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There are many reasons to start a meal prepping plan for yourself. Maybe you want to eat less takeout or delivery food, or spend less on groceries. Whatever the reason, a little bit of meal prepping can help you save time and money, and even encourage healthy eating habits. Check out some of the prepping for beginners tips below to get started.

What Is Meal Prepping?

There’s no big secret. Meal prepping is exactly what it sounds like – a planned or prepared meal. The only difference is that you prepare larger portions of a recipe so that you have multiple meals ready to eat again for lunch or dinner, usually over several days.

This means that you may only need to cook once in order to eat multiple times during the week. All you need to do is plan ahead, and make sure you have containers to store all your extra portions. These are your make-ahead meals. They can be frozen or refrigerated and then reheated throughout the week.

The Benefits Of Meal Prepping

Meal Prepping Can Help Save You Time

Cooking and shopping are time consuming. If you spend two or three hours every night at the store and in the kitchen, then you’re spending 15-20 hours a week preparing meals.

By making practical and concise meal plans, you can cut those hours down significantly. A well-planned grocery list allows you to make only one or two trips to the store a week. Additionally, meal prepping means cooking in bulk, so you’ll cook less often significantly reducing time spent in the kitchen.

Meal Prepping Might Help You Save Money

Have you ever found yourself at the grocery store grabbing random items from the shelf you hadn’t planned on getting?

Going to the grocery store with a planned meal in mind can encourage you to buy only the things you need and prevent your grocery bill from spiraling out of control.

Also, by taking planned meals to work for lunch, or having them ready for dinner, you’ll feel less inclined to spend money eating out. A recent study by Forbes found that the average take-out meal costs five times as much as making a homemade meal.1

Meal Prepping Can Help You Make Healthy Choices

Meal prepping allows you to plan healthy meals ahead of time so you don’t resort to going to the drive through during your lunch break or ordering take out for dinner. When you prepare your own food, you know exactly what kind of ingredients are in it, and can therefore avoid or significantly reduce the amount of sugar and unhealthy fats in your diet. In addition to helping you control what you eat, meal prepping can also help you control portion sizes.

Meal Prep For Beginners: Tips And Tricks

Below you can find some specific tricks to help get your meal prep underway.

Start Simple

Keep everything simple. Plan meals that you already know how to cook. Then, double or triple the quantity that you normally make. Familiarity with your meals and ingredients will save you time in the grocery store and in the kitchen. Once you get a good system in place, then you can start to expand your repertoire.

Planning Is Paramount

A solid plan is the backbone of meal prep. Follow these basic steps to build your meal plan:

  1. Plan – Write down what you want to prepare for the week or month.
  2. Recipes – Find recipes for all the meals you want to make.
  3. Grocery List – Write a list down with all the ingredients from all your recipes. This is your shopping list. Let it guide your shopping at the grocery store.
  4. Make A Schedule – Schedule a convenient time to cook. If you’re feeling ambitious, and you have enough room in the freezer, you could make multiple meals for the entire week.

Write A Manageable Shopping List

Write out a shopping list for the week, so you can limit your trips to the grocery store. Try to overlap ingredients in recipes to keep your grocery list as simple as possible. If you have two or three recipes that call for the same vegetables, like onions and carrots, then you can keep your list shorter and easier to tackle.

The Slow Cooker Can Be Your Best Friend

It’s time to bust out that Instant Pot or slow cooker. These are great tools for preparing meals ahead of time. A slow cooker allows you to make a big batch of food while you’re away from the kitchen.

All you need to do is add your ingredients, turn it on, and come back a few hours later to a perfectly cooked pot of vegetables or meat.

Tip – When making soups or stocks, try using a water filter for any water you use in the slow cooker for extra clean flavors.

Meal Prep For Beginners: Storage

You made all your extra portions, now where do you put it all? The next step in your meal prep is figuring out how to properly store your food. Try some of these options for food storage.

Individual Serving-Size Storage Containers

Invest in some quality storage containers for your new meal prep regimen. Choose containers that make measuring portions easy. Also, glass containers are generally a good option because you can easily reheat and clean them. Glass is usually more airtight as well.2

Freezing Portions

Soups, sauces, and lots of other things can all be frozen after cooking. Fill your plastic or glass containers with anything you want to save for much later.

When freezing food, make sure that you portion it out to exact serving sizes. This way, you only pull out what you plan to eat for one meal, instead of defrosting everything.

Freeze-Dried Food

Take your preservation of food one step further with freeze-dried food. This is the ultimate form of long-term food storage. If you want to make a survival kit, freeze drying is the way to go. It preserves food and its nutrients longer than any other method. One study found that a freeze-dried orange would still be edible and healthy for up to 10 years.3

Meal Prep Ideas To Get You Started

Try one of these easy recipes to get a good start on your new meal plan.

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

This makes about six servings.


  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 3 pounds chicken breasts cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock or water


  1. In a pan over medium heat, cook the onions until soft (about 3 minutes). Add sliced garlic and ginger, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add ground cumin, turmeric, paprika, salt, and tomato paste, and stir over heat for another minute.
  2. In a slow cooker, add chicken pieces and the mixture from the pan. Pour in the chicken stock or water and coconut milk. Stir everything, and cover. Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for 4-5 hours, or until the chicken is tender.
  3. Serve with rice, and portion out the remaining food for future meals.

Sheet Pan Sausage With Veggies

This serves about four. Increase the portions accordingly.


  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 4 sweet peppers seeded and sliced into 2-inch strips
  • 1 onion sliced into chunks
  • 1 pound of small tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves sliced thin
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. salt


  1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. On a baking dish add your sausage, peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and salt. Mix everything together until well coated with olive oil.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the sausage is cooked all the way through and the vegetables are nicely charred. If the vegetables cook too fast, cover the dish with foil.
  4. Serve and save the remaining food for future meals in pasta or on sandwiches.

Start Your Meal Prep Today

At the end of the day, you don’t need a fancy plan or intricate recipes. You can prepare something as simple as hard-boiled eggs for a quick breakfast throughout the week.

What’s most important is that you plan ahead, make a good grocery list, and store everything properly.

This will help free up all kinds of time for you during the week and ensure that you’re still eating healthy, delicious food.

Learn More:
What Are Some Of The Most Healthy Foods To Eat Every Day?
Older Adults: What Should You Avoid Eating?
Top Benefits Of Healthy Eating And A Balanced Diet