The Basics of Meal Prepping

For most, healthy eating seems daunting. We live very busy lives and from planning out what to eat, to resisting cravings, to taking the time to cook, changing eating habits can become intimidating. I get it! I have rushed mornings, short lunch breaks, desires to eat sweets, and late work nights. I take each Sunday to set myself up for success in these moments. Meal prepping is the key to staying on top of my weekly nutrition.

I know what you’re thinking, you don’t have the time, organization, or desire to prep meals! Please only make me say this once, yes you do! It’s about prioritizing, getting into a habit, and planning ahead. And, you don’t have to do this alone. I’m here to help guide you and give you all my tricks and shortcuts to meal prep. I promise you the first week is the hardest and it will be a no brainer every week after that!

The Basics of Meal Prepping

1. Decide which meals to prep.

I usually prep my breakfasts, lunches, and mid-afternoon snacks for 5 days in advance. I love eating my Blueberry Protein Muffins for breakfast so I make one big batch to have throughout the week. I prep my mid-day meals because I am usually always at work. (My Very Berry Cherry Chia Pudding lasts great in the fridge for a morning or afternoon pick-me-up!) I tend to make the same things for lunch so I don’t have to put a lot of preparation into them. I make 4 or 5 salad bases and then add whichever toppings sound good the night before or the morning of. This also keeps the lettuce from getting soggy. I don’t always prep my dinners but I do make sure I prepare any laboring parts of the recipes (i.e. chopping veggies, grilling meats if I know it will be late nights, or stocking up on pre made protein sources, like Trader Joe’s pre-made chicken breasts, beans, and hard boiled eggs) for quick dinners. I also make sure to have grains on hand to add to meals like quinoa, brown rice, millet, or oats. I make a big batch and put it in the fridge to divvy out during the week. If you want to get even simpler, Trader Joe’s has some frozen pre-made whole grains that you just pop in the microwave!

meal prep grocery trip
The main ingredients of my weekly lunches and snacks! Lots of produce, healthy fats, lean proteins, and greens 🙂

2. Repeat meals.

As mentioned above, I tend to make the same lunches weekly. This way I can save on grocery bills and take minimal amount of time to make them! I don’t mind eating the same thing everyday, in fact I sort of like it. I know not everyone is like this, though. If you need to switch it up, choose 2 recipes to alternate such as a delicious, crunchy salad topped with lean protein and a turkey chili. For even less maintenance, make two recipes with similar ingredients or protein source and switch up a couple of things. You can make 2 different salads with the same lettuce and veggie base and just switch up the toppings (like nuts, unsweetened dried fruit, fresh fruit, avocado, dressings, quinoa, etc) or use the same protein in your salads and in a couple of sandwiches on whole, sprouted grain bread or wraps.

Meal Prep Image
My salad bases and the toppings I will add later! I love crunchy veggies with peanut butter (or almond butter) or hummus for a morning or afternoon snack. Yum!

3. Buy pre-chopped veggies or chop them on Sundays.

Save time by buying some of your fruits and veggies pre-chopped like broccoli, cauliflower, beets, edamame, brussels sprouts, veggie mixes, etc. Trader Joe’s has a lot of great finds! For fruits and veggies you don’t find already prepped, chop them all up on Sundays for easy grab-and-go snacks and to add to recipes. (I prefer to buy fruits that need to be cut whole because it’s usually cheaper. Just chop them up and store in tupperware during your prep).

chopped veggies
This is great for adding crunch to salads! I also love sautéing it with lean protein, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and liquid aminos for a quick stir fry. It works great in chills too!
baby beets
No caption needed. These are AMAZING!

4. Buy pre made lean protein sources when possible.

Same rule for fruits and veggies applies to your protein sources. Trader Joe’s (no this post is not sponsored!) has great fresh and frozen options. I love their all-natural pre-cooked chicken breasts. They have no artificial ingredients! They also have awesome frozen turkey, salmon, and maui-mahi burger patties. If you aren’t a meat eater, just mix your quinoa with a seed or nut and you got yourself an effortless complete protein!

precooked chicken

5. Take advantage of your oven!

Your oven has multiple racks for a reason. Use them! Preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake your lean proteins, veggies, and roots at the same time (just make sure to check on your meats so they don’t get overdone)! Roasted roots and veggies are so yummy! You can reheat them for dinners and top your lunch salads with the left overs.


This coming week, take pictures of your prepped meals. Make sure to tag @Eminspandex (Instagram and Twitter) or @LifeinSpandex (Facebook) and hashtag #lifeinspandex if you have a Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! 🙂


Health and happiness,



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Hi and welcome to Life in Spandex! I'm Emily, a personal trainer who believes there should be no secrets standing in your way to getting fit. I am sharing my knowledge here on this blog in order to help you reach your goals. Fitness should be fun, eating healthy should taste good, and feeling your absolute best is the ultimate goal. Let's get fit together!
  1. […] I always prep my meals on Saturday or Sundays to make sure I’m fueling properly throughout my busy workweek. Take a couple hours to prepare some lean protein and whole grains, chop some fresh fruit, cook some vegetables, hard boil some eggs, and prepare healthy snacks for on-the-go. You can find more meal prep tips in this post. […]

  2. If Trader Joes doesn’t sponsor you, they are crazy!!!
    Great ideas Em! I really appreciate knowing so many healthy and quick options available out there. Even though I’m not currently working like some people, those of us who prefer to spend less time in the kitchen really benefit from your ideas and resources. 😉
    You go girl, xxxx

    1. Profile photo of LifeinSpandex

      Thanks mom! Glad you’re enjoying all my tips 🙂 Spread the word!

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