The world of meal prep can seem like an unpleasant tornado of portioning, Instant Pots, and unseasoned chicken breast. With good resources, though, it doesn’t have to be — you just need to know which experts to trust.
First, meal prepping doesn’t necessarily mean cooking an entire week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners on a Sunday night. There are plenty of smaller things you can do on Sunday to make your daily quest for sustenance a little easier, even if you don’t churn out two kinds of soup, a somehow-delicious trail mix, and a whole chicken.
Here are six reliable resources to help you get started on your meal prep journey. And remember, there’s no “diet” in meal prep. Prep whatever the hell you want.
Budget Bytes is a recipe heaven for meal prep enthusiasts. The website’s dedicated meal prep section includes a useful beginner’s guide, and recipes are organized by type (beef, chicken, vegetarian, breakfast, and no-reheat) to make finding your ideal meal simple. Each recipe is also priced by batch and by serving, so you know exactly where your money is going — and how much you’ll save every time you opt for leftovers instead of ordering takeout. You’ll gain some real cooking skills using this website too, which will only serve you more in the future.
If you’re totally new to meal prep and just want a comprehensive overview to kick things off, turn to this extremely straightforward blog post from Cleveland Clinic. It’ll guide you through every step you should take to get started, from choosing storage containers to scheduling prep time to selecting recipes.
No, this isn’t a meal prep hub, but if you don’t really know what meal prep entails or want to make sure you go about it in a healthy way, it is a great place to start.
An important part of meal prep is not poisoning yourself. Luckily, food storage guidelines are here to help. Refer to this extremely detailed (like, it distinguishes between commercial and homemade eggnog) food safety chart whenever you want to a) figure out how to store a dish or b) decide whether that chickpea stew you’ve kept in the fridge longer than expected is actually OK to eat.
Like any niche subreddit, this place is pretty intense, but it’s the best source of realistic meal prep inspiration out there. Every day, people post pictures of prepped meals, in-progress recipes, and advice for people just starting out. Not every submission is Instagram ready, and that’s a good thing. It’s useful to see what people out there are actually making, whether that’s visually appealing grain bowls or frozen BBQ wraps with a mozzarella stick inside. Hey, food inspiration comes in all forms — even if a disproportionate number of those forms involve grilled chicken.
You’ll also get to see how users pack everything up, which may help your own food storage game improve.
Looking for the best vegan meal prep advice? You’ll find some of it at all the sources listed above. But the best vegan meal prep content I found was on Jenné Claiborne’s YouTube channel, SweetPotatoSoul. (If you’re a vegan, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with it already.) There, you’ll find at least two dedicated meal prep videos, a comprehensive beginner’s guide, and tons of other vegan recipes.
Meal prepping can be a great tool for folks who are attempting to eat more balanced diets. Each person’s dietary needs are unique, but there are some basic guidelines everyone might want to keep in mind. That’s where nutrition guides come in handy.
Harvard’s School of Public Health has a helpful Healthy Eating Plate guide, which explains exactly how much of your plate you should dedicate to each type of food in order to build a balanced diet. TL;DR: Half of your plate should be fruits and veggies, one-quarter of your plate should be protein, one-quarter should be whole grains, and healthy fats should be eaten in moderation. Some common questions about portion control and eating healthier are answered alongside the interactive plate guide, as well as in the video below.
The U.S Department of Agriculture also has an entire resource hub for meal planning based on nutrition, which includes seasonal recipes, advice on portion sizes, and more.
If you commit to the meal prep lifestyle, you’ll want to stay as organized as possible. An app designed to streamline your shopping list can help. There’s AnyList, which allows you to easily create, share, and organize your grocery shopping lists and recipes. Another option is Mealime, which is basically designed for meal preppers. The app allows you to plan your week’s meals ahead of time and makes a grocery list for you (or your family) after you fill out your meal plan.
8. Pyrex food storage containers
Part of meal prep is, well, storing the meals you’ve prepped. If you’re going to embrace the meal prep lifestyle, then it makes sense to invest in good food storage containers that will help your food stay fresh for longer periods of time.
This 18-piece kit of stackable Pyrex Simply Store Meal Prep Glass Food Storage Containers was Wirecutter’s top pick for best food storage containers of 2021, and for good reason. The $34 kit features a variety of containers in different shapes and sizes, and they have different colored lids that will help make organizing stored food even easier. The glass containers are oven safe, and the thought of eating your prepped meal out of a Pyrex container instead of a plastic one just feels classier, doesn’t it?