How to Be a Meal-Prep Ninja

May 1, 2018

By Gabi Conti

Meal prep. Just those two words together sound intimidating, don’t they?

Every Sunday morning we tell ourselves, we’re going to do it this week. We’re not going to buy lunch every day and order takeout every night. We’re going to save money and make fresh, healthy meals at home by shopping and cooking lots of good stuff in advance.

But then, Sunday night rolls around and something else always comes up (darn you, American Idol!). The whole idea of meal prepping just sounds like… too much.

No more: With a little planning and multi-tasking, a solid playlist and a little over an hour of your Sunday, you can do some simple meal prep that will hook you up for the work week. Follow this easy plan and you’ll have five days’ worth of delicious, healthy, budget-friendly meals, that will keep you satisfied and eating clean.

Step 1: Create a menu

Start by making a menu of all your meals for the week in a Google Doc. Add in meals you know you’ll be eating out so you plan for the right amount and don’t end up wasting food.

Here’s a sample plan.

MONDAY

BREAKFAST​:

Cinnamon​ ​Pear​ ​Oatmeal

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LUNCH:

Tuna Salad

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DINNER:​ ​Braised Lentils topped with Baked Salmon and a side of Roasted Asparagus

​Braised Lentils topped with Baked Salmon and a side of Roasted Asparagus

Baked Salmon

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Braised​ ​Lentils

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TUESDAY

BREAKFAST:

​Green​ ​Smoothie

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LUNCH:

​Quinoa​ ​Burrito​ ​Bowl​ ​with​ ​Chicken

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DINNER:

​Bibimbap​ ​Bowl

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WEDNESDAY

BREAKFAST:

​Avocado​ ​“Toast”

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LUNCH:

​Chicken​ ​and​ ​Roasted​ ​Vegetable​ ​Salad​ ​with​ ​Avocado

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DINNER:​

​Fried​ ​Quinoa

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THURSDAY

BREAKFAST:

Overnight​ ​Cacao​ ​Chia​ ​Pudding

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LUNCH:​

​Sweet​ ​Potatoes​ ​Stuffed​ ​with​ ​Lentils

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DINNER:​

​Zoodles​ ​with​ ​Pesto

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FRIDAY

BREAKFAST:

Cinnamon​ ​Pear​ ​Oatmeal

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LUNCH:​

​Lentil​ ​Soup

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DINNER:​

​Brown​ ​Rice​ ​Noodles​ ​with​ ​Chicken​ ​Sausage,​ ​Cannellini​ ​Beans​ ​and​ ​Kale

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Step 2: Grocery shop


Use the recipes you’ve gathered to make a thorough list, so you don’t have to make multiple trips. Check your pantry, spice rack and freezer to make sure you don’t buy anything you already have.

Grocery list for above plan:
PROTEIN
● 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
● 2 wild salmon filets
● 2 Italian-style chicken sausage links
● 1⁄2 dozen eggs

PANTRY
● Kimchi
● 1 package brown rice spaghetti
● 1 can cannellini beans
● 1 can black beans
● 1 package quinoa
● 1 package dried green lentils
● 1 can good-quality tuna packed in olive oil
● Pitted olives
● Coconut sugar
● Shredded coconut
● Chicken or vegetable broth
● Unsweetened almond milk
● Chia seeds
● Cacao
● Capers
● Coconut water
● Protein powder
● 1 jar salsa
● Rice cakes

PRODUCE
● 2 banans
● 2 knobs fresh ginger
● 1 bag green beans
● 1 bag spinach
● 1 sweet potato
● 1 bunch fresh basil
● 1 bunch kale
● 1 bag arugula
● 2 bartlett pears
● 1 bunch fresh cilantro
● 1 bunch fresh sage
● 1 bunch fresh parsley
● 3 shallots
● 4 avocados
● 6 lemons
● 2 limes
● 2 heads garlic
● 2 zucchini
● 2 bell peppers
● 1 container prepared mirepoix (if you can’t find it, get 2 carrots, 1 bunch celery and 1
onion)
● 1 bunch asparagus
● 1 container pomegranate seeds
● 1 bag frozen pineapple
● 1 bag frozen peas
● 2 small heads bok choy
● 1 bunch scallions
● 1⁄2 cup shitaki mushrooms

SPICES,​ ​OILS​ ​&​ ​VINEGAR
● Crushed red pepper flakes
● Salt
● Sriracha
● Pepper
● Olive oil
● Balsamic vinegar
● Toasted sesame oil
● Tamari
● Maple syrup
● Ground ginger
● Ground turmeric
● Ground cinnamon

BULK
● 1⁄2 cup roasted unsalted pecans
● 1⁄4 cup roasted unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
● 1⁄2 cup roasted unsalted walnuts

Step 3: Prep like a pro

Now that you got everything that you need (go you!), it’s time to dig in and cook. You’re going to multitask a bit, which will really speed up the process.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Prepare and bake your sweet potato, chicken breast, vegetables and salmon, as outlined in these recipes:

IN​ ​THE​ ​OVEN

Roasted​ ​Vegetables

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Roasted​ ​Chicken​ ​Breasts

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Baked Salmon

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Roasted Sweet Potato

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Once these items are baking, you can move on to the stove. Set timers so you catch the baking items when they’re done. Time to work on the next set of recipes:

ON​ ​THE​ ​STOVE

Hard​ ​Boiled​ ​Eggs

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Blanched​ ​Green​ ​Beans

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Quinoa

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Braised​ ​Lentils

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Cinnamon​ ​Pear​ ​Oatmeal

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Now, while you’re waiting for everything to finish, prep these no-cook recipes:

Vegan​ ​Pesto

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Overnight​ ​Cacao​ ​Chia​ ​Pudding

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Tuna Salad

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And that’s it. For next week, set aside recipes as you find them all week long to streamline even more, and don’t be afraid to repeat your favorites. You can even create your menu and shop on Saturday to break up the work, if you like. Before long you’ll have a folder full of awesome recipes to draw from and Top Chef-worthy prepping skills.

Good food brings people together.
So do good emails.

Good food brings people together.
So do good emails.

Good food brings people together.
So do good emails.