How do I meal prep?

#meal prep. It’s a continually trending hashtag, with over seven million uses on Instagram.

Creating a plan is really the single most important piece to executing your nutritional goals.  It ranks right up there with personal accountability.

But it is freakin’ hard.  It’s hard to carve out the time and to know what the heck you actually need to buy, how much to cook, and even how to cook it all. It’s completely overwhelming.

So what do most people do?

They skip it.

But not YOU. You won’t skip out on it. Because you are here.

I am breaking down meal prep into 4 simple steps that will take away your overwhelm and will save you time. It’s devoted to helping you take away the barriers to your success and help you find simple ways to execute prep and get more whole, real foods into your day.

You do not have to do it ALL right out of the gate.  As you read, you can find what works for you and ease into the process of meal prep.  Pick the parts that work into your life and slowly add in more aspects over time. This first part is to help you start to organize your meal prep.

If you are ready to take the next step, you can buy my Meal Prep Hero guide RIGHT NOW that will dive into these steps in more depth, walk you through a sample week of meal prep from start to finish AND give you 2 weeks worth of more ideas for planning.  BONUS: it will also provide you a grocery shopping and meal planning template.

I want all the other stuff in the Meal Prep Hero Guide!

Benefits of meal prepping

There are many great benefits to making meal prep a habit, including:

Saves a dollar, dollar bill Y’all

Yep, that’s right.  When you prep in volume you end up avoiding those last minute stops at the grocery store where you buy too many unused ingredients for one meal.  When you organize your meal prep, you can use multiple ingredients across multiple meals, thus saving you money. AND if you get great at DOUBLE PREP (which I discuss below) it saves you massive amounts of money from eating lunches out during the work week.

No excuses for not staying the course

Meal prepping takes away temptation and puts the resources you need to be successful right at your fingertips.  Ready meals and snacks help you stay the course and eliminates massive barriers between you and your success.

Less snacking

When well balanced meals are ready, you will be eating foods that are more satiating. Greater satiation means that you will have less desire to snack and will likely eliminate the temptations to reach for something that doesn’t support your goals.  Balanced meals help regulate blood sugar levels which helps maintain long-term health and hunger regulation.

Success in your goals

Anytime you have a goal, you must have a plan of action to get there.  Part of the action plan to lose weight or improve the quality of foods you are eating must include meal prep as part of that action plan.

4 Steps To Meal Prep Success

#1: Organize Meal Prep

The first step in meal prepping is the initial organization. I’ve also found that this is the part that feels so overwhelming that so many people just stop because they don’t know where to start.

In theory, I could just offer a whole list of foods and grocery shopping lists and map out an entire plan for you. BUT that does not teach you one darn thing. It would last, but only for a bit. So instead, I am going to take you through step-by-step directions so you can be a meal prepping boss. Just like my work with clients, I want you to develop a skill set that will last you a lifetime. So here’s how to organize your meal prep.

Sync your schedule

Look at your week and think about what is going on. If you are married or have children, include their schedules too. This is the time to decide how many meals you will be having at home.

I have a family of four and we usually plan for 5 meals for the week, 1 night of leftovers and 1 meal out as a family (we really look forward to this one). Five meals are totally manageable and a 6th night for leftovers makes sure you let nothing go to waste.

What will you prep?

This is the fun, creative part of the organization and planning process.  This is also the part where you get bored over time.

The most basic way to pick what you will prep is opting for the “PICK 3 COMBO” (covered below).  This oversimplifies the planning and also helps guide you in the direction of real, whole foods.

Keep it Simple

One of the biggest failures, when you start to organize your meal prep (aside from not making it a priority), is making it too complicated. You don’t have to make gourmet meals. You just need to batch cook a few choices of lean proteins, a selection of vegetables and starches. Each can be recycled using spices and seasonings to totally change the flavor and consistency.

Pick your portions

Next, you’ll need to pick your portions. This is where you think about how you plan to use each meal.  Will they be stand-alone dinners? Or will you become the master of meal prep and do what I call “DOUBLE PREP” so that you have lunches for the next day too.

