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How to Meal Prep

Close-up of a woman holding a divided glass container filled with a prepped meal.

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Back in 2013, when I originally posted on meal prepping, it was quite the novel concept! The idea hadn’t quite taken off on Instagram yet, and people were blown away with how much easier it was to get healthy food on your plate with meal prep.

Now, meal prep is a pretty common tactic folks use to streamline their meals. There are tons of meal prep recipes, menus, and even services that provide entire meals for you for a week. I’m so excited to see so many people jumping on the meal prep bandwagon!

Side angle shot of Meal Prep Chicken Pad Thai with Sweet Potato Noodles packed into 3 glass lunch containers

So here, I’m updating my old “How to Meal Prep” content with all the goodies I’ve learned over the past 5+ years of meal prepping, plus giving you an easy get-started primer if you’re new to meal prep. I get that seeing those perfectly organized beautiful meals on Instagram or Pinterest can be mega-intimidating—and I’m here to tell you that meal prep doesn’t have to be overwhelming or super time consuming. We’re going to make meal prep work for you!

Because some folks are better auditory and visual learners, I pulled all my favorite Meal Prep 101 Tips and Tricks into a short video to get you started. This definitely isn’t a deep dive into Meal Prepping, but it will give you enough info to get you going!

First up: Identify Your Meal Pain Points

It might be tempting to dive into meal prepping all your meals, but the truth is, most of us have at least one meal a day that is relatively “easy” to get on the table. Maybe you head into work later, and breakfast is normally pretty easy for you to get going. Maybe you love cooking dinner as a family, so dinner is a joy to prepare! You don’t really need meal prep help for those meals.

Instead, focus your meal prep efforts where it’ll really count. For me, that’s primarily lunches and snacks—I tend to get hyper-focused and forget (or choose not) to eat. Having food prepped and ready makes it super easy for me to get my midday meals in!

Woman in a striped shirt and purple cardigan smiling and eating vegetables, chicken, and berries out of a glass meal prep container.

You and your family’s meal habits will undoubtedly be different. Meal prep should be customized to what’s going on in your household! If breakfast is a struggle every morning, meal prep breakfast. If you love going out to lunch with your coworkers, don’t worry about prepping lunch. If dinner is almost impossible to get done between shuttling kids to sports practices, then prep your dinner. Use meal prep to make your life easier—YOUR life.

Next Up: Decide How You Want to Meal Prep

The key to making meal prep a regular part of your life is to figure out how to make it work with your schedule, your family’s needs, and your budget. There is no one right or wrong way to meal prep. I recommend using your first few weeks of meal prepping as trial-and-error time. What works? What doesn’t? The first thing you need to play around with is picking which meal prep “system” works best for you.

Full Meal Prepping

The first kind of meal prepping is what you see soooo many Instagram photos about, and that is prepping full meals. This is where you pack a full meal into a divided container and stash it in the fridge for easy grab-and-go-meals all week long. (By the way, I have a great run-down of my favorite glass divided containers in this post.)

Meal Prep Healthy Veggie Stir Fry

The advantages to going this way are:

  • All the work is upfront, so when it’s meal time, all you have to do is heat and eat. This is particularly helpful if you have a chaotic schedule that leaves little time for cooking during the work week.
  • It’s easy to individualize servings—smaller servings for kids, bigger for adults, etc.
  • If you are under a healthcare provider’s prescribed diet, it simplifies things and makes it easier to ensure you have the required portions.

The disadvantages of full meal prepping are:

  • It’s easy to get bored because the meals are often exactly the same (there are ways around this, though—like cooking multiple full meals in a week and sharing with family or friends).
  • It doesn’t allow for the natural fluctuations in our bodies’ hunger from day-to-day—it’s totally normal to be more hungry one day and less the next.
  • Since all the prep work is done ahead of time, meal prep time can be laborious.

Prepping Meal Elements

If full meal prepping doesn’t seem up your alley, you might find success with prepping meal elements. This is where you take the items that you frequently use throughout the week—say, cooked chicken breast—and instead of cooking them on the fly each time you need to cook a meal, you bulk cook the elements on your meal prep day, and then have it available for you to build meals from all week long.

Close-up of a woman holding glass containers. One is filled with zucchini noodles, and the other with sweet potato cubes.

The advantages to prepping elements are:

  • Tons of flexibility! You can mix, match, and combine elements to create almost endless possibilities.
  • A much shorter meal prep time, because you are just cooking individual foods instead of full meals.
  • Since nothing is pre-portioned, you can listen to the intuitive hunger cues in your body to determine how much food you should eat—not the size of what’s in the container.
  • Many prepped elements can be frozen for later use if you end up cooking too much.

The disadvantages are:

  • It doesn’t completely strip away your cook time—you still gotta get in the kitchen.
  • It can be hard to estimate exactly how much food you need, so you might have too much or too little at the end of the week.

A Combo of Both

Again, meal prepping is all about customizing what works for you, and what I’ve found is that a combo of prepping both full meals and meal elements works beautifully for me!

Meal prep components laid out in individual containers - roasted sweet potato cubes, salads in jars, muffins, egg cups, hard boiled eggs, hummus, and date bites.

I like to do a few full meals (like say, my Meal Prep Pad Thai or my Overnight Oats), but then I also supplement it with a few elements that can be used everywhere: roasted sweet potatoes, cooked chicken, cooked grains. It works well for me! That way I always have food ready to grab-and-go, but if I do have a little more time (or if I’m feeling bored), I can cook something quickly with the elements I have ready.

