6 Great Meal Prep Tips for Beginners

At Pure 21, we love meal prepping. Whether we’re watching what we eat or what we spend on dining out, preparing meals in advance is our go-to solution. It’s convenient, reduces waste, and curbs temptation. Plus, meal prepping is the most efficient way to eat well.

For most people, cooking every day is out of the question. Bulk meal prepping helps you get home-cooked meals without hours of daily preparation. But where to begin?

We’ve rounded up our Top Six Picks for Meal Prepping to help you get started.

1. Stock up on meal prep staples.

Keep your pantry and freezer stocked with go-to items like frozen fruits and veggies (less expensive and lasts much longer), frozen brown rice or quinoa (quicker cooking and no pan to wash), and frozen shrimp or salmon (defrosts quickly). Items for your pantry should include things like plain oatmeal, beans, canned tomatoes, salsa, and broth.

2. Get in on the mason jar trend.

They work for salads, soup, oatmeal, smoothies — pretty much anything. Mason jars are dishwasher and microwave safe, watertight, and sturdy as can be. Not to mention they look a lot nicer and are much more durable than your typical Tupperware.

3. Utilize the weekend.

Get your meal prepping done on the weekend so you’re ready for the beginning of each week. You’ll thank yourself all week long because, let’s be honest, cooking is the last thing you want to do after a long day at work. Doing your meal prepping on the weekend is a great utilization of time and can help you stay more organized during the hectic workweek, especially if you follow our next tip:

4. Learn to multitask.

When people are first starting to meal prep, they tend to focus on doing one thing at a time. While this helps prevent mistakes, it takes a lot longer. With practice, you can bake in the oven, cook on the stove, and work at the counter simultaneously.

5. Bust out your slow cooker.

Using a slow cooker is an efficient way to cook a large amount of something at once, and requires very little work on your end. You can do several pounds of pork, chicken, make a chili, or a stew to eat throughout the week with the touch of a button. 

 6. Shake things up.

Some people get frustrated thinking that they have to eat the same thing all day, every day when they meal prep in advance. However, meal prepping doesn’t have to mean sticking to the same meals every single day. Your traditional breakfast does not always have to be eggs and oatmeal, and your lunch does not have to be a basic salad. Simply plan your meals according to your personal goals while keeping food diversity in mind for plenty of nutrients and taste all week long.

With these tips in mind, one question remains: what’s best to prep?

The palatability of prepped meals varies from person to person. Foods that usually fair very well for meal prepping are: pasta, cooked beans, cooked meat, roasted vegetables, hearty fresh vegetables (think celery, carrots, peas, bell peppers, kale, cabbage, radishes, etc.), whole fruit (apples, oranges, stone fruit), nuts, and cheese. Sauces and dips, (like salad dressings, hummus, salsa, sour cream, etc.) are generally refrigerator stable too, especially when packed separately from your meal.

Foods that don’t always fare well are softer fruits and vegetables like lettuce, berries, cut fruit, or crunchy items like fried food, crackers, or chips. However, there are ways around this, like packing ingredients individually. A useful tip would be to stay away from items that require special care just for convenience sake, but it is possible to prep these things if you don’t mind putting in the extra work.

Remember, your prepped meals don’t last forever.

As food is stored in the refrigerator, it begins a slow decline in quality. In addition to this, the way food is packed for the individual nuances of your refrigerator environment can impact the quality of your refrigerated meals. By prepping four days at a time, you can prep two times per week and be covered or prep once per week and use a stash of freezer leftovers for the remaining days (plus the option of eating out one day).