DOUBLE PREP is the key to my sanity. Although I do some mass meal preps, my favorite form of meal prep is doubling up the portions for dinner to kill two birds with one stone and make lunch for my husband and me for the next day too.

The main goal is to have an idea of how much you will need so you have enough to organize your meal prep.

Make a grocery list

Now that you’ve got your recipes and portion sizes you can start to create a grocery shopping list.  If you organize that list by category, you also simplify the shopping process and become more efficient maneuvering through the store.

You can download a super easy to use meal planning calendar and grocery shopping list here too (because this post wouldn’t be complete without it).


Lastly, shop until you drop. BUT my number one suggestion for shopping is not to do it on an empty belly. If you are hungry at the grocery store you are likely to creep into the aisles and add things to the cart that aren’t going to support your goals.

You’ve spent all of this time planning, you want to go in with a mission and GET IT DONE.

And boom, just like that we’ve taken what could have been a super complicated process and broken it down into manageable steps. Now you can organize your meal prep with ease. Remember, start small and keep it simple. Above all, just start.

The work week comes fast and before you know it’s Friday and you haven’t spent any time preparing yourself for the week. We spent time organizing meal prep in order to get rid of the overwhelm of even starting it. Now it’s time to dig in and learn how to start executing meal prep. For me, this is the best part.

#2: Executing meal prep

Wash and Dry

Turn on your favorite Pandora station and go to work.  The first step is gathering your ingredients and washing, drying, and peeling whatever is needed. If time is really a HUGE factor, don’t be afraid to buy pre-cut vegetables to help eliminate some of the basic steps in meal prep to make the task less daunting.

Become the ultimate multi-tasker

To start executing meal prep well and become efficient, you have to become great at doing lots of things at the same time. When you begin a massive meal prep session, the first thing you need to do is begin to cook the items that will take the longest first.

If you plan to cook protein in the crockpot, put it in first so that it can cook while you cut, chop and saute. In general, proteins will take the longest followed by vegetables and carbohydrates depending on their method of preparation.

Get those proteins going and while they roast, grill, or sit in the crockpot, move onto the prep of the other items including chopping vegetables or getting your carbs ready for the oven or Instant Pot. I talk about this in much more depth in my guide that will teach you how to become a meal prep hero that you can buy HERE.

Pick 3 Combo

The most basic way to pick what you will prep is opting for the “Pick 3 combo”.  This oversimplifies the planning and also helps guide you in the direction of real, whole foods.

Click HERE to learn more about the Pick 3 combo in my meal prep guide.

Once you get the hang of it, you can add different flavors, spices and swap macronutrients to create diversity in your meals.  Chose a few proteins for the week that can be repurposed by adding new spices, seasonings or simple sauces to change up the flavor.

My favorite seasonings include Trader Joe’s Everyday seasoning, Chili Lime, Lemon Pepper and Everything But The Bagel. I am also in Love with Primal Palate’s garlic and herb seasoning, and BBQ seasoning. You can order them HERE in awesome combo packs that are so worth it.

There are also sauce choices you can add that won’t add a ton of caloric value including regular mustard, dijon mustard, Frank’s Buffalo sauce, diced pickles, or some Greek yogurt-based dips to create a creamy condiment.

Efficiency is key

Think about using the kitchen space you have efficiently. Your goal is to maximize the use of all the surfaces so you can be efficient with your time. If the crockpot is filled with protein, bust out the Instant Pot to cook rice or potatoes (or vice versa).  If you don’t have either of these kitchen gadgets (I highly recommend first getting the Instant Pot because it can do both pressure and slow cooking) then use the stove and oven simultaneously.  Saute proteins while you roast a large batch of sweet potatoes in the oven on one tray and broccoli and cauliflower on the other tray.

Efficiency will come with practice. Just like any new adventure, it takes time to master it and get a really great rhythm. What might take 3-4 hours in the first few attempts will soon only take 2 hours. 2 hours of your time executing meal prep that will lead you to an entire week of success.  It is 100% worth it.

