Meal Prep 101
Meal-Prep, the Loveleaf Way
I started Loveleaf with the mission to help people eat real food (easily and every day). And I quickly realized that this simple intention is a lot easier when we actually plan for it (#adulting). Enter: meal-prep, Loveleaf style. ✌🏼
The words "meal-prep" might stir up some Instagram visuals: black plastic containers, the infamous chicken and broccoli combo, and counting macros. While that's all fine and good, it's not really the Loveleaf way. I don't think "meal prep" should be synonymous with "boring" OR mean spending a FULL DAY in the kitchen.
One of the biggest downfalls of meal prep (aka why I used to routinely #fail at it) is overwhelm; I'd try to make too many recipes each week, which led me to spend too much money on groceries and spend way too much time in the kitchen. So I did what I love to do most; I simplified the process.
I like to keep meal prep clean, simple, and flexible. To make meal prep actually happen, I use two main strategies:
1. Prep one (really good) recipe per week.
I usually cook one recipe that makes enough servings for several meals. I think of this as my "base meal." Doing this will give you a solid framework of ready-to-eat meals and the flexibility to cook other things. (Or go out for tacos and margs because #balance.)
2. Always mini meal prep.
Instead of cooking everything on Sunday or Monday (#stressful), I do mini meal preps throughout the week. In addition to my base meal, which I make early in the week, I'll cook super simple dinners on weeknights using my number one rule: always make leftovers! So an easy dinner will become lunch the next day. (This simple game plan is one of the most popular features of the Loveleaf Seasonal Cleanse.)
These two strategies work really well together. You have your base meal, which you'll enjoy several times throughout the week, and then your simple dinners (turned into lunches) to keep things interesting in between.
I find this way of meal prepping more realistic than a full meal prep day. And when things are realistic, we actually do them (right?). Because less makes room for better (read: time to do everything else in your life). ✌🏼
Meal planner + grocery list. Download below.
So Why Meal Prep?
How we eat influences our daily happiness, relationships, energy, mood, and health. And healthy food is actually pretty simple. It just takes a little thought. Meal planning and prep encourages you to do the "hard" work up front, so you can be your best self during the work week. Meal prepping allows you to:
Eat healthier than you ever have.
Hello, veggies. Meal prepping guarantees you eat healthy, nutrient dense meals on the reg. (Because your prep-ahead self is smarter than your weeknight-after-work self).
Break out of your recipe rut.
Because "eggs for dinner again?" gets old. Meal planning and prep forces you to be thoughtful and intentional about your meals so you don't default to making the same old, same old in the moment. Need recipe ideas? I got you.
Shop with purpose.
Say goodbye to hours at the grocery store and to produce going bad in the fridge. By planning ahead of time (and using a super organized weekly shopping list), each ingredient will have a use.
Have more freedom and flexibility.
A little planning and prepping is the antidote to weeknight stress. A simple framework frees you up to focus on the stuff that really matters. And gives you the flexibility to grab sushi and drinks with friends (without anything going to waste).
Do it all in less time.
So you can pay attention to everything else in your life. Like actually eating the food. While relaxing. With a glass of rosé (just an idea).
How to Meal Prep (the Play-By-Play)
Make a plan.
Before the week begins, craft a simple menu and organized shopping list. Keep it simple but spice it up with something #fancy. Use this trusted build-a-bowl formula to make your favorite combinations. Deciding on what to eat before grocery shopping can save you hundreds (and hundreds) of dollars a year.
Download the free printable Meal Planner and Grocery List to get started (or try the Loveleaf Seasonal Cleanse where we've planned it all for you ;)
Keep a well-stocked pantry.
Always keep the essentials on hand to spend less time at the grocery store. Be sure to cross off what you already have before grocery shopping to avoid buying duplicate items. Here's how to stock a healthy pantry.
Go grocery shopping.
And bring your grocery list! Make grocery shopping fit seamlessly into your life (read: do it on your way home from work instead of using half of Sunday). A delivery service like Instacart can help. Looking to save some money? Check out these tips here.
Get the containers and tools you need.
A little up front investment will go a long way. To store food, I'm kind of obsessed with these Glasslock containers. My favorite (over-Pinterested) budget option is pairing these mason jars with these leakproof Tulid lids. For making the prep itself a breeze, check out my essential kitchen tools here.
Choose your prep time(s).
You don't need an entire prep day. My simplified approach means less than an hour of prep early in the week for your "base meal" and then mini meal preps throughout the week. Always with a clean, clutter-free kitchen, music, and a glass of wine. Download the free printable Meal Planner and Grocery List to get started (or try the Loveleaf Seasonal Cleanse where we've planned it all for you ;)