Glass containers filled with a week's worth of meal prep.

Make Your Prep List

Once you have figured out what (breakfast? lunch? dinner? snacks?) and how (full meals? elements? combo?) you can start to formulate your first prep list! Browse your favorite blogs (ahem, ahem) and check Pinterest for ideas that fit within your plan. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably super excited and ready to dive in with a list of 40 different preps. STOP RIGHT THERE. I don’t want you to get overwhelmed.

Starting off, I recommend picking one item to help with each of your pain point meals. For me, this usually means picking one item for breakfast (Healthy Meal Prep Breakfast Sandwiches), one for lunches (Meal Prep Steak Fajita Bowls), and one for snacks (Hard Boiled Eggs). Does this cover all my food in the week? Heck no. But it does give me a nice buffer to fall back on when days get busy. And most importantly, my meal prep time doesn’t take over my entire weekend. Dipping your toes in the meal prep waters is way more sustainable than diving head-first into the deep end.

Go ahead and write out those items you want to prep and make your grocery shopping list. Again, KEEP YOUR LIST SHORT, friends!

Pick Your Grocery Shopping and Prep Days

Now that you’ve got your prep list, it’s time to go shopping and pick your prep day. I usually recommend doing them on two separate dates—shopping on Saturday and prepping on Sunday, for example, but if you’re doing a small prep (WHICH YOU ARE, RIGHT?) you can probably get away with doing them both in the same day.

Once your preps get a bit more robust, I recommend splitting up the shopping and prepping days—it’s just a recipe for exhaustion to try to do them on the same day! You can also get around this with grocery delivery or grocery pickup. Curbside pickup has made my prep days SO much easier!

Brunette woman in a teal shirt putting the lid on a glass container filled with zucchini noodles.

I recommend scheduling your prep day when you have little else going on. Actually pull out your calendar and circle the date! It’s a date with yourself and your health—don’t stand yourself up.

Ready, Set, Prep!

When prep day comes, put on some comfy clothes and some good tunes, and then set yourself a timer. Yes, a timer! Again, the key to meal prep being sustainable is for it to not take over your life. So before you prep each time, I highly recommend sitting with yourself for a few minutes and asking this question, “How much am I willing to devote to this today?” Some days, the answer might be three hours—COOL, go at it! Other days, it might be 30 minutes. Also cool! Even 30 minutes will save you so much time during the week (I can make hard boiled eggs, overnight oats, and a few mason jar salads in 30 minutes!).

Whatever answer you get from yourself, set your timer and work that long. When the timer goes off, finish the task at hand, clean up, and move on with your day. Trust me, this has been the key to keeping meal prep sustainable in my life for the past 5+ years—giving myself the flexibility to do as much or as little as I want on a prep day.

iPhone in a green case showing a timer reading 49:38

If meal prep constantly feels like a burden, you can also consider splitting up your preps into multiple mini sessions throughout the week. Maybe you make a salad for lunch and just slice some extra veggies and put them into jars for mason jar salads. Maybe you put sweet potato chunks in the oven to roast while you’re cooking dinner one night. Meal prep can be done in one big session, but it can also be done in spurts throughout the week. Again, experiment and figure out what works for your family and your schedule (and remember that this might shift from week to week!).

Streamline Your Meal Prepping

Once you’ve got your timer going, make the most of your time by streamlining your prepping! To make the most out of my time, I try to start with the things that have an element of inactive work, like making bread or cooking hard boiled eggs. I can move on to other tasks while the water is coming to a boil and the dough is rising.

Easy-to-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs - Perfect Egg

I also try to chop all my veggies at once—this saves a ton of time! If I need one onion for each of two recipes, I’ll just chop two onions from the get-go. I also try to combine tasks so I don’t have to wash or get out new kitchen utensils—I can use the same cutting board and knife to cut lettuce for mason jar salads as I can for cutting veggies for snacking.

Store Your Preps and USE THEM

I like to store my preps pretty exclusively in glass containers. Make sure to label them with both the contents (this is especially important if other people are going to eat your preps) and a “best by” date on them. I just do this with either masking tape and a Sharpie, or write directly on glass with a Sharpie. It wipes right off with a cotton ball dipped in a little rubbing alcohol!

Woman in a teal shirt using a Sharpie to label a glass jar filled with salad in a jar.

And then USE THOSE PREPS! A lot of people seem to have this mindset to “stockpile” food preps for a busy day, but then end up realizing their food has gone bad in the fridge 7-10 days later. You made that food to eat, so eat it! Even if your day isn’t particularly busy, go for it. You can always prep more food, but you can never get back food that’s gone bad. Eat your preps, friends!

Two divided glass containers filled with a meal prep lunch - chicken, berries, and vegetables.

Still Need Help? Try Specialized Meal Prep Menus!

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, I totally hear you! A good place to start might be to use some meal prep menus for a few weeks. These are great because you get a full menu for the week already planned out for you, plus a meal prep schedule/checklist that you can follow on meal prep day, plus a premade printable grocery list. You just have to do the actual cooking—all the planning work is done for you!

Pages from the Resprout wellness program

All the weekly menus in Resprout are meal prep focused, which means you’ll have lifetime access to six weeks worth of fully planned prep sheets, grocery lists, menus, and recipes. You could easily just cycle through the six menus and never have to think about what you’re going to eat ever again! These menus and recipes are included with the full Resprout program—which also has six weeks of body positive yoga, meditation, and journaling work.

