I don’t know that much about nutrition and honestly, I don’t even like cooking. But I like to eat healthy and I like it to be as easy (and quick!) as possible, so I thought it might be helpful to share a few of the things I do!
In this blog post, I’m going to share my tips for making meal prep as easy as possible, as well as my healthy meal prep routine! But I’m not a pro, I don’t manage to do it every single week and I’m never that excited about it – so please keep that in mind.
Let’s get into it!
1. KNOW YOUR GOAL
My goal with meal prep is to save time and for it to be as easy as possible to make healthy food choices. But I tend to eat fairly healthy even when I haven’t prepped my meals, so the main reason I prep my meals is because I don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen and I want to avoid the stress of always having to figure out what to eat!
My goal isn’t variety or eating fresh. I’m not really fussed about variety (I’d rather eat the same thing everyday than have to cook lots of different things haha) and I’m happy to freeze my meals.
But maybe your goals are different! And maybe you LOVE spending time in the kitchen and need variety. Or the only way you can get yourself to eat healthy food is if it’s right there in front of you. Either way, it’s really important to know exactly why you want to do meal prep so you can find the best recipes to match.
If you don’t know exactly why you want to do meal prep, I’d take a minute to think about how important each of the below are to you on a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being extremely important, 1 being not important at all):
- I want to save time
- I want to save money
- I don’t want to think about food all the time
- I want to feel less stressed
- I want variety
- I want to eat fresh food
- I want it to be easy to eat healthy
Once you’ve rated each of those, create a little summary of the things that are most important to you when it comes to meal prep. This will give you a list of criteria you can use to screen recipes.When creating your list of what’s most important to you, you might also like to think about the answers for a few of these questions:
- How much time are you willing to allocate to meal prep each week?
- Is it important that you eat only fresh food or are you willing to prepare meals that can be frozen (so you can meal prep for more days at a time)?
- How much variety do you need? (If you feel you need a lot of variety, another question to answer is: If it was easy to prep a variety of meals, what would I need to do?)
Also just thought I’d mention here – if you really don’t want to spend time in the kitchen and healthy eating is important to you, it might be worthwhile investing your money in a healthy food delivery service. As Dan Sullivan says – if you’ve got enough money to solve the problem, you don’t have the problem.
And if you need practical tips, definitely check out this blog post.
2. DON’T GET OVERWHELMED
If you’ve ever tried looking for a healthy recipe on Pinterest, you’ll have noticed there’s no shortage! And while it’s AMAZING that we have so many options, it can also be completely overwhelming. And overwhelm is one of the biggest obstacles to getting my meal prep done!
I’ll share my favourite way to stay out of overwhelm in the next tip, but just be aware that keeping yourself in a state of overwhelm can be self-sabotage. You might be scared that, even if you meal prep, you’ll still struggle to eat healthy. So to avoid feeling like a failure, you subconsciously self-sabotage your meal prep (by letting yourself stay overwhelmed with recipes so you never get to the point of cooking) so the ‘reason’ you’re not eating healthy is because you haven’t meal prepped, not because you can’t control yourself.
If this is the first time you’re hearing about self-sabotage, I recommend reading this post!
3. FIND A GO-TO MEAL PREP RESOURCE
Once I have a criteria list for the kinds of meals I want to prep, I look for recipes. And what’s worked best for me has been finding one go-to meal prep recipe resource that has lots of recipes that match my criteria!
For me, that resource is Fit Men Cook (btw I’m not sponsored or affiliated with them in any way and I’m clearly not even in their target market haha I just love the website). Almost all of the recipes fit are simple, quick, delicious, freezable (is that a word?) and fit in the kind of ‘diet’ I like to follow. So when I need to find a recipe, that’s where I look (though I’ll admit that it’s only been in the last few months that I’ve started to try different recipes – before that I ate the same lunch of chicken, sweet potato, broccoli and beans for almost a year just because it was easy).
If you struggle to decide what to cook, I recommend finding one recipe book or one website that you’re going to have as a go-to resource. And if you LOVE finding recipes on Pinterest, I recommend creating your own go-to meal prep Pinterest board with only a limited number of recipes on it (I’d recommend somewhere between 10 and 20 recipes, depending on how much variety you like). That way, you’re forced to pin only the recipes you would actually cook! Constraint might feel limiting, but it will really help you stay out of overwhelm!
4. SCHEDULE A TIME TO COOK
I’ve found that one of the most important things when it comes to meal prepping is planning when to do it ahead of time! And by this I mean scheduling it like I would a catch up with a friend or an appointment. This makes a huge difference for a couple of reasons. The first is that if I wait until I ‘feel like it’ then it just won’t happen – I’m almost never in the mood for it! And the second is that time slips through my fingers when I haven’t made plans! I usually plan my meal prep for 3pm on Sunday afternoon, but over the last few weeks I’ve been playing around with when I do meal prep to see if there’s not something that will be even better!
Also I just want to mention that if your biggest struggle with meal prep is that you’re ‘too busy’ to do it, you could be self-sabotaging (especially if you’re not too busy for Netflix or Pinterest or reading blog posts like this….).
Like I spoke about earlier, you might be scared that you’ll still struggle with healthy eating even if you do your meal prep. So to avoid feeling like a failure, you procrastinate and fill your time with unimportant things so there’s a ‘legitimate reason’ you’re not eating healthy – you’re ‘too busy’. You don’t give yourself the chance to disappoint yourself but that means you also don’t give yourself the chance to succeed. I won’t say too much more about this in this post but if it sounds familiar, I definitely recommend signing up for my free 7-day perfectionism challenge!
