What’s for dinner? Wish you always had the answer to that question? You can. Meal-prepping makes it possible. Put simply, meal-prep is just planning ahead. And it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. In fact, it can even help you save time.

Why meal-prep?

  1. It can help you eat healthy.
    You may be more likely to stick to a healthy meal plan if you have healthy food ready to eat when you are.1 In moments of hunger, it’s common to go for the easiest choice. How much better to have a healthy meal that’s all ready to go! Meal-prepping can also help you control portion size and maximize your nutrition goals.
  2. It can help you save money.2
    When you go to the grocery store with a list of the foods you need for your meals, it’s easier to stay on target and not be influenced by temptations. By planning ahead, you put yourself in control at the store. And as for eating out—why stop for food if you already have something tasty at home?
  3. It can help reduce stress.
    No more feeling anxious about what to feed yourself or your family. This can take one more thing off your already full plate for the day. Plus, eating may become more interesting. You might end up serving more variety when you’ve dedicated a little time ahead to plan meals.

Before you get cooking…

Simplify your meal-prep:

  • Decide the length of time for which you will meal-prep. Then, look at your calendar and see how many meals you want to make for that time frame. Start small. You may want to begin with certain meals like lunches or create dinners for just two to three days of the week.3 Also, take into consideration whether you’ll be eating out during this time.
  • Consider choosing recipes that involve some of the same ingredients and cooking methods to make at the same time. Make dishes that use only the oven or only the stovetop in one meal-prep session.
  • Think about prepping staple foods you can add to meals or have as snacks. Ideas include washed greens, chopped veggies and fruit, cooked beans, grilled chicken and hardboiled eggs.3
  • Do your meal-planning, -prep and -shopping at the same time each week. You may be more likely to keep up the practice if you stay on a schedule.
  • Organize your grocery list by where you will find the foods in the store. For example, place all produce in the same spot on your list. Get all similar foods at the same time instead of having to revisit different areas of the store.
  • Optimize your meals.4 Here’s your chance to make sure you get all the nutrients you need. You could even theme your meals by day: Salad Sunday, Fruit-for-Friday, etc. Have some fun with your food.

Select the meal-prep method that suits your taste:

The full meal deal

With this method, you make a variety of complete meals all at once.

One-dish wonders

Here, you make several batches of the same meal.

Single-serving meals

This is a great option for meals on the go. It involves preparing individual portions of meals.

Sous-chef style

Have meals in mind that call for a lot of ingredients? You could use your meal-prep time to prepare these ingredients so they’re ready to cook when you are. Say you want to make a stir-fry. You could wash and cut the vegetables and meat. And then store them in separate containers. Then, when you go to make the stir-fry, you’ve cut your meal-prep time significantly.

Want another cook in your kitchen?

Call on our registered dietitians for support. Connect with them by phone or video when and where serves you best. They can help with personalized diet plans, managing health conditions and more.

Learn more about our nutrition service

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Cooking not your favorite? Try no-cook meals.

Published March 4, 2024


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