Meal Prep 101

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I try to meal prep for lunches only once a week.  I keep it really simple!!!  I only prep lunches for myself.  My husband eats at work and my dad feeds the kids during the day when he watches them.  And I only pick 1 or 2 meals for the week.

My little helper

Ivy like to help me get my containers pulled out.  Not sure if she’s really helping since I have to rewash everything once she’s done with them.  But she’s cute, so she gets a pass.

I use the different types of containers that I got from Amazon.

I use these 38 oz deep containers for my salads.  They have enough room for me to add all my goodies plus room for the salad dressing cup and bags of extras like croutons on the top.  And I don’t have to worry about stuff jumping out when I’m cutting everything up or mixing dressing in.

For my main meals I use these 28oz shallow containers.  They fit perfectly in my lunch box along with a deep container and there’s still room for extras like fruit and yogurt.  They are great for my usual chicken, mushroom, rice bowl combinations.  This is my go-to container!!!  Salads fit in here too, but they don’t have much depth so I found I was always losing stuff to my desk when I’d try mixing in the dressing.

If I want stuff separated, then I use these 2 compartment containers.  I don’t use them very often, since I usually go for a “bowl” type lunch.  But they are great if you like to keep veggies, carbs, proteins all separated.  They will not keep sauces separated unless the container is kept flat.  Any tipping will cause liquids to move around.

All the containers are great about preventing leaks with normal use.  If you’re flipping them over or storing on their side I don’t know how liquids will act.  I use a Thirty-One lunch bag that keeps them secure stacked up along with an ice pack.  Then I place it in my backpack for work.  I keep it at my desk all day instead of trying to cram it into the already overflowing fridges at work.

Fruit prep

Ok, now onto how I actually do the prep.  It’s pretty easy, but might be a bit intimidating if you’re not sure where to start.  I start with a meal plan.  Write it down!!!!  Make your grocery list, hit the store, and then get everything ready.  I wash and cut up any produce as soon as I get it.  If I don’t it won’t get used and I’ll end up tossing it in a week when it’s gone bad on us.  I use my Beachbody Portion Control containers to measure everything except lettuce.  I figure no one got fat eating too much lettuce.  So I just load up my containers with it!!!!

Laying out all my supplies.

I start by laying out my containers and all the ingredients for each part of the meal.  I start with my salads.  I have one everyday.  It’s how I get in most of my veggies and sometimes my fruits for the day.  I lay everything out on the counter and work assembly line style.  Layer up the lettuce, veggies (this week was mushrooms and cucumbers), nuts, and cheese.  I used pine nuts and crumbled goat cheese.  Measure everything out if you’re tracking macros or portions.  I then add the items I don’t want to get mushy into snack size bags and add those to the top.

Ready to add the dressing cups.

Salad dressing goes into a 2oz container (the clear plastic containers you buy for Jell-O shots work perfectly).  You don’t need to fill it up!!!  Measure out 2 tablespoons and you’ll have more than enough.  Then that snuggles down in a corner.  Lid goes on and into the produce drawer they go.

I repeat this same process for the main entree as well.  I plan it so the protein I’m cooking for dinner becomes the protein, or one of the proteins, I’m having for lunch that week.  Then I just whip out my containers, pack them up as I’m cleaning up from dinner, and into the fridge they go.  If I’m making a 2nd meal for the week, say taco salads or wraps.  I cook the protein, pack it up, and clean up from that before dinner so my kitchen hopefully doesn’t get too messy.  More times than not, it just gets messy!!  What can I say, I’m only human.  One with 3 kids running around my legs while I’m doing this.  It never goes smoothly, but it does eventually get done before work the next morning.

Having fruit cut and portioned also helps when the kids want a snack.  I can just grab a container and they’re good to go.  I also try make Ivy’s bottles 18oz at a time.  I use my immersion blender in a shaker cup!!!!  Drives the dog crazy but beats making a bottle when she’s screaming in the middle of the night.

Freezer meals are also a great way to meal prep for dinners!  I’m not a huge fan of most meats once they’ve been thru a freeze/thaw cycle.  But I do like this technique for soups, stews, and crockpot meals.

I’d love to hear your tips for getting meals prepped, so leave me a comment.