Portion and Package

Once everything is cooked and ready, it’s time for the grand finale… the packaging. If you track your macros, then this is the time to bust out the scale and measure out each meal to guarantee accuracy and success.

If your goal is simple balanced meals and accountability with a meal prep plan, then balanced portions of good quality whole foods are what you are after.

Use your hand as a guide and aim for one handful of protein, one handful of carbohydrate and two handfuls of vegetables.

There are lots of options when it comes to meal prep containers.  You can choose plastic or glass, and base your choices on whatever your budget and material requirements are.

These plastic containers are easy to use, can be bought in bulk for lots of weekly meals, are BPA free, and dishwasher safe.

If glass is your preferences, these rock. I have also seen awesome sets at our local Costco as well.

Once each meal has a lid on it, use a dry erase marker to list the contents inside and macronutrient quantities if you need to. Don’t skip this step, especially if you plan to freeze, because you will forget what the heck you made and on what date.


While things feel under control and are cooking away, this is also a great time to prep snacks. I use this time to chops fresh carrots, celery and cucumber to pair with my favorite Greek yogurt dips (you can find the recipes for these HERE) or hummus as a snack and also for my kiddos’ lunches. I love to store things (after they dry) in mason jars so I can see what is in the frig fast and to tempt my kids (and hubby) with healthy options.

If you are a really advanced meal prepper, you might even measure out servings of nuts, trail mixes, crackers, or fruit to have as grab and go options in your pantry or fridge.

Freeze it too

And finally, don’t forget the freezer.  It is really helpful to make a few extra meals for the freezer each time you meal prep. There is sure to be a night where you are just not prepared nor feel like cooking. These freezer meals will save your day and will help you maintain laser focused on your mission to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The work week comes fast and before you know it’s Friday and you haven’t spent any time preparing yourself for the week. We spent time organizing meal prep in order to get rid of the overwhelm of even starting it. Now it’s time to dig in and learn how to start executing meal prep. For me, this is the best part.

Ready to dive into meal prep from start to finish?  Grab my guide to becoming the hero of your own meal prep HERE.


#3 Add variety

Now you just need ideas.

And who has time for being creative??

Diversity breeds sustainability. I teach my clients that all the time. If you eat the same stuff day in and day out then you are likely to get bored. You need to make time for ideas that don’t have to be complicated.

If you stick with my PICK 3 COMBO to simplify meal prep, then you can do a few simple things to increase variety in your meal prep. And super bonus…stick with it until the end of the post for 5 resources for even more ideas.  If you are ready to start now, you can grab my guide to becoming a meal prep hero which will give you exact meal ideas and walk you through how to execute your own meal prep from start to finish.


Bust open that spice cabinet and use your favorite seasonings.  They change the flavor of your food completely and can turn your crockpot chicken into Asian wraps, chili lime taco salads, or BBQ chicken pizza.

When meal prepping in batches, make the initially cooked meals simple in flavors with some salt, pepper and garlic.  This will leave room for increasing diversity variety in your meal prep during the week.

Here are a few of my favorite seasonings to keep on hand:

  • Primal Palate Seasonings (these are pricey but the best I’ve used and I love the Meat and Potatoes blend and simple Garlic and Herb blend as well)
  • Trader Joe’s Chili Lime
  • Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel
  • Trader Joe’s’ Everyday Seasoning
  • Maldon Sea Salt Flakes (so good in my skinny version of guacamole)

Add condiments

Another simple way to change the flavor of your food is to add condiments such as sauces and salsas.  The only tip I have here is to be aware of the contents and make sure you aren’t adding a massive amount of calories through condiments.

A few of my favorite condiments include:

  • Mustard
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Franks Red Hot (mix this with Dijon and holy yummy)
  • Greek Yogurt (you can add this with seasonings to make a dip like this one)
  • Salsa

Swap the starch

To increase variety in your meal prep, simply swap the starch you typically pair with your protein and vegetables.

