meal prep 101
Step 1: Make a List
You can use a meal planning service or you can find a couple of recipes you want to make and figure out what you need.
I personally take a look at the sales at my local Whole Foods and base my produce off of that, but I have a pretty basic grocery shopping list that I always use. Coming in prepared helps save you time and money.
Budget Tip: Take advantage of coupons (manufacturer and/or digital coupons like Whole Foods has) and rebate apps like Ibotta to save extra money on things you’re buying anyway. See more details on that below.
Step 2: Grocery Shop
Try to get in and out as quickly as you can and make this your one trip for the week. I do my grocery shopping while I’m doing my laundry, so I only have 45 minutes while my clothes are drying to walk to the store, shop, walk back, put my groceries away, and pick up my laundry.
Try to go at off times so you’re not stuck in a crowd. And it’s true — never shop while hungry. At least make yourself a snack before so you don’t feel tempted to buy everything.
Budget Tip: Estimate how much you’ll spend and only bring that much cash. If you’re using a credit card (which I do), take advantage of cash-back offers like the Uber/Visa deal, if it’s available.
Step 3: Pre-Cut Veggies
I find that the thing that takes me the longest if I don’t meal prep is cooking or cutting veggies. So either buy pre-cut kale/veggies (more expensive), salad mix, or take the time to cut all the veggies at once. This saves a ton of time and makes for easy salad-making later!
Step 4: Batch Cook and Assemble
I like to cook a bunch of protein and roast veggies at the beginning of the week — that way I can mix and match to make a meal. It’s like a DIY salad bar!
If you’ve chosen recipes, make a big batch so that it’ll last you all week. I like pre-portioning them into Tupperware right after I make it so I can just grab and go in the morning or reheat it after a long day.
Step 5: Clean Up + Keep Dinner Simple
Do the dishes and put everything away right after you meal prep. This will save you from a huge mess (and headache) the day after.
For dinner, I personally don’t like eating meals I’ve prepped and don’t want to do extra cleaning, so I do a super simple dinner that involves minimal prep/cleanup, like throwing roasted veggies and some eggs into a bowl or doing a cauli "oat" bowl. Or, for an extra treat, I buy dinner from Whole Foods or a healthy fast-casual place like Sweetgreen, Dig Inn, or Noon Mediterranean. (Though definitely doing less of that now to save some extra $$$.)
Bonus: Rely on Easy Proteins
I always keep some Wild Planet salmon and tuna, VT Smoke Pepperoni and meat sticks, and frozen salmon and/or turkey burgers on hand — they're super easy sources of protein won't go bad and are life-savers when you really don't have anything in your fridge or don't have time to batch-cook protein!
Basic Grocery List
- Organic spinach (fresh + frozen)
- Organic kale (fresh + frozen)
- Frozen organic berries
- Frozen organic broccoli
- Frozen organic cauliflower
- Frozen organic veggie mix
- Frozen organic cauliflower rice
- Frozen sweet potatoes
- Frozen organic mushrooms
- Sweet potatoes
- Lemon juice
- Non-dairy milk
- Non-dairy yogurt
- Cage-free eggs
- Organic apples
- Organic carrots
- Hummus/non-dairy spreadable cheese
- Protein (hemp tofu, wild salmon, grass-fed beef, organic & free-range chicken)
Things I Keep in My Pantry & Restock as Needed:
- Chia seeds
- Nutritional yeast
- Protein powder (no sugar added)
- Flaxseed meal
- Coconut flakes (unsweetened)
- Nuts/seeds (dry roasted or raw)
- Nut/seed butter
- Hemp seeds
- Clean protein bars
- Beef jerky & meat sticks
- Canned wild salmon or tuna
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil spray (great for roasting veggies)
- All the spices (most used are cayenne, pink Himalayan sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, turmeric)