5 STRATEGIES TO BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL MEAL PREP ROUTINE.
1. LOOK AHEAD.
Pick a day where you can review your schedule for the upcoming week. For example: check the schedule and plan grocery shopping and meal prep for Sunday.1-3 The goal when looking ahead is to determine which meals you will need to prepare ahead of time due to time commitments. These will be the meals you prep in advance. If you are new to meal prepping, begin meal prepping for one meal period of the week (breakfast, lunch, dinner, healthy snacks).
2. MENU PLANNING.
Menu planning does not have to be elaborate.1-3 In this phase of preparation, outline the protein, starch, vegetables, fruits, and fats you would like to eat at each meal. Reference a favorite cookbook or online recipe for inspiration for food pairings. You’ll need these ideas handy for the next phase, meal prepping. Use the hand portion guide from my previous post.
3. CREATE A GROCERY LIST.
Planning a grocery list ahead is essential. There have been times I just purchase on the fly and buy too much, overspend, and waste food.3 Your grocery list is your guide. Take some time to inventory your pantry, fridge, and freezer to determine what food items you need for the week. Then, add the items from your menu in STEP 2 that you currently do not have or need to re-stock.
Depending on your preference and schedule, you may prefer to grocery shop in-person or schedule a pickup time at your local store (if that service is available).2-3 I personally have used both approaches. I prefer to shop in-store, especially for my fresh produce; that way, I know what I’ll be receiving. On the flipside, shopping online for in-store pickup or delivery is very convenient and saves time! Plus, I am way better at sticking to my grocery list and saving money when I purchase online. Target has a way of getting me to spend more…I’m sure some of you know what I mean! If needed, purchase in bulk. I cook for two, therefore, bulk is not necessary in this stage of my life. For families, I highly encourage bulk purchases. Secret tip: get to know a local butcher, they will usually cut some deals!
5. ORGANIZE FRIDGE, FREEZER, AND PANTRY.
Once you finish shopping, organize your food items to avoid food spoilage and accidental purchases.3 I use color dot stickers with the date purchased or prepared on pre-made meals and cooked meals. I use stickers for food safety precautions and toss food 3-5 days old, especially chicken and fish. I will review food safety more in-depth next week in my post on “how to meal prep.” Keep open, fresh whole-foods towards the front of your fridge so that it is easily visible. I organize my pantry by shelf:
|fresh produce||canned goods|
|dairy & cooked Items||baking – flour, sugar, coconut, baking soda, extracts, etc|
|beverages||carbohydrates & starches – pasta, rice, oatmeal, bread|
|fruit (bottom left drawer)||spices & cooking oils|
|raw meat (bottom right drawer)||bulk misc (floor)|
NEXT WEEK >>> MEAL PREP STRATEGIES
- St. Pierre B. Meal plans usually suck. Precision Nutrition. https://www.precisionnutrition.com/meal-plans-usually-suck. Published December 11, 2020. Accessed March 27, 2021.
- Berardi JM. [Infographic] Weekly meal prep: Mastered. Here’s how to have healthy food ready when you need it. Precision Nutrition. Published May 7, 2019. Accessed August 14, 2019. https://www.precisionnutrition.com/weekly-meal-prep-infographic
- 12 Tips to Help You Master Your Weekly Meal Prep Routine. Project Meal Plan. Published December 12, 2017. Accessed March 27, 2021. https://projectmealplan.com/master-your-meal-prep/