to cook. They tasted amazing, but they also took for-ev-er to cook.
Plus, they used all these random ingredients that I then had a bunch leftover taking up room in my fridge.
It’s nice to be ambitious and try new meals, but limit it to one or two a week. Once you get your meal prepping routine down, you can try to experiment a little more.
Picking meals you won’t actually eat
Another common mistake I see people make is they plan meals they think they should be eating. I see this a lot with women who are working on eating healthier or losing weight.
They think they should be eating nothing but chicken and broccoli. Or they find this diet plan online that promises amazing results.
It all sounds good on paper, but the reality is, they hate chicken and broccoli or the diet plan makes them miserable.
Planning meals you won’t eat is just a waste of time and money. Plus, you feel all defeated and wasteful when you’re looking at a fridge full of food you won’t eat.
There are a ton of healthy meals out there that will help you reach your goals. So don’t waste your time meal prepping meals you aren’t going to eat.
Not planning properly
The last meal prep mistake I see the most often is a lack of planning. It’s really hard to sit down and cook your meals for the week if you don’t know what you’re having.
You won’t have the right ingredients on hand and everything takes a lot longer.
It’s also really hard to do if you haven’t looked at your schedule. I’ll give you a quick example.
One week I was feeling all fired up about cooking some soups. I made soups for me, the kids, and even my husband.
And then Tuesday runs around and I remember that we’re eating on the go because we’ll all be at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practice. Want to guess what food isn’t easy to eat on the go??
And we had planned to be at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu 3 nights that week. Had I taken a minute or two to check my schedule ahead of time, I would have realized that I needed to plan a few other meals besides soup.
A little planning can go a long way toward making your meal prep more successful.
Easy & Healthy Meal Prep Recipe Ideas
Now that you know how to meal prep for beginners, here are some healthy and delicious recipes you can try out.
Our Family Favorites
Kid-Friendly Healthy Recipes
- 25 Healthy Dinner Recipes Your Kids Will Love
- 40+ Yummy Lunch Ideas for Back to School
- 35+ Yummy & Healthy Crockpot Meals for Kids
- 11 Quick Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids
Healthy Breakfast Recipes
- 25 Yummy & Healthy Meal Prep Breakfast Bowls
- Pumpkin Oatmeal
- Apple of My Eye Overnight Oats
- Peanut Butter Granola
- Banana and Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal Cups
Healthy Recipes for Weight Loss
- 35 Easy and Healthy Foil Pack Dinners
- 7 Healthy Snacks for Moms on the Go
- No-Cook Meal Prep Ideas
- 9 Healthy Freezer Meals to Make Ahead
- 15 Healthy Recipes to Cook When You’re On a Budget
How to Meal Prep for Beginners FAQ’s
Still have a few questions? You aren’t the only one. Here are some common questions that come up about how to meal prep for beginners.
What are the best foods to meal prep?
If you’re doing a full meal prep where you fully cook your meal ahead of time, here are some foods that reheat well:
- Baked dinners
- Meat and side dishes
- Rice dishes
- Steamed Vegetables
- Crockpot meals
You want to avoid anything that is fried or needs to be crispy. They don’t reheat well unless you have an air fryer.
If you’re just doing a partial meal prep where you only prep the ingredients ahead of time, but don’t fully cook your meal, you can make just about anything.
You decide how much you want to cook ahead of time and finish up the day you’re planning to eat.
How long can you keep meal prep in the fridge?
According to the USDA, you should only keep your meals in the fridge for about 3-4 days max. I personally have kept things like soups and stews in the fridge for 6-7 days and have not had any issues.
Most meals do tend to go bad at about that 7-8 day mark though. Feel free to do whatever you feel more comfortable with.
If you pre-cook your food and you want it to last longer than 3-4 days, just pop it in the freezer and be sure to give it a day or so to defrost when you pull it out.
What if I don’t like leftovers?
If you’re not a fan of leftovers, then I would definitely suggest doing the partial version of meal prep. At the beginning of the week take a little bit of time and prep all the ingredients you’ll need that week.
Chop all the vegetables, cook the meats, mix together the casseroles, etc. Do everything up until the final step of cooking.
Then, on the day you plan to eat the meal, pull it out and finish cooking. It should taste just as fresh as if you had cooked it all that day, but you’ll still have saved yourself some time and effort.
It might take a little tweaking with your recipe to see at which point in the recipe you need to stop cooking. But the extra time you gain back in your week will be well worth the effort.
What if I don’t want to eat the same thing every day?
A lot of people looking into how to meal prep for beginners think that it means you cook one meal, double or triple the recipe, and then eat the same thing every day. This is one way to do it, but not the only way.
If you like a little more variety in your meals, you can cook multiple meals and then place all the leftovers in the freezer. Then you have lots of options about what you want to eat for that day.
Just be sure to pull it out of the freezer early enough to let it defrost.
Is meal prepping healthy?
Yes! One of the reasons I started meal prepping was because I was trying to eat healthier. My family wasn’t on board with my diet and I was looking for ways to feed myself healthier foods without having to cook two different meals every night.
I haven’t met a mom yet who likes that idea. 😑
Meal prepping allows you to eat healthy without the struggle or inconvenience of having to cook every night. Especially if your family doesn’t want to eat healthy with you.
How long does meal prepping take?
How long meal prepping takes mostly depends on how many recipes you’re cooking and how long they take to cook. If you’ve planned recipes with a lot of steps, chopping, and cook time, your meal prep is going to take a while.
If you’re planned some quick meal prep recipes that can be put together super fast, it can be over and done fairly quickly.
