Step 3: Go food shopping.
With your meals lined up, it’s time to make a grocery list and head to the store. Aim to do your big weekly shop on Saturday or early Sunday, so you have time to prep your ingredients before the work week begins. To get in and out as fast as possible, organize your grocery list by section (produce, meat, dairy, etc.). That way, you’re less likely to forget stuff or have to waste time backtracking.
Step 4: Prep and pack your food.
It’s worth blocking out time on the weekend to get your ingredients ready for weekday meal assembly. “Once the week starts, there’s a greater chance that the prep just won’t happen,” Roussell says. Here’s how to do it efficiently.
Prep your ingredients. No matter what’s on the menu, you can always find a way to prep it ahead of time.
- Proteins: Roast, bake, or poach poultry, meat, or fish.
- Produce: Steam or roast vegetables in a big batch, bake potatoes or sweet potatoes, and wash and chop raw fruits and vegetables for salads and snacking.
- Grains: Simmer a big batch of rice that’ll feed you all week long.
- Other components: Make sauces, dressings, or dips, and any other items on your list.
Assemble what you can. Toss hearty grain or bean salads, layer a casserole so you can pop it straight in the oven, and put solid ingredients for individual smoothies in zip-top bags so you can quickly throw them in the blender.
Store smart. Pack food in clear glass or plastic containers so you can access them easily and know exactly how much you have. (Refrigerate cooked ingredients you’ll use within 2 to 3 days; freeze the rest and thaw them later in the week.) Divide single servings of finished dishes into individual containers for easy portion control. Oh, and here’s what you need to know about BPAs.
Pack up to-go meals. Things like wraps, sandwiches, and leafy salads can get soggyif they sit in the fridge all week. If you’re having those things for lunch, assemble them the night before.
Meal Prep Template
Let these clean, easy recipes from meal prep master Kevin Curry of Fit Men Cook be your inspiration. They utilize many of the same core ingredients, so you have fewer ingredients to buy and prep. Plus, each meal makes multiple servings (or can easily be doubled or tripled), so you can eat them more than once (or freeze extras for another week). This isn’t meant to be all you eat—You’ll need to fill our your day with packable snacks like hard-boiled eggs, nuts, chopped vegetables with hummus, or protein bars.
Think of this as a template. You don’t have to reinvent a new menu from scratch each week. Instead, work off of this template, swapping in different ingredients and flavors, to make brand new meals. For instance, have another fruit with your yogurt and granola instead of berries, switch out your proteins (like salmon filets instead of flank steak), and change up your herbs and spices to create new flavor profiles.
|Mon.||Granola with 1 1/2 cups low-fat Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, and 1 banana||Chicken, Broccoli, and Brown Rice Bowl||Steak Taco Salad (to save time, roll salad into tortilla instead of baking taco shells)|
|Tues.||Mini Breakfast Casserole with banana and 1/2 cup blueberries||Thai Chicken Salad and an apple||Flank Steak with 1 cup cooked quinoa and 1 cup steamed green beans|
|Wed.||Granola with 1 1/2 cups low-fat Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, and 1 banana||Steak Taco Salad (to save time, roll salad into tortilla instead of baking taco shells)||Chicken, Broccoli, and Brown Rice Bowl|
|Thurs.||Mini Breakfast Casserole with banana and 1/2 cup blueberries||Thai Chicken Salad and an apple||Flank Steak with 1 cup cooked quinoa and 1 cup steamed green beans|
|Fri.||Granola with 1 1/2 cups low-fat Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, and 1 banana||Steak Taco Salad (to save time, roll salad into tortilla instead of baking taco shells)||Italian Meatballs over 1 cup cooked whole wheat spaghetti with 1/2 cup jarred marinara|