1) Designate meal prep days.
Most individuals generally select days over the weekend to prepare meals for the week, since it tends to be the least busy time during the week. View your schedule the week before, and decide which day(s) work best for you to reserve time for meal preparation days for the upcoming week.
2) Create a menu for the week.
Research recipes to complete your menu for the week. One key to successful meal planning is to keep recipes simple and in proportion to your needs. Generally, each meal should consist of a serving of protein, a complex carbohydrate, a vegetable and/or fruit and a healthy fat. If you are meal planning for the entire family, consult with family members and incorporate their suggestions. Keep a catalog of recipes you find for future meals to make the process simpler for the next time.
3) Organize a grocery list.
Based on the meals you have selected, create a shopping list. Use a notepad (digital or physical) or a grocery app on your mobile device to organize your list by aisle.
4) Shop according to your list.
Since you created your weekly menu ahead of time, stick to shopping for only ingredients included on your list. By doing this, you will cut down on purchasing unnecessary products/food items that could potentially derail the progress you’ve already made towards reaching your nutrition goals. If you are short on time, try using a grocery delivery service, such as Instacart, or curb-side grocery pick-up service, currently available via a variety of grocers.
5) Prepare your meals on the designated day(s).
Preparing meals for the entire week can sometimes be overwhelming and time consuming, especially when you are under consistent time constraints. If this is the case for you, select 2 – 3 days per week for meal prepping. Make your meal plan work for you AND your schedule.
6) Store meals properly.
If you intend on making meal planning/food prepping a consistent practice, invest in quality, portable storage containers to assure proper storage of all meals. Containers come in various shapes, sizes, and materials. There are several options to choose from, such as stackable containers (to save or maximize space when storing food in small spaces) or sectioned containers (to help manage portions). You can opt to purchase a bulk supply of containers for each individual meal of the week, or take the minimalist approach and purchase only the exact amount you need to pack food for 2 – 3 days at a time.
PRO TIP: If your primary objective for meal planning is weight loss/maintenance, look for storage containers with compartments or ones that are similar in size to meals intended for them. Three compartment containers are great to use for complete meals since there are individual spaces reserved for protein, complex carbohydrates and vegetables.
*Blog originally posted HERE.