Meal Prep: 7 Tips for Beginners

Woman preparing a healthy salad in the kitchen.

Meal prepping is trending now. And why shouldn’t it be when a home-cooked meal is better than a burger on the go? 

The main arguments in favor of meal prepping:

  • True to the motto “abs are made in the kitchen,” homemade meals are more balanced and healthier. You know exactly what you are putting into your body. 
  • It saves you time during the week.
  • Prepping meals is cheaper than eating out.
  • You are prepared to fight cravings with healthy snacks.
  • Many people find cooking relaxing and a good chance to unwind.

What is the best way to meal prep? Take time one or two nights a week (for instance, Wednesday and Sunday) and prepare snacks and meals for those long workdays. Need more guidance? We have seven tips for you on meal prepping:

7 meal prep tips:

1. Cook big portions

The simplest tip first: start cooking bigger portions! Having sweet potato curry on Sunday? Make two or three extra servings; that way you already have tomorrow’s lunch without any additional effort.

Additionally, cook your sides like quinoa or pasta ahead of time. You can store any leftovers in the fridge and use them the next day in a salad, for instance.

Image of an healthy salad.

2. Optimal storage

Always have enough containers in the house for storage and transportation, but keep your hands off plastic. Look for environmentally friendly (or BPA-free) alternatives instead. Glass bottles are good for transporting smoothies, jars are great for overnight oats with fruit or nuts and stainless steel cans are good for salads or curries.

3. Smoothie to go

Did you oversleep and now you’re running late? A smoothie only takes minutes to prepare and can replace one of your daily meals. Cut up some fruit and vegetables, divide them into meal-sized portions and freeze them if you want. This allows you to store them for a long time without losing their valuable vitamins and minerals. Just mix the ingredients together in the morning and your healthy breakfast is ready in no time!

Did you know?

Frozen fruit and veggies often contain even more micronutrients than fresh products. Transport, storage, and overcooking leads to a loss of vitamins. When you’re buying fresh fruits and vegetables, look for local, seasonal foods and prepare them well.

4. Hard-boiled eggs from the oven

Eggs are a great source of valuable protein and vitamins; make sure they’re on your healthy shopping list.The hard-boiled version is a great way to pep up salads or avoid food cravings as a snack. The problem is that most pots only hold up to five eggs. But, you can get around this by baking them in the oven. It’s quite easy to do: Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Fill a muffin pan with twelve eggs and bake them in the oven for about 30 minutes. That’s it! Now you have a dozen hard-boiled eggs to use as you please.

Close up of boiled eggs.

5. The freezer is your friend

Have you cooked too much but don’t want to eat leftovers all week long? No problem: Many foods (curries, stews and soups) are easy to freeze in meal-sized portions.

6. Healthy snacks for in between meals

We are often tempted to reach for sweets in the afternoon. Your body needs quick energy on long workdays. Be prepared for these cravings: Fill some jars at home with nuts, (dried) fruit or dark chocolate. Or, whip up a big batch of energy balls on Sunday for the coming week. These help you beat the afternoon slump (and don’t ruin your figure).

A closeup cropped shot of a woman's hand putting sliced fruits into a blender

7. Variety is the spice of life

Do you eat the same thing every day? That can get boring pretty quickly! Meal prepping can help you eat well and add a little variety to your diet. 

Helpful Tip:

Prepare individual ingredients you can combine as you like. Grilled chicken or tofu goes well with rice and broccoli, but it also tastes good in a mixed salad.

One more thing: It’s okay if you don’t feel like doing meal prep one day or you prefer to eat lunch in a restaurant with a coworker. Just make sure to stick with your healthy routine on the other days of the week. 

Takeaway:

If you want to eat well and follow a balanced diet, meal prepping will help you do it. Plus, you’ll save time and money doing it. 

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Julia Denner As a dietitian, Julia wants to inspire others to eat a healthy and balanced diet. She loves cooking, being outdoors, and does yoga and strength training to relax. View all posts by Julia Denner »