Your Future Self Will Thank You: A Beginner’s Guide to Meal Prepping

Healthy meal prep containers with quinoa, chicken and cole slaw overhead shot with copy space

Are you wondering how to meal prep? We’ve got you covered in this easy-to-understand, full-coverage “Meal Prep for Beginners” guide!

Whether you’re trying to make major gains in the gym, shed those pesky few pounds, or if your Seamless budget has just gotten out of control lately, you’ve decided to turn over a new leaf and start meal prepping. 

The only thing standing in your way? 

The fact that you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. 

No matter your level of cooking skills, the kind of diet you adhere to, or what your fitness and weight loss goals are, learning how to meal prep is much easier than you might think. 

Consider this your ultimate meal prep guide — and get ready to start uploading pictures of your delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to social media. 

1. Invest in High-Quality Containers

The first thing you need to know about learning how to meal prep?

The kinds of containers you use to store your meals in will make all the difference. We strongly suggest investing in glass containers that have a few different compartments/dividers for side dishes. 

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First of all, glass containers are a lot more environmentally-friendly than disposable ones. 

But glass containers are also much safer than plastic options, especially if you’re planning on reheating your meals in the microwave. 

It might sound silly at first, but having cute and fun containers (and knowing you’ve made an investment in them) is also a great way to keep you accountable to your new meal prepping lifestyle. 

2. Get Smart About Grocery Shopping

Your grocery shopping strategy is probably the most important part of meal prepping. 

Before you head out, make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need — and buy in bulk whenever possible to save money. 

Make sure that you buy ingredients that will keep fresh for about seven days, or that you cook with ingredients that can be safely frozen without losing their flavor. 

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Veggies like onions, tomatoes, squash, and corn all freeze especially well. Of course, proteins like meat and chicken will also stay fresh in your freezer. 

Check out this super helpful list of the best foods that you can freeze — and the ones that you shouldn’t. 

3. Designate a Meal Prep Day

When you’re just starting to learn how to meal prep for the week, it’s always best to just dedicate one day to the whole process (of course, it won’t take all day.) 

After all, the whole point of meal prepping is to save you time. So, if you’re constantly running to the grocery store, cooking, and chopping, it’s not worth it. 

We suggest making Sunday afternoon/evening your meal prep time. 

Decide on your recipes, make your ingredients list, head to the store, and come home and cook. 

You’ll be surprised by how quickly you’re able to fall into a routine. Before you know it, you’ll actively look forward to the time you spend meal prepping. 

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4. Give Yourself Options 

One of the most common meal prep for beginners mistakes? 

Cooking and having the same meal for both lunch and dinner, for almost the entire week. Variety isn’t just the spice of life. If you keep eating the same thing over and over again, you won’t get the nutrients you need. 

You’ll also be way less enthusiastic about meal prepping in the future. 

Though, yes, it means a little bit of extra work for yourself on your meal prep day, consider making at least two different kinds of meal options.

When you’re starting out, you need to build up some confidence in your cooking skills, and practice makes perfect. Commit to trying one new recipe each week. You can build up from there as your progress. 

6. Learn About Portions

Portion control is also an important part of any meal prep guide. 

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Even if you’re eating healthy food, if you’re eating double or even triple the healthy amount, you won’t lose weight or feel all that great.

Plus, portion control ensures that you won’t blow through your entire meal preps for the week in two days. 

Make sure that about 1/3 to 1/2 of your entire meal is made up of vegetables. Proteins should be about the size of your closed fist. When possible (if the goal is to lose weight) keep proteins lean — think chicken, fish, or seitan. 

Aim to include whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, peas, or potatoes as a side dish, too. 

7. Go for Easy Recipes at First

Finally, when you’re first learning how to prep meals, remember to look for options that have as few ingredients as possible. 

In addition to being easier on your wallet, making simple meals makes the idea of meal prep feel like less of a chore. 

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Surprisingly, there’s a seriously active meal prepping community online. Check out your favorite chat forums, follow preppers on Instagram, or even connect with meal prep bloggers to get recipes that even you can figure out.  

Learning How to Meal Prep Is Easier Than You Think

We hope this post has helped you to realize that understanding how to meal prep is something that anyone, regardless of your lifestyle, budget, or culinary interests, can pull off. 

It’s not just about looking and feeling good — it’s also about understanding how foods can boost your energy levels.  

Looking for more tips and tricks on meal prepping? Curious about the kinds of workouts that will help you to achieve your fitness goals? 

Whether you’re looking to improve your physical or mental health, keep checking back in with our blog for more advice on how to be your best self every day. 

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