Sign up here to be notified when Resprout opens again for registration.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

Leave a Reply

175 Responses
  1. Laurel

    Yeesh, Pyrex is just the best isn’t it? All that food looks delicious! I’m thinking about purchasing a food processor just so I can finally make those darn peanut butter cookie date balls that call my name whenever I happen upon your blog.

    I do some food prep on the weekend, but I actually love to prepare my meals during the week. There’s something therapeutic to me about taking some time each day to chop my veggies.

  2. On sunday, we get our groceries (list and meal plan done) and I usually make some kind of snack for the week (banana muffins, date balls, granola bars). We usually stick to our meal plan, and make enough to have leftovers for lunch the next day (even though I work at home, it is so much easier – decision wise – to have a ready made lunch). This just leaves breakfasts, and my husband always has cereal and almond milk, while I generally have a piece of fruit and Greek yoghurt/whatever snack I made. I’m one of those people who likes knowing what I am going to eat, so prepping/planning works very well for me!

      1. Mindy

        I have tried to make smoothies for 2-3 days but they always turn out gross. The first one is YUM then the second one is just kinda gross and the third one is just nasty. I put protein powder in, do you think that is what makes them gross after a few days?

        Great blog on meal prep! My kitchen looks the same after meal prepping! 🙂 But those dishes are worth having your whole week mapped out!

      2. Cassie

        Protein powder does tend to go yucky in smoothies pretty quickly. I’d try adding it right before drinking and then shake, shake, shaking really well!

  3. This is a great post! I usually do some prep on the weekend as well. I cook a batch of grains, clean veggies and make a pot of soup.
    But I’m curious. How long does the salad in a jar and the fruit and yogurt parfaits stay fresh? I would love to do something similar for my kids lunches — but not sure how far ahead I could make it before it would be yucky.

    1. Cassie

      We’ll wait a whole week before eating the salads, parfaits or smoothies, but we haven’t ever got past that to test it. And it’s just a nice and fresh as the day I put it in the jar. 🙂

      1. Cassie

        Nope, not plastic. They are glass bottles with plastic lids. I’m not sure if that has any difference or not.

      2. Doreen

        Any suggestions on where I can purchase those glass bottles you use to make smoothies? I enjoy having one every morning and if i could make a weeks at a time, well, it would save me a lot of time. 🙂

      3. Suzanne

        I use freezable canning jars w/ plastic lids for smoothies and freeze them. They thaw quick enough and then they stay good until I am ready to eat them. 8 oz jars for side smoothies, 12 oz jars for full portion. I subscribe to once a month meals to do bulk cooking days. They have great recipes, too!

  4. KT

    This may be a dumb question, but this is JUST for lunch and breakfast, right? My husband and I meal plan dinners for the week and I make enough for a family of 6 each night (2 servings for him, 1 for me, 2 lunch servings for him, 1 lunch for me!). I’m starting to wonder if it might be cheaper/more cost effective to do a normal dinner serving and do some lunch prep like this. Thoughts?

    1. Cassie

      Yup, just lunches, breakfasts and snacks. We meal plan dinners too, and we often have leftovers, but we use them on leftover night for dinner or for lunch if we’re not interested in any of the food prep stuff. I have no clue if it’s more cost effective. We are not at all skilled at squeezing money out of our grocery budget. We spend a lot of money on food. 🙂 And I’m okay with that.

  5. Lo the Phoenix

    I should do this.
    I *could* this.

    I think first things first I need to buy some good containers for food storage like it looks like you have. I do have a lot of good wide mouth mason jars, but they don’t work for everything.

    I bought a set of plastic ones at Ikea but they melt. MELT!! Ugh.

  6. Hey Cassie, normally I read your blog in Google Reader, today I decided to click over so I could enjoy the post AND your new design, but it’s really not looking great in my browser — the text font size is huge, the pictures are kind of small, and there are a lot of random blank spaces, as well as a weird overlap between some elements. I can resize the window and it all moves around and the pictures get huge for example, but then it’s too big to look at properly. I’m using Chrome Version 25.0.1364.160, on a Mac running OS X 10.8.2, if that’s any use to you… I thought the feedback might be helpful, but in the interim I will probably still be reading in Google so I’m not worried :p

    Ok I just discovered that there is no button appearing to submit this comment with… I’ll have a look around and see what I can find! If you’re reading this, I got there in the end… :p

    1. Cassie

      Hmmmm! That’s super strange Rosie, because I’m using pretty much the exact same set up as you and am not having those problems. The feedback is definitely helpful! Would you mind sending me a screenshot to backtoherroots@gmail.com if you have a spare second? It might help me diagnose what’s going on. Thanks for letting me know!

  7. Maria

    That salad-in-a-jar idea is brilliant! Would you consider writing a post with a couple of easy variations (not too many ingredients)? I would love it, since I’m always in search of healthy packed lunch ideas that I can throw in my purse in 5 minutes or less 🙂 and I’m sure I’m not the only one!

      1. What size are the jars you use for the salad-in-a-jar? What a wonderful idea. I am on day 7 of the 24 day challenge. All the tips I can get are helpful.

    1. Totally agree. A photo and a list of what the foods are! 😀 Maybe it can give you bumps in traffic when you link to older blog posts? Just like you did with the overnight oats link here. Ach, I don’t need to tell you that, you totally knew what you were doing there… 🙂

      Thanks for this wonderful post!

