Let’s get an important distinction clear right away: weekly meal prep and food prep are not the same thing.

Meal prep is preparing entire meals for the week in advance.

Food prep is preparing individual food items in advance, making it easy to grab a snack or throwing together an impromptu meal. If you haven’t yet mastered this skill, head over to my post about food prep right here.

Planning and executing a week’s worth of meals is hard work. Not gonna lie. Now, add the stipulation that the meals are healthy and easy to make, and you’re heading into migraine territory. Head… migraine… see what I did there? Throw in a few picky eaters or little kids and you very well might want to hang your head and cry.

Ah… fear not, grasshopper. Help is here.

The time and effort you put into planning, shopping, prep, and cooking will pay off big-time. You’ll have healthier meals, less stress, and less time wasted panicking over what to eat. And once you do it for a few weeks in a row, it will become a habit and be even easier to do. Booyah.

It’s imperative to keep healthy food on hand so you don’t fall into easy, bad-for-you foods. I have personal experience with consistent shopping and meal prep leading to fat loss, and a scattered, devil-may-care approach to meal planning leading to no loss (or even the dreaded fat gain). My exercise stays constant so i know it’s the food.

On prep day, Hard-boil your eggs, bake a batch of mini-omelettes or healthy muffins. Grill the huge package of chicken you got from Costco, roast some vegetables, and make double batches of brown rice or quinoa.  Prepare your own tuna/chicken salad, so you can control the ingredients. Assemble these into containers for a healthy meal in a flash. When you’re done, you should have a collection that looks something like this:

 

Here is my plan from last week. You can find the recipes for all the starred* entries here on my website. The items that have double stars ** are from Sohailla Digsby, author of the awesome 52-Day Countdown.

If you’d like a copy of my meal plan sheet, with its handy shopping list sidebar, you can download it here.

If you just can’t abide the idea of making what’s planned for a specific day, or you’ve neglected to do the shopping, turn to your tried and true of stand-bys. Here’s a list of 12 easy meals that you should be able to pull together with ingredients from your pantry and stored whatever in your freezer.

Meal-planning can be whatever you make it to be. Perhaps rather than detailing out every breakfast, lunch and dinner, you just have 3-7 meals/ideas chosen with no days designated for them. You don’t need to limit yourself to a particular meal on a certain day. Start slowly, and give yourself some leeway – a little freedom can ease the transition from meal prep to full-blown meal planning.

In the end, meal-planning should not be something that we dread but something that we look upon as a tool for saving us time and money each month. And, as with everything in life, don’t let yourself get down if you drift from your plan or fall out of the habit of creating them. Just pick back up the next week and try again. There’s a perfect pep talk in Meal Prep for Newbies.

Sources for this article include Glowing Gazelles, Fit Mom Baltimore and Good Cheat Eats.

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