Meal prepping has been all the rage lately; seems like everybody has been talking about it, and for good reason: meal prepping has some huge benefits. It can cut cooking time, and ensure you have good healthy food when you need it. On the downside, it’s heavy on planning until you get in the swing of it.
To help expedite the planning process, I have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to meal prep for a week, from grocery list to clean up. Pro tip: employ the “I cook, you clean” rule, because there will be a lot of dishes. Sadly, this does not work if you live by yourself.
Plan breakfast ahead
This meal prep plan will not include breakfast, so I encourage you to have a quick, easy breakfast recipe, if you are a breakfast eater. I have a quick smoothie every morning for breakfast or scramble eggs with grits. Both are simple and I can prepare them practically on autopilot.
This is a step by step guide for preparing lunch and dinner for a week, for about 2 people. You can follow along with the text and pictures, or you can watch the video, which condenses it down to the most important steps.
You can adjust the recipes to suit you and your family’s food preferences. Check out the menu and if you’d like to follow my plans exactly, and email me if you’d like the full grocery list.
You’ll want 3-4 baking pans lined with aluminum foil coated with a light layer of olive oil. You’ll also use a strainer, crock post and a cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a skillet, you can use another pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Marinate flat iron steak with Italian dressing in large ziploc bag. Return to fridge.
How to meal prep chicken
The secret to cooking chicken that doesn’t dry out is to coat chicken with olive oil on both sides before you season it. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, or seasoning of your choice, and put chicken in the oven.
Wash your hands.
Write on a post it note what time you put it in, and when you need to check it. Set timer if you’d like. I suggest checking in 45 minutes.
Slice about half an orange and half a lemon. Coat salmon with olive oil, Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic seasoning, and place citrus slices on salmon. Put salmon in the oven.
Update your post it note with time you put salmon in the oven, and time to check it. I suggest checking in 20 minutes.
How to meal prep vegetables
Line another pan with aluminum foil and olive oil.
Wash and dry asparagus, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. Of course, you can make more of one if you have a favorite. Chop the ends of the asparagus and brussels sprouts and discard. Chop the brussels sprouts and broccoli into bite sizes, and coat with olive oil and sea salt.
Fill boiling pot with water and set to high heat, to prepare for the shrimp boil.
While the water is heating up, the salmon should be ready to check. Be sure that it flakes when you gently pull it apart with a fork. If it does, it is done.
Remove it from the oven. This should make a little more room for the veggies, which are ready to be put in the oven.
How to meal prep a shrimp boil
Prep your shrimp boil veggies: peel corn ears and break in half, wash and quarter oranges, and wash mushrooms and red potatoes.
As soon as water begins to boil, add spices, bay leaves, and potatoes and corn.
After 5-10 minutes, add mushrooms and oranges to shrimp boil.
Don’t take your eyes off the shrimp! They only take about 4:00 to cook. Overcook them and they’ll stick to the shell when you peel them.
Important: when the shrimp are done, save the water to make rice. To do this, pour the shrimp through a strainer placed in a bowl.
How to meal prep rice
But first, it should be about time to check for the chicken to be done. I always use a thermometer on chicken because it should be well done for safety. Nobody’s got time for food sickness. Chicken should be 165 degrees measured on the thickest part of the biggest piece.
When the chicken is taken out of the oven, everything should be out. Set the oven to broil and let it heat up. Bring the water in the boiling pot back to a boil. When it is boiling, add in the rice. Follow the instructions on the rice for amount of rice to cook give your estimate of how much water is boiling.
How to meal prep a giant salad
Wash a few more mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and lettuce. I use a combination of romaine lettuce and spinach for my salad. To skip a step, you can buy the spinach pre washed in a bag, but always wash it again.
Combine all these ingredients in a big bowl and put back in the fridge. This is your dinner salad for all week. You can add to it as necessary.
Confession: I don’t time rice. Check it occasionally and stir. It will be done when most of the water is boiled out. Yes, I know, very helpful. You are welcome.
How to meal prep flat iron steak
The flat iron steak should be broiled about 5 minutes and then flipped over for 5 more minutes. I like the steak cooked in my cast iron, which isn’t big enough for both, so I did them separately.
Food safety and freshness
When I prep food, my preference is to prep only 3 days in advance. However, sometimes people prefer to prep for a whole week, as I am showing here. You’ll want to take a few steps to ensure the food you eat is good all week. There are a few ways to do this:
Freeze food that you will eat in 3-4 days or longer. Take out to thaw the night before.
Supplement prepped meals with healthy purchased meals through the week.
Have a big prep on Sunday, and then a mini prep for say, your protein, mid week.
One way to do this mini-prep is to prepare a crock pot recipe. Crock pots are so easy and make very tasty meals.
How to meal prep a roast in the crock pot
Pour broth into the crock pot first. Add the roast, beans, french onion soup cans, bay leaves, and more broth if you have it. From here, you can either start the crock pot, or put this back in the fridge, ready to cook tomorrow during the day.
When the flat iron steak is out of the oven, everything should be done and cooling. You have your choice of what to eat tonight, since all is available. Too add a lot more variety with a little bit of effort, you can make cooking night a taco night.
With just sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, cheese, an avocado and tortillas, you get one more entirely different meal. You can have chicken tacos, steak tacos, and any sides you’d like.
You’ll have a little bit of clean up but the foiled lined pans cuts that down tremendously. If you’ll be bringing lunches to work, I suggest putting them in Pyrex or Tupperware in their correct portions before you refrigerate them. If you will be coming home to dinner, you can condense food into pans and cover with fresh foil or Saran wrap, instead of portioning them.
I hope you found this guide helpful! I’d love to know how you use meal prepping and what tips you can share, too. Thanks for reading!
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.