  8. Cosmos

    I have made a giant bowl of salad for the week, and made a main dish or two to have leftovers, but I’ve never done that much comprehensive food preparation,and I can’t wait to start! I think it will make a huge difference in getting through the week with unplanned indulgences due to laziness (confession!!) and when I start working again it will be one of the best ways to transition back to full time work after over 18 months off.

    Thanks for this post!

  9. Yep. Can’t say I’ve ever done any food prepping! My breakfasts and lunches are pretty simple, though, so I haven’t really felt the need. I will eat oatmeal or granola for breakfast, and leftovers from the night before for lunch.

    I do want to add more salads to my lunches, though. Easy way to get in more greens!

  10. Cassie! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea! I am on my way out, right now, to Walmart to see if I can locate some cheap jars. The salad in the a jar idea is pure brilliance. My plan, this afternoon, was to get some things together for lunches and dinners this week, and this food prep blog has completely inspired me! Thank you!

  11. I am loving all the meal prep ideas out there lately! I’m a huge Sunday food-prepper.

    For breakfast I love oatmeal bakes, egg sandwiches to pop out of the freezer, hard boiled eggs and homemade bars. For lunch I also love salads in jar or SOUP. Love soup. Also, leftovers! For snacks I usually just have fruit, popcorn or yogurt. I also chop all my veggies/do any long prepwork for dinner recipes on Sunday.

    It makes the week so much easier!

  12. Wow! That’s amazing! The most I ever do is that I’ve started making two servings of dinner each night and packing one right away for the next day’s lunch. I don’t know if my brain is capable of being this organized. Your things look really yummy too.

  13. In my house, food is a challenging thing… Thus, meal planning can be a little challenging.

    I’m a recovering picky eater who’s trying to expand her palate to include healthy things (like vegetables) but that process is still filled with a lot of anxiety. My partner is an unapologetic picky eater who has no desire to change his habits, he’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy and thinks that things that are green are gross (with the notable exception of mint ice cream). Our roommate will eat anything you put in front of him, but you have to constantly remind him to eat the food because he doesn’t want to be a bother.

    My partner has a few dishes that he likes to cook on his days off that stock the fridge with something to eat… Lasagna, roast beef hash, and scalloped potatoes. Beyond that… There is no meal plan.

  14. Sophie

    I have to ask – do you keep the smoothies in the freezer or fridge? I generally make smoothies the night before and leave ’em in the fridge, and even within 12 hours they get kind of liquid-y. Or maybe I am too picky. 😉 I love the new design, btw!

    1. Cassie

      In the fridge! And it depends on the ingredients. Just as long I don’t include greens or thickeners (like chia or flax) it’s always fine for me.

      1. Belinda

        Another option, that I do for my green smoothies, is to chop up all of the ingredients eg. (cucumber, spinach and pineapple) and put them in individual bags in the freezer. That way, when I need to make one I just empty a bag into the blender and add cocount water.
        This was a great post – time for me to get more organised!

    2. Karen

      I prep my smoothies for the week ahead of time too. I use bottles from Kombucha that I bought and drank and peeled off the label. I make sure to leave some room at the top, then put them in the freezer. Let them freeze overnight before putting the top on. In the morning, I put one in a hot water bath to defrost while I do other morning tasks and get ready.
      Love your prepping ideas, Cassie! I’ll definitely be trying some of those. Thanks for sharing!

  15. This is fantastic! What a wonderful resource. Love all of your meal and snack ideas 🙂 Do the veggies stay fresh over a whole week? I think this kind of prep would help me SO much! Thank you for this excellent post! Love your blog! xo

    1. Cassie

      The veggies dry out a little bit, but they are still definitely edible and crunchy at the end of the week. Dip ’em hummus and they’re great! 🙂

      1. Megan

        I add a little water to my containers of cut-up carrots and celery to keep them from drying out. Keeps then tasty all week!! And — although it’s an added expense — my latest favorite things are the individually portioned cups of hummus from Costco! I just grab a handful of veggies from my container, toss in a little pack of hummus, and I’m on my way!

  16. Thank you for sharing this bit of genius…I’m on track to do this- love the uniform pyrex containers- very visually appealing too- and I tell ya food is so much about that…and of course taste and reachability. I’m feeling motivated to make this my own!

    Cheers!

  17. Hey Cassie it’s me! (Corrie from Blurb Column, now Casa Beebe.) YES YES YES! I food prep regularly on the weekends, including an inventory of the fridge/freezer/pantry, menu, grocery list, shopping, and then prepping for the week. Lots of chopped veggies, cooked grains or eggs, other easy to grab snacks, lots of fruit. This is SUCH a lifesaver for me. Like you, if healthy food is easy to grab I eat it. On the weeks that the food prep/menu planning doesn’t get done we are about 1000 x’s more likely to eat out multiple times, or just eat junkier food overall. Food prep is where it’s at!

  18. Hi Cassie,

    i just dropped in to your amazing space from foodgawker and I am completely awed by the idea of food prepping to this extent and specially the salad in a jar. You have the dressing on the bottom, and hte lighter foods n top so when you want to delve in to them you simply give it a good shake…is it a mason jar? I love love love it! Do the greens/lettuce stay crunchy? That really helps as the greens sometimes wilts by the end of the week….Looking good and inspiring me to try it out too!

    Shobha

    1. Cassie

      Yup, just as long as you keep the lettuce away from the dressing (and any other juicy veggies like tomatoes), it’ll stay crisp all through the week.

