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Since moving out and going off to University, one of the biggest health tips I consistently preach is doing meal prep. In a nutshell, meal prep is essentially making a ton of leftovers and dividing it up in containers to have for the rest of the week. My friends always joke about me and my meal prep, but it’s honestly one of the best things I started doing for my health since being in University. Personally, I find I am more likely to make unhealthy decisions when I am running late for a class and need to make a quick dinner. Usually, students turn to frozen meals or take out, but meal prep can be as simple as popping the container in the microwave and heading out the door. In this article, I will be sharing my beginner’s guide to meal prep so you can use it as a tool to get started, I will also be sharing some of my favourite recipes to help you get inspired!

Before I start, you should know that meal prep can mean different things for different people. For instance, I personally only meal prep my dinners, but I know more hardcore people who like to meal prep every single meal. It’s really all up to your personal preference and what you choose to do. 

Cost + Time

A lot of people tend to shy away from the idea of doing meal prep because they think it is really expensive and takes a lot of time. On the contrary, meal prep can actually save you tons of time and money. If you are strategic about it, you can make a week’s worth of healthy meals for around $20. As for the concern with time, if you set aside about 2 hours on a day you have time and just cook all of your food, it will save you so much time cooking every night. 


The first thing you should think about investing in when beginning to meal prep is some good quality containers. I recommend getting at least enough to last you a week and make sure that they are microwave and dishwasher safe. These are the ones I personally use, they are BPA free and specifically designed for meal prep. You can find a bunch of others for relatively cheap, it’s all up to your personal preference. 


A huge tip I have for meal prep beginners is to plan all of your meals in advance. I personally like to shop for my groceries on a weekly basis, so I usually plan to make two meals for that week: one that will last 3 days, and one that will last 4 days. I definitely recommend meal prepping for around up to 4 meals at a time, so that your food isn’t going bad. There are tons of meal prep recipes and inspiration online, I personally love using Pinterest to get inspiration. Once I find the recipes I want to make for that week, I will write out my grocery list, down to the individual ingredients I need. As I said before, depending on what you plan to make your meals can actually be extremely cheap. For example, one of my favourite recipes covers 4 dinners, and costs a total of around $12 to make; that’s only $3 per meal!


My favourite meals to prep in advance are Copycat Chipotle Burrito Bowls, Fajitas, and Butter Chicken. These are recipes that I will rotate between every week and know that I love, once you get into a routine and figure out what you like meal prepping can be a breeze. 

Copycat Chipotle Burrito Bowls (cost - around $15 total)

Inspired by one of my favourite places to grab a quick bite, this meal prep recipe is a lot more cost-effective and so so much better for you. You can definitely customize this however you’d like, but this is my personal favourite way to make them.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1LB Lean ground turkey
  • 1 Can of corn 
  • 1 Can of black beans
  • 1 Packet of low-sodium taco seasoning
  • Pico de Gallo (home-made or pre-made)
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 Pack of Uncle Ben’s Instant Brown Rice


  • Cook ground turkey in a pan, and add taco seasoning
  • Wash and drain corn and black beans
  • Microwave instant rice
  • Assemble bowls with Pico de Gallo, and garnish with a lime wedge on each!

Fajitas (cost - around $15)

These fajitas are a classic and are extremely easy to make. Again, you can easily customize these however you would like.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 Bell peppers of your choice (I recommend 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 orange)
  • 1 Large yellow onion
  • 10 Small tortillas
  • 1 Packet of low-sodium fajita seasoning
  • 1 Large tomato, or a container of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 LB of lean ground turkey or chicken


  • Thinly slice peppers and onion, and stay them in a pan with ½ of the fajita seasoning
  • Cook lean ground meat and add ½ fajita seasoning
  • Chop tomatoes, and add to a separate container
  • Portion meat and veggies into containers
  • Heat and add into tortillas, and garnish with tomatoes

Butter Chicken (cost - around $18)

This recipe is super simple, and by swapping out regular rice with cauliflower rice, it’s pretty healthy too!

What You’ll Need:

  • 4-5 large boneless skinless chicken breasts  
  • 1 Large jar of butter chicken sauce
  • 1 Large cauliflower
  • 2-3 Large pieces of naan bread (I like to use garlic naan)


  • Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes and stir fry in a pot for 5 mins
  • Add jar of butter chicken sauce, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked
  • Mince cauliflower into rice-sized pieces, and satay with seasonings of your choice
  • Assemble chicken and cauliflower into containers
  • Microwave and enjoy with naan 

There you have it! Those are the basics every beginner should know when getting into meal prep, and maybe you got some recipe inspo aswell! I hope this article was helpful if you are someone who has been curious about meal prep - happy prepping!

Nicola George

U Ottawa '21

2nd year English student at uOttawa. Dreams of becoming either the next Carrie Bradshaw or Elle Woods (or both).
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