Usually have rice with lemon pepper chicken?

Swap it for roasted sweet potatoes.

Usually have sweet potatoes with sloppy joes?  

Swap them out for some quinoa.

No over complication, just simple no hassle meal prep.


Have protein variety

Get out of your comfort zone and try something new.  Meal prep does not need to consist of chicken every week. Try new proteins along the way to add flavor and texture variety. In addition, the diversity of protein allows for lots of micronutrient benefits as well. For a complete list of lean proteins, click HERE.

Change the way it was cooked

Lastly, swap your prep strategy.  If the weather permits, forgo the oven and grill everything.  There is something about meals from the grill that make me feel like summer and a La Croix with a splash of lime.

Or bust out your sheet pans, use a light spray of olive or coconut oil and a few simple seasonings to roast a whole bunch of potatoes and veggies to batch prep.  Oven roasting is great because you can allow things to cook while you master multitasking doing other things to get ready for your week. Changing up the cooking method adds flavor and diversity throughout the week. I cover which cooking methods are actually best for meal prep and how long you can store food in my Guide to Becoming a Meal Prep Hero HERE-

Top 4 Resources for meal ideas

You stuck around to the end (or skipped here). Either way, I don’t care because I just want you to be a meal prep master.

(Want to learn how to fill your body with real food to look and feel your best? Check out my Feel Amazing Naked challenge by clicking here.)

Here are my top resources for meal prep ideas that will give you simple recipes that you can turn into weekly go-to’s.  Some recipes may be too complicated because remember that part of the success of meal prepping comes from keeping it simple. However, they may inspire ideas, flavors and combinations you would have otherwise passed over.

  1. Skinnytaste
  2. Detoxinista
  3. Paleomg
  4. My Pinterest (shameless plug) because I add yummy ideas all the time

#4 Simplify with meal pre must-haves

No meal prep post would be complete without a guide to my favorite tools and supplies that make meal prepping easy. Your budget and lifestyle will dictate the need for each of these.  What I do know is that each of these meal prep must haves offers something unique to the meal prepping process that may become the magic of your meal prep success.

Instant Pot

I am a raging Instant Pot fan because once I tried it…I never looked back. I still use my crockpot but I love having this on hand so that if I don’t plan ahead, I can still get dinner on the table quick. It can pressure cook and slow cook and it makes that most amazing hard boiled eggs.

If you could buy just one kitchen gadget, this would be my suggestion because it has so many features and is an all-in-one kitchen appliance. This is the ultimate tool on my meal prep must-haves list, and I’d be lost without it.


This was my first kitchen appliance and first cooking love. I still use mine often. It is a great purchase for a newbie in the kitchen because the buttons are simple and its use is straightforward. Throw in a protein or other ingredients, add some liquid and let it cook for 6-8 hours. It’s foolproof most of the time.

Air Fryer

I am not gonna lie.  I was extremely reluctant to try the Air Fryer because I didn’t need one more thing. However, this little handy gadget can come through with that lightly fried finish that some foods just need without the mess of oil or the macronutrient fat bomb!  You can put in so many yummy food options for a solid golden finish. This should be on your meal prep must-haves list if you like crispy food without all the extra oil or greasiness.

You can buy the Air Fryer in multiple sizes to accommodate more food.  My opinion is to go big, especially if you are feeding a family so you don’t have to do multiple batches for one meal.

Some of my favorite things to put in the Air Fryer are kale chips, sweet potato fries and chicken.

Glass Storage Containers

An eco-friendly form of meal prep storage can happen in the glass containers.  They lock tight and the super bonus is you can reheat your food right in them. Plus, they’re easy to use.

Plastic Storage Containers

If glass containers are too bulky or unreasonable for your commute, you can opt for a more simple option.  These plastic containers are more cost-effective, stack nicely in the refrigerator and are super simple to pack for work or school.