  19. Awesome job on your weight loss and eating healthy! We also food prep/shop on Sunday’s for the week. We grill chicken breasts on Sunday’s for our salads for the week for lunches. We do assemble the morning of, but have everything prepared and ready to go. My sweeetie cooks us egg white omelettes every morning,we looove eggs! We also do the smoothie thing, but we keep ours in the blender in the fridge and give it a quick mix before packing into out lunch. I agree, this is a big diet and budget savor! Cheers~

  20. An

    Preparing like this may seem a good idea, but it is not. Sure, you can make bars, muffins, bean burgers, but cuting your veggies beforehand will make them lose most of the vitamines. Your fruitsmoothies have same problem. They will oxidate within a few hours. Preparing is a good thing, but this is not healthier than eating white bread for instance. An, from Holland

    1. Cassie

      I’ve never heard that cutting veggies makes them lose nutrients, interesting! I’ve heard that they start losing nutrients the second they are chopped of the stalk and when they are cooked, but never that just by cutting them into smaller pieces. Do you have any sources I can read up about it to learn more? Thanks!

      1. An

        I’m sorry, this information comes from dutch dietician books, so, I don’t have that information in English.

      2. This comment intrigued me so I did a quick little search. I know this is an old post but thought you might still be interested:

        María I. Gil, Encarna Aguayo, Adel A. Kader. “Quality Changes and Nutrient Retention in Fresh-Cut versus Whole Fruits during Storage.” J. Agric. Food Chem., 54 (12), 4284 -4296, 2006. 10.1021/jf060303y S0021-8561(06)00303-7. Accessed May 5, 2016. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf060303y.

        I still intend to precut my vegies. If I don’t, I don’t eat them. And slightly less vitamin filled vegies is better than no vegies in my opinion!

    1. Cassie

      I’m actually not sure! We switched to all glass a few years back (before I started prepping) so I’m not sure if that makes a difference or not.

      1. Glass is definitely better than plastics for foods where there might be a risk of chemicals from the plastic leaking into the food. It’s more likely with liquids and things containing fats and acids. Probably doesn’t make much difference for carrot sticks, but I think you’re wise to go with all glass anyway.

  21. Michelle

    I used to food prep all the time when I worked, now that I am home with the kids, I don’t. The reality is, I should food prep more. For me and the kids. Thanks for the ideas!

  22. Here from Clothilde’s at Chocolate and Zucchini. I wondered about nutrient loss, as I’d heard that about cutting too. I’ve always tended to avoid things like bought coleslaw and, here in France, the carrottes râpées – pre-shredded and dressed carrot salad, for that reason – plus also things kept in dressing don’t stay so nice anyway. But according to this

    http://nutrition.about.com/od/askyournutritionist/f/cutveg.htm

    there’s not much to worry about anyway, since you keep the veg in airtight containers in the ‘fridge and eat them within the week. And it seems to me that doing it this way means you get to eat more veg anyway, especially raw, which would more than make up for any slight loss of vitamin C and carotenes, the only things seemingly affected.

    So keep up the good work, which is truly awesome and inspirational! I’m not sure I’d have room in my fridge for all this mind, unless I suppose I got that a bit more organised too…

  23. Margit Van Schaick

    Please post some dinner prep ideas: what you do ahead that pays off the same way your breakfast/lunch ideas do. Years ago, when my three children were small and I was working full-time and going to law school evenings(!), we managed to eat well by using week- end food prep. I was actually learning to cook from Julia Child , James Beard,and Joy of Cooking. The key thing that proved most helpful was that I made three big dinners, doubling them (baked ham, beef stew, roast chicken, for example) and eating a dinner meal from each every other day. For lunches, we would make sandwiches with the left-over roast meats or add them to pre-prepared veggies for healthful, yummy salads. On the next week-end, I would use any left-overs to make split pea soup, chicken soup, and pot pies with the last of the ham, chicken, and stew. To that, I would add another roast, such as pork, and make some meatballs for a pasta dinner and /or a rice dish. Baked fish and shrimp were additional staples. Preparing veggies on the week-end was a huge help. We had a running contest to see how many different veggies we used to make salad— often we managed to have nine! Also, I made a point of buying fruit in season, generous amounts, so it was always available for snacks or dessert.

  24. Mary Meade

    I love your ideas, I prep on Sunday and Monday, I add tuna sslad and potatoe salad and cole slaw and egg salad. i make little differences every week. The blessing of fresh homemade food keeps us from being bored. I love your pictures and will do the same this week.

  25. Linda Collins

    Hi Cassie,

    Love your blog!!!! A friend forwared it to me and described it as “inspirational” I too think you are inspriational!!!!. Thanks..

    One question, what is the recipe for the item on your “How I Prep Food for the Week” just to the right of the salads in a jar??? Looks like a mimi quiche and it looks yummy!

    Thanks and please keep posting,
    Linda

  26. Tiffany

    I really love the idea of baking a loaf of bread every week and the salad in a jar. I am going to give meal prepping a try (after I clean out my fridge..yikes!) Thanks!

  27. I LOVE doing food prep on weekends it is the best thing! I tried your salad in a jar idea and I loved it so it’s become one of my favorite things to do for lunch. I also tried the pistachio stuffed dates and they are now one of my favorites! Actually, this post really helped me redefine the way I do food. So incredibly helpful, thank you! I’m planning to do a gluten free food prep post on my site. Hope you can check it out! http://saltlicklessons.com/

  28. This is such a fantastic way to operate, I have never thought of taking it to this level but it really makes sense. I am a long hours, come home and grab whats convenient kind of girl and I can tell that this would solve all my problems. A wonderful way to be organised. Thanks so much for sharing! I’m definitely going to try this.