5. SHOP WHEN IT’S CONVENIENT
This one’s pretty simple. I always try my best to go shopping when it’s most convenient instead of going for a special trip last minute. Once I’ve got my recipes I write up a shopping list. And once I’ve got my shopping list, I put it in my bag and wait until I have a couple more errands to run so I can do them all at the same time. As I said – simple. But it makes a difference!
But also, if buying the food immediately before you cook is the most convenient way to do it, then do that!
6. COOK WHEN YOU PLANNED TO COOK
This follows on from tip 4, but it’s extremely important that I cook when I actually planned to cook. I make the best plans for myself when I make them ahead of time, not when I make them in the moment. But even when I know I made a plan with my best intentions in mind, I often don’t feel like following through with it! And my brain will always offer me plenty of ‘logical’ reasons not to – I’m exhausted, I’m busy, it won’t be that hard to eat healthy this week. The excuses to avoid meal prep are endless!
It’s really important to do my meal prep when the time comes to do it, regardless of how I feel in that moment. This not only strengthens my self-discipline and willpower (which will make other habits easier too) but helps me create self-confidence and stay consistent! Though I’ll be honest – it does take a bit of practice!
7. STOP RESENTING IT
To be honest with you, even though meal prep is something that makes my whole week that much easier, I often find myself resenting it because I don’t feel like it’s ‘productive’. Instead of looking at the two hours as time I’m investing towards my health and an opportunity to get better at cooking, I find my brain chattering away about all the ‘productive’ things I’m being stopped from doing.
And this is really just fear talking. The only reason I want to feel ‘productive’ all the time is because I believe that if I do more and achieve more then I’ll be more. And now that I’m aware of that, I do my very best to stop the negative chatter in my mind around food prep by reminding myself that meal prep is an amazing use of my time! Resenting meal prep isn’t helpful and I’m doing my best to manage the thoughts that create that emotion but again – it does take a big of practice!
8. LEARN TO ENJOY IT
I’m not the biggest fan of cooking (I haven’t spent enough time in the kitchen to master the basics, so cooking makes me feel WAY out of my comfort zone). But I’ve found the experience has been so much better when I’ve actively tried to enjoy it. I put on Netflix, one of my favourite podcasts, a YouTube video or a Spotify playlist (depending on my mood) and I don’t let myself wish I was somewhere else. I enjoy being where I am, right there in the kitchen. And my life is so much better for it.
I find it’s really helpful to reflect on what worked well with my meal prep and what didn’t, so I can constantly improve it. While I’m doing my meal prep, and throughout the week, I think about what worked and what didn’t. What could I do to make things more streamlined? Did I look forward to eating my meals or find myself wanting to avoid them? I don’t have any kind of formal reflection practice, but I find that just thinking about it is a huge help!
10. KEEP AT IT
No matter how motivated you’re feeling right now, that feeling will soon fade. Don’t let your all-or-nothing mindset trick you into believing that it’s only worth doing meal prep if you can do it perfectly. Or that it’s only worth doing if you can do it every single week. Life will sometimes get in the way and that’s ok. Do your best to do it as often as you can, it’s much better than doing it perfectly when you’re motivated but then never again.
My Healthy Meal Prep Routine
Even though I’ve already shared a few insights into my healthy meal prep routine, I thought it might still be helpful to share exactly what I do below! Just so you know though – this isn’t my perfected meal prep routine! I’m still doing lots of playing around with it and figuring out what’s I want to cook and when I want to cook it, but I hope it helps!
What I eat
I’m pretty boring when it comes to food (I LOVE eating but I’m NOT a foodie!) so to make my meal prep as easy as possible, I found a meal that I liked eating and I cook it again and again and again.
It’s nothing special. Truly. I bake chicken in the oven with a few spices chucked on top and put in some sweet potato too. I serve it up into freezer-friendly dishes with a big serving of frozen veggies (my faves are broccoli and green beans) and freeze it all together, ready to defrost when I want them. Nothing special AT ALL. But I’ve found this works for me because the cooking is simple and hands-off (as it’s baking in the oven) and it requires very little decision making (since I make the same thing every time).
But I’ll be honest, lately this combo has been testing even my tolerance for boring food so lately I’ve been looking for new recipes to spice things up a little! I’m also working to change the way I approach cooking (I still find myself resenting it every now and again) so I’ve been trying to find recipes that require me to learn a few new things and get a basic understanding of what goes with what. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been loving Fit Men Cook (not sponsored). I also love scrolling through Pinterest, but I find this quite overwhelming. So I usually just stick with the Fit Men Cook website as it’s got more than enough (once I’ve grasped the basics I’ll probably start to branch out).
Also I won’t go into it too much, but to figure out what to eat I use the guidelines my personal trainer gave me (from memory I eat 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbs) and eat around 2,000 calories per day (which was calculated based on the amount of exercise I do). I’m not making any recommendations here around what you should do, I’m just sharing what works for me!
When I go shopping
As I mentioned earlier, I try to go food shopping when it’s most convenient. Which means it’s normally straight after work when I’m on my way home. I also try to make sure I’m not starving so I don’t pick up something I’ll regret!
When I cook
I usually do my meal prep on Sunday afternoon to set myself up for the week. The only problem with this is that I sometimes have plans on a Sunday afternoon and I haven’t been great at adapting when that happens (which means my meal prep doesn’t end up happening and I spend the whole week trying to scrape healthy meals together at the last minute).
Now that I’m not working full-time, I’m playing around with my meal prep cooking to see if it’s better to schedule meal prep into my calendar at a time that’s less likely to be disrupted – like Monday morning. I’ll keep you updated with how this goes but I’m honestly still figuring it all out!
What’s your meal prep routine?
So there you have it, my tips to make meal prep easy and my healthy meal prep routine! I hope you’ve found this post helpful and I’d love to hear your tips and routine in the comments below!