I’ve had meal preps that have taken me 2 hours to prep breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the whole week. I’ve also had meal preps that have taken me 4 hours.
It just depends on what type of recipes you choose and how many meals you’re prepping.
I would say on average, it typically takes me about 3 hours or so. Considering I used to spend at least 45 minutes cooking every night, meal prepping means a lot less time spent in the kitchen.
How to Save Money With Your Meal Prep
A guide on how to meal prep for beginners wouldn’t be complete with some quick money-saving tips. Although eating healthy foods is my top priority when it comes to my diet, sticking to our budget is a pretty close second.
With a family of 5, my grocery budget can get out of hand fast if I’m not careful. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of meal prepping without breaking the bank.
Meal plan based on what’s on sale
The best way to save money on your meal prep is to base your meal plan on what’s on sale at your local grocery store. Take a quick look through the ad they put out every week and see what they have on sale.
Then look through your recipes and pick the ones that have those ingredients. I used to do this for several years and it made a HUGE difference with our grocery budget.
If that sounds like too much work, you can check out The Dinner Daily. They do all the meal planning for you and they base their recipe suggestions on what’s on sale at your local store.
For only $4.99 a month, you can be saving a ton of money on groceries every week.
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk is a great way to save money when you meal prep. When you see a good sale, instead of buying one or two of that item, buy 3 or 4.
You can pop the extras in the freezer or pantry and have them ready to go the next time you need them in a recipe.
Or you can cook up the recipes right then and store them in the freezer that way. Either way, you’re getting the most out of whatever is on sale.
Look for ingredient overlaps
Once you’ve mastered how to meal prep for beginners, you can start getting a little more efficient with your recipes. Look for similar recipes that overlap ingredients.
For example, if I’m making Baked Sausage and Potatoes, it’s cheaper to buy the big bag of potatoes at the store. But I won’t use the entire bag for that one recipe.
Instead of letting those extra potatoes sit in the pantry or possibly go to waste, I can add other recipes to my menu to use them up.
This is really useful if you’re buying something in bulk because it’s on sale or for things like fruits or vegetables that might go bad before you get a chance to use them.
Use less meat
Meat is one of the biggest expenses at the grocery store. If it’s the main focus of your recipes, it’s easy for your grocery bill to start creeping up fast.
If you’re trying to save money on your meal prep, try cutting back on how much meat you use. I’ve found that in a lot of recipes I can cut the meat back by as much as half without really noticing much of a difference.
You can always add in beans, more vegetables, or things like that to make sure your meal is equally as filling.
You can also try to incorporate more soups, stews, casseroles, into your meal plans instead of “meat and side dish” recipes.
Buy in season
Another good way to save money when meal prepping is to plan your menu around what’s in season when possible. Seasonal items are usually cheaper and fresher at the grocery store.
This also helps keep your meal prep from getting boring because you aren’t eating the same meals month after month.
Use up what you already have
Lastly, on how to meal prep for beginners and save money, make sure you take a look through your fridge and pantry and use up what you already have. A lot of times we stash those extra ingredients we don’t need away and then we completely forget about them by the time the next week comes along.
This website here will offer recipe suggestions based on what you already have on hand. I’ve used it several times and come up with some good dinner ideas that didn’t even require me to buy anything extra from the store.
My Favorite Kitchen Gadgets for Meal Prepping
Now although you can meal prep with your everyday pots and pans, there are some kitchen gadgets that will make the process go a little bit faster. Here are the ones that I find myself using every week.
A crockpot is a huge time saver when you meal prep. I always have at least one crockpot recipe each week.
That way I can just throw the ingredients in at the beginning of my meal prep and it can cook away without me having to deal with it.
The Instant Pot is another kitchen gadget that saves you time when you meal prep. Just like the crockpot, it will do a lot of the work for you so you don’t have to spend as long cooking.
I like to use mine for rice, beans, soups, and cooking chicken for other recipes.
When you’re cooking for the whole week, anything that lets you cook more in the same amount of time is super helpful. That’s why I like using my griddle.
Instead of cooking one pancake at a time on the stove, I can crank out six at a time and be done cooking faster. I will also use it for cooking hamburgers, chicken tenders, pork chops, and things like that.
Chopping vegetables is my least favorite part of cooking. And when you’re meal prepping for the whole week, that can add up to a lot of chopping. Like, a lot, a lot.
This is why I suggest you invest in a vegetable chopper if you dislike it as much as I do.
A Good Set of Knives
The last kitchen gadget I recommend you get for your meal prep is a good set of knives. As I mentioned above, there can be a lot of cutting and chopping when you meal prep.
There is nothing worse than fighting to cut some meat or vegetables because your knife sucks. It’s also a good way to cut yourself. (I got the scars to prove it lol.)
Do yourself (and your fingers) a favor and make sure you have at least one set of good knives for slicing and chopping.
Final Thoughts on How to Meal Prep for Beginners
I hope this guide on how to meal prep for beginners has left you feeling confident and ready to give it a try. Meal prepping really is a wonderful way to make sure you’re eating healthy while also saving you a ton of time and money.
Just remember to take it slow in the beginning and see what works best for your family.
If you have any more suggestions or questions on how to meal prep for beginners, leave a comment below or email me at Candice@littlestepsbighappy.com. Follow me on Pinterest for more tips and advice on meal prepping and healthy eating.
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I’m a busy mom of 3 turned Health and Fitness Coach and Self Defense Instructor. I help inspire other moms to reach their health, fitness, and weight loss goals. You can usually find me chasing my kiddos around, training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or sneaking away to read romance novels. About Me