  29. CelloPepper

    Have tried the salads-in-a-jar, herbed turkey and egg cups, overnight oatmeal, peanut date balls and black bean sliders (I made full-size burgers). Yum, yum, yum! Thanks for sharing – super helpful.

  30. I found your blog through Pinterest and I love all of your food posts! I am a recent subscriber. I was a little surprised when I saw one of your recipes recently – not because of the recipe, but because I realized we have the same name! First and last! If your middle name is Nicole… that would just be crazy! 🙂

  31. I saw your blog and have been trying our meal prep for a week as well. Would love to get your opinion on how I did healthylivying.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/meal-prep-first-timer/ 🙂

  32. So, I discovered your blog on Pinterest annnnnnnnnnd basically, I’m SO HAPPY THAT I DID!!! I have been trying to find a good meal plan (because I’m a college students & eating the same meals each week can get annoying), and haven’t had any luck, until now. I am going to the grocery store tomorrow to get ingredients for that quinoa salad (it sounds delicious!). Hope you have a great day, and I can’t wait to see what you post next. 😀

  33. Ali

    I was wondering if you could share a simple meal plan for the week. You’ve showed us your food prep and materials…but could you share a list of M-F what you have as options for each B, L, and D?

    This would help me as I’m currently doing a lot of food prep and researching other people that do this as well. I think I end up picking way to many options and making way to many different things. Do you end up repeating a lot of meals the way that you prep your food?

    Some nights we will have a Kashi pizza, soup and salad, fruit salad or add grilled chicken, chicken/veggie tacos, quinoa goulash, spaghetti squash bake, grilled chicken breast with veggies, ground turkey sliders. These are some of our go to usuals. But there are so many different things we do for dinner (and we have leftovers as well) it normally engulfs the fridge and we spend a lot of weeknight cooking.

    I think right now all the prep I’m doing ends up being for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. Some of the veggie slicing prep helps with easy dinner salads, etc.

  34. Judy

    I always feel better about the work week if I have my lunches already made. I’ve been on a big kale Caesar salad kick…I make it with nonfat Greek yogurt and almost zero olive oil and toss in a can of cannelini beans for extra protein. It lasts forever. But today I made your Greek salad..delicious! Reminds me tabouli.

  35. Ashley

    Great prepping!! Do your cut veggies stay fresh in the 8×8 glass dish and for appx how many days? Trying to come up with something that will keep them fresh too!

    1. Cassie

      They’ll last dry for a few days, but they can last much longer if you store them submerged in water (even ice water, if you have a cold enough fridge). My grandparents always had an old gallon ice cream container with ice water and cut carrots, cauliflower and celery in it in their fridge for snacking!

  36. Misty

    Gorgeous pictures and fantastic meal ideas! I’m prepping to do this tomorrow (Sunday) to help have a better week food wise this coming week and this was a huge boon to my planning phase. Thank you!

  37. Jessica

    This is great! I was wondering what your food budget is like? I have been cooking more clean and my budget has gone up. Can you do this on a budget?

    1. Cassie

      Our grocery budget is $500 per month. And YES, you can do this on a budget. In fact, I think it’s better for a budget, because you are cooking in bulk and avoiding eating out!

      1. Christina

        Hi. I just found your site and love it! How many people do you feed on 500 a month? Also, do you keep count of calories? Thanks.

      2. Cassie

        Hi! That’s no longer our food budget because my job is now recipe development, so groceries are a business expense. But before that, $500 was for two people eating mostly whole foods and organic. And no, I don’t track calories. 🙂

  38. Arika

    Oh my!! Just stumbled across you on interest! This is all so awesome. I just had to change the way I eat, no more white flour for me anymore, and have been looking for some ideas. Just found them! Thank you:)

  39. Nancy

    This is so helpful – thank you! I just started working with a nutritionist and know this approach will really help me to improve my eating habits!

  40. livia romeiro

    Do you know how you can inspire people around whole world? Yes! You inspired me here in Brasil to use this food organization. our no-time-life prejudice our diet directly! thanks for the willingness to share your routine with everyone! I hope to continue using your knowledge fot the health of my family!!! Thanks again!!!

  41. Jessica

    I have to say that after reading this, I, for the first time, feel like I can do this type of meal prep. I usually read these things and say “it’s too hard to figure out.” Or “I still don’t know where/how to start.”
    This is seriously the first time I feel ready to do it! And I have read many…and popular ones!
    Thank you!!!

  42. Yohanna

    Hi , I want to know when you make the box of raw vegetables for a period of 5 days is this – they stay fresh ? if so at what temperature

  43. Do your smoothies stay good in the fridge being already blended up? I’ve wanted to prep smoothies before but get worries and put them a few days later and being separated.

  44. Sally

    I love these ideas!! I also have to say that my sis and I are always saying ‘yeeeesh’ to eachother!! LOL I love that it was in your text! Bumped up your credibility for me! 😉

  45. teresa

    Hey… First time reading your blog. Great ideas! Curious if you would share your granola recipe. Been trying some and haven’t fallen in love yet. Do you make into bars?
    Going to do some prep this week!

