Two words that strike equal parts relief and terror in the hearts of people everywhere. If you’re here, chances are you are a beginner in the world of meal prep, so we’ll start with the answers to a few basic questions.
What is meal prep, anyway?
Meal prep is, quite literally, meal preparation. There is a lot of information about meal prep available online, including many different meal prep ideas, tips on how to meal prep and advice about how to meal prep for the week. However, many people fail to actually implement meal prep into their weekly routine because they just don’t know where or how to begin the process.
Why should I take the time to meal prep?
Regular meal prep holds allure for many reasons. In addition to saving us time, money and the health benefits that accompany home cooked meals, it’s only appropriate to mention that one of the chief benefits of meal prep is the reduction or elimination of “meal time stress.”
You know what we’re talking about. It’s that creeping feeling of anxiety we all feel when the clock strikes 5:15 PM and we realize that we aren’t quite sure what’s for dinner…again? Life is busy, and if we can reduce our stress levels simply by taking the time to prepare some of our dinners in advance, we should all be riding that train to our best life.
Without further ado, here are our best meal prep ideas and guide about how-to meal prep for the week.
1. Make a Meal Plan for Your Week
First, it’s important to make sure that your meal plan is a good match for your weekly schedule! As yourself if you want to meal prep for dinners only, or would you like to prep for some lunches and breakfasts, also? Next, ask yourself what your week looks like. Are there any nights you won’t be home for dinner and will plan to eat at a restaurant? Realistically, how much time will you have to cook your meal each day? How many will be dining with you at each meal?
2. Choose Your Recipes
Once you decide how many meals you plan to prep, it’s time to choose your recipes! There are many meal prep ideas out there, but we recommend planning your meals around one or two versatile entrees like our tender and mouth-watering Diced Tenderloin Tips, then build out your menu from there. Once you have chosen your main entree items, it’s time to choose your recipes! We’ve curated a few delicious tenderloin tips recipes we know you’ll love, but feel free to substitute your own favorite recipes instead!
The Instant Pot is the current sweetheart of many a kitchen (although the air fryer is coming in at a close second), and this recipe by Soulfully Made highlights why we all love Instant Pot Everything. A deliciously tender, savory meal in just minutes? Sign us up! Pair with steamed veggies and rice for a meal everyone will love.
Few meals fill us with that warm, comfy, down-home feeling the way that a filling stew does, and this beef tenderloin stew hits it out of the park. As you plan your meal prep for the week, consider adding this recipe to your line up.
This rich, savory dish is a long-lauded staple in American kitchens everywhere, and we can certainly understand why. Serve over creamy mashed potatoes, rice, or even your favorite pasta.
3. Make Your Shopping List
Once you’ve crafted your meal prep menu for the week, it’s time to make your shopping list! To make things simple, group like items together by store section. To save yourself time, make sure to note the quantity you need of every item – for all recipes. You’ll need this when you check to see which ingredients you already have in stock.
4. Check Your Pantry
Next, take your list to the refrigerator and pantry, and go through your list. Be sure to compare the quantity you currently have versus the amount you need. If you will use the last of any item you regularly use, make sure to leave it on your list!
5. Do Your Shopping
Once you have a firm grasp of exactly what you need to purchase, you are ready to hit the grocery store! Make sure to take your list with you, and purchase all the items you need for your meal prep for the week. Don’t forget to eat something before you hit the aisles – shopping while hungry is never a good idea!
If you will be buying any of your meat online, don’t forget to place your order in plenty of time for delivery. As a rule of thumb, plan to order your online meat delivery 3-5 days in advance of the day you plan to meal prep.
6. Start Prepping
Now that you have all your ingredients, you are ready to begin! This is the step where many people bow out because they do not have a clear understanding of how to meal prep.
But not you. You have our step by step guide with everything you need to know about how to meal prep…and you’re golden. Let’s get to work.
All the best meal prep ideas and guides will tell you that organization is key. Before you begin the actual meal prep process, you should make sure to have a long, clear countertop or table to use as you work. We recommend making slightly separated “stations” along your countertop. Make sure to have the following on your counter and easily accessible: a cutting board, knife, seasonings, containers and/or sealable freezer bags and a permanent marker and dry erase marker.
First, wash all your vegetables in the sink. Use a vegetable brush to scrub veggies with thick skin, and soak vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower in a bowl of cold water for 1-2 minutes. Next, chop your vegetables to the appropriate size for each respective recipe.
Next, follow the instructions in your recipe(s) and cook the meat for each dish. We like to start with whatever will take the longest to cook, and work our way back from there.
While the meat is cooking, you can portion out seasoning for each dish and add it where appropriate. If your dish will be cooked in one pot, add it to the container with the other ingredients. If the seasoning will be added at the end, portion it into a smaller container that fits inside the larger dish, or tape it/fix it to the main container.
Once your vegetables are washed and chopped, the meat is cooked and you have the correct portion of seasonings, you are ready to place your meal into the container! Be careful to follow safe food handling procedures and keep items segregated when appropriate.
You’re almost finished – it’s time to write instructions on each container! If you are using a sealable bag, use a permanent marker to write instructions directly on the bag. If you are using a reusable container, use a dry erase marker to write instructions.
If you have planned out which meal will be cooked on which day, make sure to write the date you plan to make the dish on the container, as well as the amount of time it will take to cook. Trust us, you’ll thank yourself later!
Great work! Your meals are fully prepped, and you are ready to store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
We think you’re ready for the real deal, Champ! Now, bookmark this page for easy reference – then share your favorite tenderloin tip recipe with us in the comments below!