This post may contain affiliate links. Please see disclaimer and disclosure policy for more information.
Easy meal prep? Where was this at on my first day?
Meal prepping can be kinda scary at first. I remember the first day I meal prepped for myself and my boyfriend. It was chaos. It took probably about 4 hours to do allll this. By the end of it, the kitchen was a disaster, I was exhausted, aggravated, and putting the food away and cleaning up was the last thing I wanted to do.
Here’s the instagrammable result:
Yeah, I made everything look presentable. Somewhat. But what y’all can’t see is the sink full of dishes and mess on the other side of the kitchen.
I tried to do too many things at once. I was overwhelmed. Like, I was thinking “Do I really need to do this every week? Is being fit and healthy really worth all this BS?” Yes to both.
Meal prepping got way easier as time passed and I got more practice.
So, yes it’s totally worth it. But it shouldn’t have to be that hard, time consuming, or messy.
It doesn’t have to be.
Over time, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. How to meal prep as quickly as possible because we gots other things do be doin.
Like lay around and watch HGTV.
Don’t waste your whole day off in the kitchen. These are my top meal prep tips to help make your meal prep day a breeze.
1. Use frozen veggies.
Yeah yeah.. fresh is best. But frozen is good too, and it’s good when you’re short on time. I like to buy the steamable bags of veggies. Just 5 minutes in the microwave and done! And they’re pretty dang cheap too. That’s a win if you’re on a budget.
2. Prep veggies ahead of time.
If you’re a fresh veggie snob, nothin wrong with that ;).. prepare your vegetables ahead of time. Like if you go shopping on Saturday and meal prep on Sunday, cut up some veggies when you get back from the store.
This’ll make things a lot easier when Sunday rolls around.
3. Invest in helpful kitchen tools.
Ok, you get it. But these things work! A mandoline slices up a cucumber in just a fraction of the time it would take with a regular ol’ knife.
Want some zoodles? Thank you spiralizer.
Diced bell peppers and onions? Food processor.
These gadgets cut down on time so much, they’re not expensive, and they do their job.
4. Clean as you go.
Wash a few dishes while your food is in the oven. Wipe down the counters before the gross stuff dries on there and it’s a HUGE pain to scrub off.. ugh.
Cleaning up here and there as you’re cooking minimizes the pile of dishes you’re magically creating. It seems like magic doesn’t it? Because they all pile up so fast!
5. Don’t clean as you go.
Ok, I know I sound crazy and contradicting, but I’m for real.
When I say don’t clean as you go I mean don’t stop what you’re doing to clean something that can wait. One of my first time consuming mistakes was when I was peeling sweet potatoes to chop up to roast in the oven, I kept on dropping peeling all over the floor. I was constantly picking up potato peeling while I was trying to peel some more! Why did I do that knowing I was going to keep making the same mess?
The smart thing would have been to sweep up AFTER I got the sweet potatoes in the oven.
Clean up in between tasks, not during.
6. Broil or bake your meats.
I like to broil frozen turkey burgers, and a lot of em. As many as I can fit on a pan!
I can fit up to 8 burgers on a baking sheet at a time, compared to 3-4 on the stove. Or better yet, use TWO pans! Using a regular grill is a great idea too, but ya know.. apartment rules.
Pile chicken, well not pile. Place chicken on baking sheets or whateva you choose, put it in the oven, then forget it! No, don’t do that either. Please don’t forget it.
7. Line your pans!
I use baking sheets all the time for meal prep. Lining them with foil makes it way easier to clean up. Just peel off and throw away! I hate scrubbing burnt on crusty stuff.
Washing dishes sucks, line your pans.
8. Sheet pan meal.
Back to sheet pans again. They’re amazing for a whole meal! I can prepare 5 meals at a time in my oven. Chopped vegetables and chicken sausage has been my go-to sheet pan meal lately. Yummy!
There are tons of varieties you can come up with for a one pan meal. Steak with sliced peppers and onions, sausages with sweet potatoes and zucchini, chicken with broccoli and red potatoes. Or just veggies! You can come up with literally anything.
9. Make your oven do double duty.
Roast veggies and bake chicken at the same time. You can do more than one thing at a time, just watch your timers! Don’t get too crazy though, make sure everything fits in there at the same time. I’ve obviously ran into that problem once or twice.
One day I’ll have my dream double oven.
10. Get some good containers.
Stop carrying three different containers to work all for the same meal. I used to do this and geez, was it annoying. One huge container for salad, a smaller one for the stuff that needs to be microwaved, and a teeny tiny salad dressing container. Not to mention the one I had my oatmeal in for breakfast. Containers falling out of my bag, more dishes to wash. No thank you.
We got some three compartment meal prep containers. One of the best purchases ever. Amazon is where it’s at y’all. Raise tha roof.
We have had these containers for almost a whole year and they have held up very nicely, despite being used every week!
I hope that these tips help make your meal prep super easy peasy, so you’ll have more time to hit the gym, go for a walk, or watch Fixer Upper. I’m guilty of choosing the latter from time to time. Hey, we all need some down time!
What are your meal prep days? Mine are usually Sundays! But once in a while, I’ll feel inspired to cook on a Saturday.
Happy Meal Prep!