    Thanks

  46. Colin

    I buy my fruit and vegetables and chop them into manageable sizes then into ziplock bags and into the freezer. I’ve had a Sleeve Gastrectomy (stomach surgery) 27th November 2014, so I need to concentrate on getting protein in first then anything else is a bonus. Only able to eat approx 150ml of anything, so a typical meal consists of frozen portion of fish plus whatever rainbow assortment of veg I can do.

  47. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I in finding this matter to be really one thing which I believe I would by no means understand. It seems too complicated and extremely extensive for me. I’m taking a look forward for your next publish, I’ll attempt to get the grasp of it!

  48. Shay

    I love food prepping. My kitchen is my laboratory. My favorite things to prep for the week is fruit, vegetables, beans, stir fry, chili, vegetables soup, turkey breakfast sausage, biscuits, chicken, ground chicken or ground turkey. I can go on and on. Plan to start a food prepping business. If you know anyone who lives in the Atlanta area I’d be glad to assist them with food prepping and cleaning service.

  49. Christine

    Hey Cassie! I came across this link on a recent Buzzfeed listicle and I absolutely love this! I’m striving to eat more balanced meals but often just don’t have the energy beyond cooking what’s within reach (and it’s normally not the best foods for me). I was going to experiment with grocery shopping and meal planning on the weekend and scheduling times to cook throughout the week, but as someone who works really well on momentum, I love this method!

    I recently moved from my hometown of LA to Southern Indiana (so a bit of an inverse of your story as well as a mirror to it currently), and will be moving to Louisville soon, where I hope to implement techniques like yours in my house once I gain more control over the kitchen and pantry. So glad to meet and learn from someone so close by!

  50. Hi there! Love that you shared this! I too prep almost all my food for the week to stay healthy and on track! I never really thought about posting what I do on my blog either but I think you may have inspired me to re-think it! Thank you!

  51. Heather Lang

    Love your blog…this post…and your recipes!! Quick question…on the second picture of your food displayed you have what looks like a black bean salad…but it’s not listed. And is there a recipe listed somewhere? Thank you

  52. Diane McFarlin

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is wonderful and the ideas are fabulous!! I would like to do a sight with photo’s and recipes like yours, but you are just perfect!!! Thank you for sharing!!

    Diane

  53. Kim

    What I love the most about this: You showed the dirty dishes you accumulated and didn’t gloss over it. This gives me no misconceptions about it and although it may seem more daunting to some, I thought, “I’ve had more dishes just trying to prepare a dinner party for eight, and that was one meal!” Thank you for sharing your experience here. 🙂

  54. GeeGee

    Is that what you posted is for a week and for two of you? Looks little !! Or it’s enough? Can you please give us ideas always on what to prep. I find this so confusing !!!? how to decide!

  55. Everything looks delicious & I love how easy it is to eat healthy food all week.when you do this! I linked to this on my blog, too. Thanks for sharing your awesome meal prep!

  56. Wow! Thank you for posting this. It encouraged me to blog about my meal prep. For breakfast (oatmeal jars, farina, veggie omelette); 3 roasted/grilled/broiled/baked fish or chicken; 3 starches (rice/quinoa/sweet potatoes); 3 veggies (baby spinach, tuscan kale, 3 other veggies); snack (green fruit smoothie, fruit, granola); extra protein (crockpot beans, lentils, whey protein). I usually keep my veggies and carbs on the simple side (chicken base, sea salt, peppercorn medley) just in case I want to use them for a salad toppers, in soups, or a side dish for any ethnic dish. I usually season my meats for a selected ethnic theme (cuban, italian, hispanic, caribbean, american, etc). I usually make at least one ethnic dish each week so I have something exciting to look forward to.

    I mix and match to minimize boredom.

    Most of the food I cook is portioned out in 1 cup servings, placed in plastic storage containers and frozen. This way, if I do not get a chance to eat something, I can eat it the next week.

  57. Hannah

    Hello love this post just a quick question .. Do the overnight oats stay fresh all week ? … Ohh also do you have the recipe for the granola bars ? Ta

    1. From my experience, the oats themselves stay fresh but if you’re adding fruit, I would do it on the day of eating, otherwise it starts to taste funky after a couple of day.s

  58. 24hourdepot

    Great Post! Everyone is genetically built a little different. I have found eating for my body type has really improved my macronutrient caloric intake. Also, I have found by using the handful method and by using pre-measured meal prep container like http://macrostacks.com versus measuring spoons and cups I am more consistent with proper nutrition for my body type.

    Thanks for the post!!

  59. Kimmy

    Thank you very much for the post. This is he first time I saw your site and I’ll sure come back. I’m a beginner in meal planning so the posts like yours help me a lot. Thank you.

  60. Madison M.

    Hi! I’m just beginning to food prep for my partner and I but am confused about the correct way to start, we just moved into a new house and got a costco membership! We have gone over your recipes and LOVE all of them. But here’s the real question: we need to make a beginning shopping list, what needs to be on that list? Can you make a “must-have” fridge and pantry list? so we can slowly build our stores! Thank you so much!

  61. Stephanie

    Great information! I agree that weekend prep is a huge factor in my family eatting heathy, staying on budget, and saving time. I develop our weekly menu and grocery shop on Saturdays and then complete the food prep on Sundays. I prepare three week evening meals and snacks. Each night I blend the smoothies for breakfast while cleaning up the evening meal food. Since I work from home, I just throw together the left over ingredients from the prepped meals and create something for my lunches.

