5 Tips for Meal Prep That Would Make Pinterest Proud

First time packing lunches? Sick of your PB&J routine? Ready to dive into the world of meal prepping but not sure how? Meal prepping is a great way to eat healthy throughout the week without spending extra time on cooking. Whether you're on a busy schedule or just want to cook less often, read on to learn how you can take your meal prep game to the next level.

1. Invest in some matching reusable containers.

You don't need to go out and buy the $50 million-piece matching glass set with locking lids, but get yourself a new set of matching meal-sized containers. You can easily find a simple, cheap five-pack in your grocery store for less than $5. If your Tupperware cabinet is the type that likes to turn into a black hole, you'll thank yourself later when you aren't rummaging around for the lid to the container you used to pack sandwiches in high school. Plus, it makes it easier to portion things out when each container is the same size. And let's be real...we can't deny the aesthetic appeal of a fully-prepped set of meals lined up in matching containers.

2. Become best friends with your grocery store.

If you aren't using your preferred grocery store's app or website, you're making a mistake. It's time to embrace a little bit of your inner "extreme couponer"! When planning out your meals for the week, it's wise to check your store's weekly circular to see what's on sale. Building your menu around store discounts can help save you some serious cash. Of course, you don't need to go crazy and only buy things when they're on sale! But a quick glance at a store flyer can be a great way to get a little inspiration while also being frugal. For instance, Kroger has rotisserie chickens on sale this week, so maybe it would be a good time to try a chicken salad recipe. Many apps also have coupons for different products, and sometimes there are even free items! 

Related: 8 Reasons to Download the Kroger App

3. Start off small.

If you're new to meal prepping, you don't want to start off by trying to tackle breakfast, lunch and dinner for seven day's worth of meals. An easy way to start off is to choose one dish and make 4-5 portions. You could eat your prepped option for lunch for half the week and save it for dinner for the other days. This helps combat the feeling of meal fatigue you get when you eat the same lunch for five days straight! It also can eliminate food waste because the extra flexibility makes it possible to say yes to a spontaneous lunch date without feeling guilty about the Tupperware in your fridge.

4. Bowl recipes will be your secret weapon.

Grain + vegetables + protein + a little something extra = a super-speedy wholesome meal that can easily be made in bulk. It can take some experimenting to figure out what you like, but once you've found a few favorites, bowl variations are an easy go-to. One great (and simple!) option is a Mediterranean-inspired bowl with couscous; chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers; your choice of chicken or chickpeas for protein; and a dollop of hummus or tzatziki on top. 

5. Expand your circle of inspiration.

Yes, Pinterest is a wonderful place, but it's not the only option. Next time you're at a doctor's appointment, try flipping through a food magazine and seeing what you could modify to make in a batch. Love a certain restaurant chain? See if you can find a copycat recipe, or better yet, make up your own! Salads and bowls at places like Panera, Sweetgreen, Cava, and more are often pretty easy to imitate with basic ingredients. Some of those chains even sell their dressings in stores! Or you can ask around in your group of friends or coworkers to see if anyone else is experimenting with meal prep (or cooking in general) as well. Sometimes it can be nice to know what a friend has tried instead of trusting a professional food blogger!

 

With these tips, you will be well on your way to professional food Instragrammer in no time. Happy prepping!