Reusable Sandwich Bags

These are my jam! You can put dry and wet ingredients in them and reuse them for your snacks weekly. The initial investment saves you lots of money in the long run because you don’t have to buy throw away Ziplocs anymore. Like, ever. And they are easy to clean too.

Lunch bag

If you are on the go and work has you living out of your car, then this is a worthwhile investment.  It allows you to pack multiple meals, snacks and keep them cold all day.

Lunch Bots

I am a fan of Lunchbots products all around. I bought my first container 4 years ago when my daughter was in preschool for a safe and dishwasher friendly options. We still use it today.  I’ve purchased more along the way for my son and hubby. These are awesome for kids meal prep and if you stick them in the fridge overnight, it helps keep your food cool all day.

Dry erase markers

Who thought these would be on my meal prep must-haves list? The finishing touch of meal prep is labeling your food, quantities, and put the date you made the meal on them. No matter what type of container your food is stored in, using dry erase markers makes it easy to label and reuse.  These are a must for meal prep and are often overlooked.

Make meal prep simple and invest in things that make your life easier. Changing habits is a long-term investment so commit yourself to the process and create an environment for success…which includes meal prep must-haves.

Creating a relationship with food that lasts is about forming habits, putting in the work and investing in your health.  Long-term results do not come from fad diets that produce overnight results.  Meal planning and prepping is a skill and habit that is 100% worthwhile.

These steps are the basic framework for success but I’ve put together a whole lot more in my Meal Prep Hero Guide.  In it, I will provide you a grocery list and walk you through one week’s of meal prep from start to finish AND provide you two weeks more of meal ideas.  It also included details on safe methods of preparation and storage, a grocery shopping and meal planning template and some detailed tips not included in this post.

Ready to learn how to implement these steps?  BUY my guide to becoming the hero of your own meal prep HERE.

Work Hard Be Kind,




8 replies
  1. Christina @ Organize Your Biz
    Christina @ Organize Your Biz says:

    Meal prep is AMAZING! One of my favorite meal planning “hacks” (if you can call it that) is using a service like Kroger Clicklist to do my shopping. For $5 I can cut out a trip into the store with the kids, get the quantity of items I need, and I don’t even have to load it into the car. It saves me SO MUCH TIME, it really makes things like large cooking days easier.

    • awalkmacros@gmail.com
      awalkmacros@gmail.com says:

      Yes–I love a Clicklist too on a busy week. Although, I find it so fun to grocery shop and see what is on sale and in season too. I wish they offered this when my kids were tiny too. Wishing you success in making meal prep simple.

  2. Cameron
    Cameron says:

    I love the idea of the Pick 3 Combo. It makes it so easy to come up with a meal. Especially with a list of ideas! That’s the hardest part for me, deciding what to make.

    • awalkmacros@gmail.com
      awalkmacros@gmail.com says:

      Thank you. I hope it simplifies the entire process and takes the brain work out of it. It also really encourages you to learn how to prepare whole foods. Then, from there it is easy swaps. Wishing you success in your meal prep.

  3. Laura
    Laura says:

    Although not a master prepper, I have been diligent. Prepping has been a MUST since my sons LAX season has just begun with practice every night! No need to stop to grab anything, we can get home re-heat and eat within 20 minutes. Prepping saves my sanity during the busy week.

    • awalkmacros@gmail.com
      awalkmacros@gmail.com says:

      Consistency and being diligent is what it is all about. It is about making healthy habits a priority…which you are clearly doing. It puts to the side any temptation to hit the drive-thru and give in to temptation. So impressed…keep it up!

  4. Hillary
    Hillary says:

    This is an excellent resource. I will definitely take all of your tips into careful consideration. I recently got an air fryer, and that helps me to cook tasty (and yet healthy food) for minutes.

    • awalkmacros@gmail.com
      awalkmacros@gmail.com says:

      Hi Hillary,
      I am so glad you find it is helpful! I love my Air Fryer too and I also have several recipes on the blog using an Air Fryer. The Healthy Chicken Nugget Recipe is my favorite!

      Wishin you the best,


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