Meal Planning and Prepping Guide

Posted by Chelsey Hegge on May 28, 2021

Are you looking for ways to decrease stress around meal times? Do you struggle figuring out what to make for dinner? If so, meal planning and prepping is for you!

Meal planning and prepping not only saves time, more often than not healthier foods are used. The process is easily adaptable based on your needs and preferences. The following 4 steps provide a guide to successfully meal plan and prep.

Step 1: Determine the best method for you

Prepare ingredients ahead of time

  • Wash and cut up fruits/vegetables
  • Cook partial ingredients for a recipe (i.e. cooking rice, grilling chicken to use in various recipes)

Batch cooking/freezing

  • Prepare multiple servings of a recipe to portion out and freeze for future use

Make meals ahead of time

  • Cook complete meals in advance to be reheated during the week (i.e. prepare a pan of lasagna to cook during the week or bake the day you made it and reheat leftovers)
  • Double or triple a recipe and then freeze meals for later use

Step 2: Come up with a game plan

Choose the meal(s) you need to plan and prep for during the week

  • Dinners only
  • Lunch and/or breakfast as well

Create a menu for the week: 

  • Keep things simple
    • Start with some of your favorite recipes while adding in only one or two new recipes
    • Choose recipes/foods you actually enjoy
  • If you don’t know where to start focus on balance at meals
    • Utilize the MyPlate method – focus on ½ plate fruits and vegetables, ¼ plate lean protein, and ¼ plate whole grains
    • Example: cook a batch of brown rice, a few chicken breasts and roasted vegetables that you can assemble into bowls, salads, wraps, etc.
  • Utilize frozen produce to save time in the kitchen and money when produce is out of season
  • Choose recipes that will provide leftovers for lunches the next day or make a larger portion to allow for leftovers
  • Cook once, eat twice
    • Meal prep chicken or ground turkey that you can use in multiple recipes (i.e. tacos, bowls, wraps, etc.)
    • Meal prepping can be done for other sides as well (i.e. grains, produce, etc.)

  • Schedule your prep time
    • Set aside time in your calendar to plan your meals, grocery shop, and prepare your meals
    • 1 day a week may work or split prepping into 2-3 days per week depending on your schedule

Step 3: Create a grocery list

Create a grocery shopping list based off of meals/recipes chosen

  • Before going to the grocery store take inventory
  • Open up cupboards and refrigerator to assess needs

Add healthy staples to your grocery list

  • Brown rice, quinoa or low-sodium canned beans
  • Frozen fruits/vegetables
  • Lean proteins

Organize grocery list by grocery store department for a more efficient shopping trip


Step 4: Food prep and storage strategies 

Make the most of your time

  • Start prepping foods/recipes with longer cooking times first
  • If two recipes call for the same ingredient, prep that ingredient and divide accordingly

Make sure you have storage containers and supplies to place food in for meals and/or snacks

  • Glass or and plastic containers with lids
  • Disposable aluminum pans
  • Aluminum foil to cover pans for freezer
Chelsey Hegge

Chelsey Hegge

Chelsey Hegge, RD LD, ACE-CPT has a BS in Community Medical Dietetics. She has a passion for health and enjoys assisting people in leading healthier lifestyles by focusing on creating healthy and sustainable long-term habits while incorporating a balanced diet where all foods fit in moderation. Chelsey enjoys being active through lifting weights, walking and has completed several half marathons. In her free time you will find her trying new recipes, hanging out with friends and family, and spending time outdoors.

Contact Chelsey Hegge at (507) 287-9335 ext. 355.

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