  62. Christie Thomas

    Silly question but what do you eat on the black bean burgers? If anything? no bun I am assuming? Thanks!

    1. Cassie

      Not a silly question! I eat them on a whole wheat bun, usually with avocado, sprouts, and tomatoes. Sometimes I crumble them onto salads. 🙂

  63. JACQUELINE NAIDOO

    Hi There, im so glad i found your blog, love all your great ideas about preparing for the week, definitely going to try this . thank you

  64. As for me, during the week I try to eat all foods containing vitamins, including fruits, vegetables, cereals, fish and meat. The only thing I don’t like is cooking food:) Thanks for sharing!

  65. Bella Hardy

    This is absolutely magnificent, scrumptious, delicious and healthy food! I found your post from Pinterest Cassie! Thx for sharing!

  66. I love your website and have learned so much.
    I definitely do meal prep days. To make it easier, I’ve typed up a list on a Word document of food prep tasks that I do on a regular basis. As I plan meals, I circle or highlight the tasks I need to do on meal prep days. (Obviously, I don’t do ALL of the tasks listed, just the ones I need for whatever meals I’ve planned.) Here’s the list:
    OPEN CANNED GOODS &/OR RINSE & DRAIN CANNED BEANS
    • Canned Pineapple Chunks
    • Chickpeas
    • Black Beans
    • Pinto Beans or Navy or Cannellini Beans
    ROAST, BOIL, STEAM, OR BLANCH VEGETABLES
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Asparagus
    • Beets
    • Onions
    • Peppers
    • Carrots
    • Sweet Peppers
    • Sugar Snaps
    • Green Beans
    • Broccoli
    PREPARE FRUITS, VEGETABLES & HERBS
    • Separate Cauliflower Florets
    • Trim Asparagus, Celery, Carrots, Radishes & Store Upright In Water
    • Trim Scallions & Store Upright In Water
    • Trim Parsley & Cilantro, Store Upright In Water Covered With A Plastic Bag
    • Rinse & Prepare Grapes For Snacking
    • Make Zucchini Noodles
    • Destem Mushrooms, Rinse And Let Dry On A Towel, Then Store In A Paper Bag In Crisper
    PREPARE WHOLE GRAINS &/OR DRY BEANS/LEGUMES (STORE IN FRIDGE OR FREEZER)
    • Brown Rice
    • Quinoa
    • Whole-Wheat Pasta
    • Chickpeas, Navy Beans, Pinto Beans, Lentils
    • Millet
    PREPARE MAKE-AHEAD BREAKFASTS/SNACKS
    • Overnight Mason Jar Oats
    • Make Baked Oatmeal and Store in Fridge or Freezer
    • Portion Out Smoked Salmon
    • Hard Cook Eggs
    • Measure Out Smoothie Ingredients Into A Blender Pitcher & Chill In Fridge
    • Trim Carrots, Celery , Peppers, Cauliflower, And Radishes And Store In Glass Jars Filled With Water
    • Portion Out Hummus, Baba Ghanouj, Cottage Cheese Or Yogurt Dip
    PREPARE PROTEIN
    • Cook Ground Turkey, Sausage Or Beef
    • Cook Chicken Breasts
    • Roast A Whole Chicken
    • Roast Salmon Fillet
    • Press & Marinate Tofu OR Steam Tempeh
    • Drain & Flake Canned Tuna Or Salmon
    • Break Eggs Into A Bowl & Scramble
    • Hard-Cook Eggs
    • Cook Edamame
    • Cook Bacon Then Freeze Meat & Grease
    • Trim and Cut Chicken Breasts into Portions
    • Place Lunch Meats and Sliced Cheese in Glass Containers
    PREPARE SALAD INGREDIENTS
    • Rinse & Spin Lettuces & Spinach
    • Chop Carrots, Cucumber, Peppers
    • Halve Cherry Tomatoes
    • Make Vinaigrette Or Dressing
    PREPARE VEGETABLE BROTH &/OR CHICKEN STOCK
    SHRED &/OR CRUMBLE CHEESES
    • Parmesan
    • Feta &/Or Blue Cheese
    • Cheddar &/Or Gruyere
    • Mozzarella
    PREPARE HERB/SPICE MIXES &/OR DRY MIXES FOR BAKING
    PREPARE WHOLE-GRAIN MUFFINS OR BREAD OR TREAT
    • Slice Whole-Grain English Muffins In Half In Advance
    • Bake Muffins, Bread Or Other Treat For Lunches
    PREPARE GRANOLA &/OR ROASTED NUTS/SEEDS
    CUT BUTTER INTO ½-TABLESPOON SLICES
    POP POPCORN & STORE FOR SNACKING
    THAW FREEZER FOODS/MEALS
    SLICE ENGLISH MUFFINS
    PUT OLIVES IN A SHALLOW GLASS BOWL WITH A LID
    MAKE A SLOW-COOKER SOUP OR SLOW-COOKER MAIN DISH
    MAKE CHOCOLATE HUMMUS OR ARTICHOKE-BASIL SPREAD OR CINNAMON YOGURT DIP
    MAKE ONE-BOWL BLUEBERRY ALMOND BREAKFAST COOKIES
    MAKE GARLIC & HERB TOFU & CASHEW SPREAD

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Meet Cassie
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Hello. I’m Cassie, and I’m excited you are here!

I'm a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. Come along as I explore good food, holistic wellness, natural homekeeping, gardening, and all the other things that bring me joy!

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