Meal prepping always sounds like a great idea (for other people). People with time, energy, cooking skills, matching Tupperware… at least that’s the story we’ve been telling ourselves—until now. We caught up with Meryl Pritchard, nutritionist and founder of organic meal-delivery service Kore Kitchen, and we learned that basically anyone can master meal prep with a little planning and strategy. Yes, even those of us with subpar culinary skills and borderline bad attitudes.
Read on for Pritchard’s holy-grail guide to meal prepping like a pro.
Does prepping a week’s worth of food sound too daunting for you? Don’t stress. “Most people meal prep on Sunday nights, but making a week’s worth of meals is a lot of work, and can be overwhelming. Even at Kore Kitchen, we prep two to three days worth of meals at a time,” Pritchard says. “You also don’t necessarily have to meal-prep all your meals. Even just preparing lunches and snacks will give you more time during the week and make an impact on your overall health and wellness,” she advises.
Get Strategic with Your Shopping List
If the thought of drafting a meal prep shopping list sounds scary, think meal by meal. “The easiest and most economical way to organize it is by meal—plan out your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack for each day, and then break it down by ingredients,” Pritchard suggests.
“At Kore Kitchen, we do a variety of superfood smoothies for breakfast, salads and grain bowls for lunch, and something warm for dinner—usually a green, grain, and protein. Make sure you are cooking recipes you like and not just what you think you should be eating because otherwise, you won’t eat it. Use Pinterest for inspiration, try new flavors and spices, and incorporate seasonal produce. That will keep it from being bland, boring, and predictable.”
Figure Out How Much You Need
Buying the right amount of groceries is a feat in itself—especially when you’re cooking for one or two people—but Pritchard has some tips. “I prefer to shop in bulk when it comes to grains, oils, beans, nuts, seeds, etc. This not only reduces the amount of packaging you'll be bringing home, but it will reduce the cost overall if you know you’re going to use those items in other meals.
“For produce, try to purchase fresh every couple of days. This is how most Europeans shop, whereas Americans are used to stocking up on everything from Costco a couple times a month. Once you start meal-prepping for yourself, you will get a good sense for how much of certain items you will use and be able to plan better for the next week. Keep track of what you have leftover and how you can turn that into a meal. Otherwise, make a reminder to buy less the following week.”
Add These Staples to Your Cart
All of Kore Kitchen’s recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free, and Pritchard was kind enough to share her core (pun intended) staples with us:
- Frozen and fresh fruit for smoothies and snacks—berries, banana, mango or pineapple, citrus
- Quinoa, brown rice
- Lentils, black beans, chickpeas
- Coconut and olive oil
- Cashews, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds
- Protein powder
- Greens for salads—spinach, arugula, romaine, kale (Kore Kitchen tries to rotate them each day)
- Veggies—avocado, broccoli, snap peas, carrots, cauliflower, cherry tomato, beets
- Squash and starchy vegetables—spaghetti squash, kabocha, sweet potato, butternut. These are good for soups and incorporating into meals.
- Lemons or juice for salad dressings and smoothies
- Almond or cashew butter
- Animal proteins—fish, chicken, turkey
Get Cooking (You Can Do This)
You’ve made it this far—we promise you’ve got this. “Start with a prep list. List out all the meals you want to make, and break them down into components. Start with the items that will take the longest to cook first. For example, if you’re making a quinoa bowl with sautéed veggies, it might look like: cook quinoa, while the quinoa is cooking, you can chop veggies and prepare them to sauté, once those items are cooling, you can work on the lemon tahini dressing, and wash the greens you want to mix in with them.”
“If you have two dishes with quinoa in it, make sure you make the quinoa for both of those dishes at the same time. Multitasking is key—learn to work on a couple items at the same time. It may take some time to get comfortable in the kitchen, and that’s okay,” Pritchard says. See below for some of our favorite recipes:
- 9 Healthy Recipes That Are Actually Filling
- 7 Low-Carb Recipes for Busy Girls
- 4 Things Every Fit Girl Eats for Breakfast
- A Filling, Low-Cal Lunch Option That Costs Less Than $2 a Day
- Under-500 Calorie Dinners That Are Easy to Make
Are you a meal-prep pro or newbie? Tell us your approach in our Facebook group.