Following a meal plan is easy, in theory, because all the information is laid out for you already. But how do you maximize your time and actually stick to the plan? Cooking each meal of the day, every single day, can get tiring very quickly. Here’s our top tips to help you learn how to meal plan and meal prep like a pro!
Start with a Meal Plan
This one is pretty obvious, right? You can start by choosing one of our already created meal plans or you can create your own! If you choose to go the DIY route, make sure that you actually write it down. When you have a plan that you can physically see and edit, you are more likely to follow it. Rather than visualizing the idea in your head.
Create a Grocery List
Once your meal plan is decided, it’s time to make sure you buy all that you need for it. And that’s it! Nothing more, nothing less. When you buy ingredients outside of your meal plan, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Think of it like this: you want to eat healthy, yet you fill your freezer with pizza rolls and chocolate chip waffles. It just doesn’t work.
We always suggest shopping your kitchen first. With your meal plan in hand, write down what ingredients you have already. Check your fridge, freezer, and your pantry. If you have some items that have been neglected or are about to spoil, try to incorporate them into your meals for the week. Ingredients that you have yet don’t use are wasted money.
Now that you’ve shopped your kitchen, it’s time to write your official grocery list. Take a look at the ingredients you still need in order to follow your meal plan and write them down. Be specific, write down exactly how much you need of each item. This will ensure you don’t have to run back to the grocery store, and it can also prevent you from spending more than you need.
Dedicate Time to Meal Prep
Cooking each meal every day isn’t ideal, especially when you work a full-time job or are a student. This is the reason many people quit following their meal plan after only a couple days. You don’t want to spend your free time cooking, you want to lay down and watch some Netflix or enjoy time with friends. We get that!
This is why we suggest meal prepping immediately after you’ve returned from grocery shopping. You’re already in the process of putting away items, so you may as well put them away prepared. Take a look at your meal plan and find what you can do to make things easier during the week.
Some things you can do during this time include washing and cutting vegetables; simply store them in containers to keep fresh during the week. You can also cook some meals ahead of time and freeze them. It’s like making your own frozen TV dinners! Except yours will be much better in terms of quality. This can be soup, meat, breakfast, almost anything can be frozen and reheated besides salads and other produce that is meant to be consumed fresh.
We love freezing meals because we don’t have to worry about anything spoiling.
You also can prep anything that you’ll add liquid to. A couple examples are overnight oats and smoothies. Make smoothie packs by combining your vegetables and fruits in a bag, then store in the freezer. In the morning, grab the bag, empty it into a blender, add your liquid, and go!
Cook Multiple Meals at Once
If you’re not freezing meals ahead of time, then another strategy to ensure you stick to your meal plan is to cook meals in batches. Perhaps your meal plan has you eating the same lunch for three days; cook them all at once. Cooked food usually stores well in the fridge anywhere from 3-5 days. It’s so easy to grab the already cooked meal and simply heat it up in the microwave.
Following a meal plan requires discipline and self-control, but these meal prep tips certainly make life in the kitchen a lot easier. Let us know what helps you stick to your meal plan in the comments below!