Meal prepping sounds like something a really responsible, pearl-wearing mom from the 1960s would do, right? Or maybe something that conspiracy theorist doomsdayers would do. But, in reality, it’s just something super busy smart people do. That’s because super busy smart people know that eating on the run every day and dining out every night is bad for your health and your bottom line (and your bottom!).

Some super busy smart science people did some research and found that people who plan and prep their meals ahead of time eat healthier, consume more fruits and veggies and are less likely to be obese.

If meal prepping seems daunting and way too time-consuming, we got you, boo. Here are some tips to get your started on your way to prepping like a pro.

Make a plan
Meal planning and prepping go hand-in-hand. So before you ever step foot inside the grocery store, make a plan, fam.

There are a ton – like a TON – of meal prep ideas on Pinterest. From snacks to dinners, you’ll find healthy ideas and recipes galore. We suggest creating a Pinterest board called “Meal Prep This Week” or something similar. Add the recipes and ideas you want for just that week to the board. Trying to plan more than a week at a time can get super complicated. Then make your grocery list. To keep costs down and keep things simple, try to steer clear of meals that require specialty ingredients.

Equally as important as your meal plan is planning when you will do your weekly meal prep. Most people carve out time on Sunday to prep for the week to come. But if your work schedule or lifestyle make this difficult, you can prep at any old time, as long as you have a couple of hours to devote to it.

Baby steps
There’s no rule that says you have to prep ALL your meals for the week. You can choose to just prep lunch to take to work, or just snacks, or just dinners—it’s all about what works best for you.

If your reason for meal prepping is saving money because your coworkers are like, “Hey, let’s go eat at that new [fill in the blank] place” every single day to the point where half of your paycheck is going into lunches, you’ll probably want to prep lunches. If your goal is to cut out afternoon trips to the vending machine, focus on prepping healthy snacks.

Build your arsenal
Nothing makes meal prepping easier than having a toolbox full of little kitchen helpers. Nope, not the kids (do they ever REALLY help anyway?). We’re talking the ultimate tools of the meal prep trade:

  • Slow cooker and/or pressure cooker – One is great. Both is better. Why? Because you can prep two things at once, of course! Have some chili cooking in your slow cooker while you cook a roast in your pressure cooker. The possibilities are endless, really.  
  • Plastic meal prep containers – How many plastic containers with lids you need will depend on how many meals you’re prepping for the week. Divided containers are even better. Stackable containers for an organized fridge – better still!
  • Muffin tins – You’ll find that a lot of meal prep recipes use muffin tins to make things like egg cups.
  • Knives and cutting boards – If you don’t already have these, you’ll need them for preparing your ingredients.
  • Food processor and/or blender – Speaking of preparing ingredients, a food processor is a God-send for quick slicing and dicing. A blender is particularly handy if you’ll be including smoothies or soups on your menu.

By the way, you can find a lot, if not all, of these tools at Gordmans at prices that are totally budget friendly.

Mise in place, please!
Mise in place is a fancy cooking term that technically means “everything in its place,” but it also means having all of your ingredients sliced, diced, grated, measured and ready to go before you start cooking. This may not seem like a big deal, but it kind of is because it makes meal prep go a lot faster and more smoothly when you’re not dicing the carrots for the soup while you’re cooking the chicken for the chili, etc.

Now that you’re prepped with tips to meal prep like a boss, you can start making your plan to save money and eat healthier.