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Meal prep can save you time, money, and calories. Here are 5 easy steps to get it done.

Short on time but want to get a delicious meal on the table? Trying to cut down on food expenses? Looking for ways that make it easier to eat healthier or lose weight? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to jump on the meal-prepping bandwagon. Planning out meals and prepping food in advance can go a long way toward helping you save time and money. As an added bonus, it makes it easier to meet your weight loss and healthy eating goals!

Social media is filled with posts of people sharing their favorite meal-prep ideas and hacks. They make meal prep look so enticing that it seems well worth the effort to make it part of your lifestyle, too. Whether you’re wooed by cool food storage containers or you just love the idea of knowing there’s always healthy food that’s ready to grab when you’re hungry, there are many good reasons to perfect your meal prep skills.

Ready to get started? Here are a few meal prep basics:
  1. Plan your menu. Before you start shopping, chopping, and cooking, you need to start planning. Set aside time to plan out meals and snacks. It’s helpful to find recipes that use some of the same ingredients so you can prep those ingredients all at once for multiple meals. This can also save you money by reducing food waste.
  2. Make time to prep. Set aside a day, or even a few hours, to get your food prepped. Some people like to prep a whole week’s worth of meals and snacks. Others find that too overwhelming, especially when they’re new to meal prepping. You may want to prep a few days or even just a few meals at a time, especially when you’re just starting out.
  3. Get ready to prep. On the day of meal prep, take out any kitchen utensils and tools you’ll need to use. Measuring cups and a food scale can make it easier to portion food into individual servings. Some people like to invest in special storage containers, but there’s no need to do so. As long as you have a way to store what you prep, you’re good to go.
  4. Prioritize your tasks. You can fully cook meals so they’re ready to reheat and eat. Or you may prefer to just do the prep work – the cleaning, dicing, and slicing – so you can quickly put together a meal when you need it. Whatever your preference, cook foods that take the longest and do the most time-consuming tasks to make the most of your meal prep efforts.
  5. Have some fun. Meal prep can make your life easier throughout the week, but there’s no reason for the act of meal prepping to be a chore. Enlist the help of family members, turn on some music, and have some fun. You’ll not only feel accomplished after a few hours of meal prepping, but hopefully, you’ll enjoy yourself in the process. Then savor the rewards of your labor – easy to grab healthy food when you’re short on time and feeling hungry!

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Date Last Reviewed: March 30, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RDN, CLT

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