Meal Planning and Prepping Tips

We know that meal-prep saves money and time, and keeps us healthier. However, meal-prep is not always easy to implement. We’ve been meal-prepping for a few years now and have found that putting in the effort and making it a habit is well worth it. Below, we share some of our tips-and-tricks to make the process easier for you.

Step 1: Meal Planning

Getting Organized

We created this simple Menu Planning Template in Google Sheets to plan our meals and it’s worked really well for us. It’s categorized by the date and type of meal, and includes a recipe link, the ingredient and a shopping list. We plan our meals every Saturday, and grocery shop on Sunday and Wednesday.

Deciding our Menu

Andrew repeats his meals a lot more than I do. For example, he makes 5 identical power/ buddah bowls for the entire week and he always has cereal with berries for breakfast. I need more variety so I plan for a few different lunches and breakfasts.

Below is an example meal plan for Monday-Friday. For ease of viewing, I’ve added only my breakfasts and lunches in this spreadsheet, and we eat the same dinners at night.

  • Breakfast: I alternate between 2 types of breakfasts throughout the week, smoothies and oats. These are the breakfasts I eat every week, however sometimes I mix up the ingredients in them. I usually don’t use recipes for breakfast.
  • Lunch: I change this up every week, but still keep it simple. I use recipes, so keeping track of the ingredients and recipe link is really helpful to refer to.
  • Dinner: I cook during the week and Andrew cooks on Saturday and Sunday (sweet deal!). So I’m often planning out just a few meals that will make enough for leftovers on alternate evenings.  Another great time-saver.

Once we have everything planned out, we create our shopping list (see last column in the template).  We determine what we have on hand in the house and only list the items we need to buy.

At the grocery store, I pull up the list in my Google Sheets app on my phone and we get what we need!

Finding Recipes

There are many ways to search and save recipes, but I find Instagram to be the most useful.

  • Below is a shot of the Veggie Campus Instagram home screen on my phone. The ‘save’ symbol that is circled appears on the bottom right of each Instagram picture. If you click on that symbol it will now be in our ‘Saved’ file on Instagram which you can see by going to the same symbol on your profile home page and clicking on it.
  • You can make collections such as lunch, dinner, breakfast and so on. This has been invaluable to look through and prep for the week

Step 2: Meal Prepping 

Shopping

We grocery shop on Saturday each week because we cook on Sunday, which takes some time. The grocery stores are usually less crowded – bonus.Saturday shopping has become such a habit of ours at this point that it often trumps other plans, or we plan around it.

At the store, we use the shopping list from the meal prep google sheet to get the ingredients we need. We don’t veer from this list very often, except for maybe a few items here and there, which keeps our grocery bill very consistent.  It only changes if we go to a specialty store for our items instead of our regular grocery store which rarely happens.

Food Preparation/ Cooking

Once we’ve purchased all of our ingredients, cooking and preparation of our meals happens on Sunday.  Our kitchen is a bit small, so I usually prep in the morning and Andrew gets his meals together in the afternoon.   The most food preparation centers around lunches so we can just grab em and go.

Andrew’s routine

  • Andrew keeps his breakfasts the same so he doesn’t prep for those and centers his prep around lunches.
  • He makes 5 bowls for the week and has got it down to a science. Here is a link to his Buddah Bowl recipe and how he preps.
  • This past week he changed up the ingredients based on a wrap we had in Moab, and it only took him 30 minutes or less to put everything together.

Caryn’s routine:

  • Breakfast
    • My breakfasts change only slightly, and are smoothies and muesli/ granola bowls.
    • Smoothies: I chop up fruits ahead of time and sometimes put them in a container together, separated for the day of the week.  This speeds things up a lot.  I also freeze bananas and have those on hand to throw in.
  • Lunch
    • I will chop all of the vegetables and put them in different containers, make lentils or quinoa and store in another container and some sort of a sauce.
    • I combine everything in the morning, pulling from the different containers to make a lunch since I like to mix it up (unlike Andrew who keeps his consistent daily).

I make dinner for us during the week, so I’ll prep a few items that I can have ready ahead of time lentils, quinoa or chopped veggies.  I refer to the google sheets A LOT during dinner as this has all of my recipes and is a quick reference guide.

Final Thoughts

  • Consider any dinners or lunches you may eat out during so you don’t buy to much and have to throw out food
  • Think about planning only for 3 days to start if you can shop again during the middle of the week. This also helps with potential food waste.
  • Don’t forget to think about what you will eat Sunday night while you are at the grocery store if you haven’t already planned for this over the weekend.
  • Make new tabs in your google spreadsheet for each week so you can refer back and reuse a weekly plan or recipe link if need be. I have one tab where I’ve started to save recipes we use the most often for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nice to have it all in once place!

We’d love to hear from you – what are your meal-planning and prepping tips?