6 Rules to Properly Meal Prep for the Week

Different foods and vegetables on table
Trent Lanz/Stocksy United

Don't resort to frozen meals and drive-thru dinners during your busy week—take some time to prep on Saturday or Sunday, and you can feed yourself healthy meals and snacks all week long! I'm Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien, and I'm here with six tips for weekend meal prep.

1. Hit the grocery store with a detailed list.

Step one: Supermarket. Carve out a couple of hours for making a grocery list and hitting the store.

Before you head out, put together a comprehensive list of everything you need: Think about breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Make it your goal to ​never make a midweek trip to the supermarket! Trust me, your frazzled Wednesday night self will be grateful to your super-organized Sunday self. Once your list is complete, get shopping—remember to have a meal or snack first. It's never a good idea to shop when you're hungry, rushed, or distracted. That's when impulse buys happen!

2. Break out the cutting board, and chop up some veggies.

When you come home on a weeknight after a long day, or wake up late for a jam-packed workday, there's nothing you feel less like doing than chopping up vegetables. But chopping isn't such a chore when you do it all at once on a weekend day. Go for versatile vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions. Then, use the fruits (er, veggies) of your labor for midweek meals!

Think morning egg scrambles, afternoon salads, evening stir-frys... So smart. Bonus: Cut up some veggie strips to snack on with salsa for dipping—these will save you when you come home famished!

3. Whip up make-ahead meals.

Cook once; eat for days! That's the appeal of big-batch recipes that can be made in advance.

Here are some of my favorites. For the single-serve recipes, just make several at once.

4. Treat yourself to a snazzy collection of food-storage containers.

Weekend meal prep is impossible without the proper containers. Invest in several different shapes and sizes of food-storage containers. You'll also want sealable plastic bags, foil, and plastic wrap. Put everything you've prepped in its own container, and label, label, label: List what it is and when you made it. This way, you'll know exactly what's in each container and how fresh it is.

5. Cook up a pound or more of your favorite lean protein.

Lean ground turkey, shrimp, extra-lean ground beef, skinless chicken breast. All great. Keep the seasonings simple, so that you can add your ready-to-eat protein to a variety of dishes. Top off salads, use it in tacos, make a lunch wrap—the possibilities are endless! And when you're really pressed for time on weeknights, just steam some of those chopped veggies in the microwave, add protein and sauce, and microwave until hot.

Easy peasy.

6. Create your own portion-controlled snacks.

I'm a big believer in always having smart snacks on hand—they keep you satisfied between meals and can prevent overeating. One of the best things you can do to keep your healthy weekday diet on track is create your own 100-calorie snack packs. Buy your snacks in bulk, and then assemble the single-serve packs yourself. It's cheaper than stocking up on store-bought 100-calorie packs, that's for sure! Quick 100-calorie ideas: 14 almonds, 25 pistachios, or 1.25 oz. jerky. Stash 'em in your desk drawer, your car, your purse—anywhere you're likely to find yourself in need of a nutrient boost. 

For more tips 'n tricks, plus guilt-free recipes, food finds, and more, sign up for free daily emails at hungry-girl.com!

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