Sundays are great days to cook. I pick Sundays because most people are off from work on this holy day. If you need a reference for that, go to a grocery store on a Sunday and prove me wrong. This article is intended for those who are willing to dedicate 1-3 hours a week for meal preparation. Please do not read if you do not wish to:

Save money Save time Eat better Lose weight (fat)

So how to remedy that problem? With a little bit of planning and preparation. Now, most people simply don’t cook. They would rather eat out spending much more money they could put towards more productive things or even just saving it. Let’s do a quick math to show you that.

Let’s say the average cost of a meal in the U.S. at a restaurant is $12.75. You spend that much for lunch and dinner at least 5 days per week. That would total $127.5 only in those two meals without counting breakfast or snacks, that’s over $500 per month only eating in restaurants. What if tell you, you could do breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 1-2 snacks for $100. That would still leave you $27.5 for a couple of meals out, maybe on weekends? If you do not believe me, check out my last grocery-shopping list where we spent $115 for two people!!

Now, the saving money part aside, let’s get into the needy greedy. How do I do this? Perfect. Now that you asked, here is 5-step system for a successful meal prep:

Make a list of your needs

Go to the kitchen, and search for whatever you are missing, and whatever you will need to buy to start. Going to the grocery store without a list is like going to the war without a gun (wow, I suck at analogies, but you get the point). You simply just don’t do it. How to make that list?

Knowing what kind of meals you are going to prepare. In my lists, I usually think: “Okay, I am going to make 2 meat entrees, 3 starch sides, and 2 vegetables sides” and I base my list off of that.

Meats (typically 2 types)

Produce (2-3 fruits and 3-4 vegetable options) – Example: strawberries, bananas, apples, and pineapple, and for vegetables, zuchinni, broccoli, spinach/kale, and sweet potatoes

Dairy and dairy products (Greek yogurts and such)

Starches – (typically rice, pasta, breads, potatoes, etc)

Other Stuff – this is what you will find in your aisles that will complete your shopping cart. Foods in aisles are only meant to complement what you buy around the store.

We will leave the grocery shopping tips for a later post.

Do an expedited grocery shopping run

If you do not set a time when you are buying foods, chances are you will spend more time (and money) than you would normally do. I started setting time caps to purchase all my stuff, and try to beat that time every time I go now. It is kind of fun! Last time I bought everything under 25 minutes.

Cook as soon as you buy!

Once you arrive home with your groceries, start cooking!!! If you un-bag all your food, store it, and leave it for later, chances are you will not do anything until you throw it all away because the food went bad. Trust me, it has happened to me.

This part is set up this way:

  • Prepping the kitchen: First turn on the oven and set to bake at 400 degrees (if you will be using it). Set a big pot of water to boil (chances are you will use boiling water for one or two things, so you might as well have it ready).

  • Cooking – This is the challenging part, because we want to eat things that taste good. Mastering this part takes time, but that’s why I try to follow some sort of recipe to make sure the food has some good flavor. I will post more on this soon.

  • Bagging/Packing – This is part where all your food is in pots and pans, so it is just a matter of mix and matching in little containers (which hopefully you will have purchased already)

Meats first, starches second, vegetables last!

  • Get your meats out of the way – if you are cooking chicken, remove the extra fat, add and marinate or season to your taste.  I typcically bake my chicken after seasoned for about 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees (Do not overcook it or it will be dry and taste like a shoe)

  • Starches – cut up your potatoes, or portion out your rice/pasta and bake or boil depending on the side.

  • Vegetables – decide how you will cook your veggies, but baking or steaming them are the faster and quicker ways!

Bag it all!!!

Lay out your plastic containers. If you are doing 10 meals (5 lunches and 5 dinners), make sure you portion out your prepared food accordingly. There is nothing more annoying than having two plates short on potatoes. This will happen but with time you learn how to adjust portions better.

What is left from here is to take 3 minutes in the morning to put all your beatifully prepared meals in a bag or cooler and endure your day. My meals I usually complement with granola bars, fruits, or other snacks in between to keep my energy levels up.

I can think of at least 10 reasons why this is a better way to go about eating, but I will save you the time and let you experience it yourself. It doesn’t have to be massive prep like this one….

…but it only takes for you to cook the entire tray of chicken one night instead of the one you will be eating, or making 3 cups of rice instead of 1 for that dinner you are preparing.

Time and convenience are pretty valuable things we all need. Meal prepping is the perfect solution for a simple problem… lack of time.

Vive Nutrition will be rolling out meal plan guides for people that have no idea what they are doing. From the list of things to buy, to the exact meals you will be preparing. We will do the figuring out part for you. You will only need to do the labor.

If you fell in love with this post, leave your comments below, or simply share it so more people can learn about this.  Until next time….