Did you know that people who meal prep are more likely to have food variety in their diet and adhere to nutritional guidelines?
There are so many benefits that come with meal prepping, but it can be hard to know where to start. We’ve created this guide so you can learn how to create a meal plan without breaking the bank and without spending your entire weekend in the kitchen.
People tend to be overwhelmed by the idea of a budget-friendly meal plan. If you’ve never meal prepped before it can be stressful, especially if you don’t know how to do it efficiently.
There’s also the misconception that meal prepping has to take hours and hours. However, if done right, it doesn’t have to take long at all.
Continue reading for all the information you need about creating a weekly meal plan!
Once you start focusing on diet and exercise, including good sources of protein in your meals, and having a plan, you will notice a big difference in your life. However, getting started is the hardest part.
In order to avoid getting overwhelmed when you’re learning how to plan meals, which could lead to quitting and ordering takeout, you’re going to start small.
The first time you meal prep, you don’t have to make every meal you’re going to eat throughout the week. Start by prepping some healthy snacks you can take to work. You may want to start by planning out lunch for the first three or four days of the week.
Begin where you feel comfortable. Then the next week add a little more.
Maybe you’ll want to prep lunch for the entire week instead of just a few days. Or you could prep breakfast for half the week.
There aren’t any rules when it comes to meal prepping. It’s not an all-or-nothing thing.
Meal prepping will be more difficult if you’re disorganized. If you have no idea what’s in your kitchen or pantry, you’ll either be missing something you need or spend extra money on an item you already have.
The goal of meal prepping is to save time and money. You can’t do either if your kitchen and pantry are a mess. Take some time to organize things so you know exactly what you have and what you don’t.
Using the best meal planning software will help you stay organized and is a great tool even if you’ve been meal prepping for years. You’ll be able to build recipes, get meal ideas, track your nutrient goals, and much more.
Invest in Food Containers
We all know how easy it is to lose container lids. While you’re prepping your meals for the week, if you’re constantly having to look for a Tupperware or food container, you’re going to get frustrated.
Buying high-quality food containers is going to make the process much easier. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but you’ll be thankful you made the purchase when all your containers have matching lids.
When you’re making your purchase, be sure to think about what you’re going to be using them for. Do you plan to freeze meals? Are they microwave and dishwasher-safe?
These are factors you need to consider before making your decision.
Stock Up on Basics
The next thing is stocking up on the basics that you’ll likely be using every week that don’t go bad or expire very quickly. For example cooking oils, baking soda and powder, and even canned goods.
It’s always convenient to have those items stocked up. It will make going to the grocery store and planning more efficient because you’ll only have to pick up fresh items.
You’ll also want to get a variety of different species, you don’t want to be eating the same flavors for every meal, every week, so having options is key.
Look In Your Pantry
When you’re sitting down to plan your meals, be sure to look through your pantry. You may find items that are about to expire that you need to use first.
Thoroughly checking what items you have before going to the store will help you save a lot of money. The last thing you want is for your food to go bad because you forget about it.
Looking through your pantry can also give you some meal items for the upcoming week.
Meal prepping requires time. While you don’t have to spend a whole day cooking, you will need to schedule some time out at the beginning or end of the week to prep.
You’ll need time to write out a list, go to the store, and then you’ll need to schedule a time to do the cooking. To make the process easier, consider making your meal-prepping schedule consistent from week to week.
Many people choose Sundays to do their meal prepping, but you don’t have to. If you work the weekends, maybe Monday is a good day for your efficient meal planning and cooking. Having consistency can really make it a lot easier, so keep that in mind.
Batch cooking is very popular when you’re learning how to create a meal plan and execute it. If you cook everything at once, you don’t have the excuse after a long day to order in. Your meals will already be ready, making it easy to rest after your busy day.
Consider making large amounts of food such as rice, roasted potatoes, and veggies. You can also cook all your meat at once to make things easier.
Prep Fruits and Vegetables
How many times have you bought fruits and vegetables and they sit in your fridge until they go bad? It’s okay, you don’t have to tell us, we’ve all been there.
One of the many benefits of meal plans and prepping in advance is that you can avoid this. During your prep, be sure to wash and chop your produce.
This will make it easier for you later in the week and reduce the risk of them going bad before you can use them. You’ll also be more likely you reach for those items as a snack if they are already cut and washed.
If you’re short on time, you do have the option to buy pre-cut fruits and vegetables. This will increase your bill, but it can be helpful if you have an extra busy week.
Make a List
Before going to the store, be sure you have a list. If you don’t, you’ll likely forget an item. This will make meal prepping much harder and time-consuming, as you’ll have to either do without the ingredient or go back to the store.
Don’t Shop Hungry
It’s vital that you don’t grocery shop when you’re hungry. You will end up buying items that you don’t need and spending more money than you planned. It’s easy to be tempted when you haven’t eaten, so be sure to go shopping with a full stomach.
Vary Your Menu Use
It’s easy to let your meals become bland and boring. When you’re trying to be healthy, whether that means gaining or losing weight, you don’t want to always eat the same things.
You’ll get tired of the same flavors which could lead to you binging and losing track of your goals. There are plenty of ways you can change your meals while still keeping them simple.
If you cook a lot of rice, maybe try quinoa. Easy changes like this can make a big difference and will ultimately help you stay on track with your nutrition goals.
Different Cooking Methods
When you’re learning how to create a meal plan be sure to utilize different cooking methods. This will add variety, but it will also help speed up the meal-prepping process.
For example, you can put some chicken in a slow roaster or crock pot while you cook ground beef on the stove and roast vegetables in the oven. Using an air fryer is another great option.
How to Create a Meal Plan
Learning how to create a meal plan doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can take some time. For the first few weeks, you may want to give yourself some extra time to plan. However, the more you do it the easier it’ll become.
Efficient meal planning can make your life so much easier. It’ll save you time during the week and will alleviate some stress.
We have a lot of resources and products on our site that can help you as you learn how to plan meals. Sign up for a free trial to test out the best meal planning software out there for your business