Last Updated on August 5, 2022
This guide, Meal Prepping 101, will help you see the benefits of meal prepping and how to go about it zero waste. Save yourself time and money by following these tips for meal planning.
Zero waste food is so important because many of us waste so many of our resources by throwing them away or purchasing food in plastic containers. The packaging ends up in landfills and damages our Earth. Follow the steps in this meal prepping 101 guide to prevent waste and save resources.
Table of Contents
meal prepping for beginners
Did you know you can dramatically reduce waste by taking just a few minutes to meal prep once a week? It sounds super complicated… and boring. I mean who wants to eat the same meal for days on end?
I certainly don’t! That’s why I prep ingredients instead of meals. This gives me total freedom with my meals, and I can get them on the table FAST.
The key to meal prepping for beginners is all about prepping the ingredients ahead of time. You can also prep some meals as well if you want to. It’s your project, so you have the freedom to go about it the way YOU want!
benefits of meal prepping
- Big time saver.
- Helps prevent drive thru or take out orders because you have food at your fingertips.
- You’ll know exactly what goes into your food.
- Zero waste food, so little to no waste.
zero waste food challenge
You can prevent all sorts of food waste, you just have to be willing to make some adjustments. Take a look at my 10 tips to prevent food waste!
Today, I challenge you to spend at least 30 minutes meal prepping for the week.
It’s day fifteen of the zero waste challenge! We’re officially halfway through the challenge: Only sixteen more days to go!
Now, we’re in the second phase of the challenge. These changes are lifestyle changes like learning to make your own snacks, decluttering your life the zero waste way, and conserving natural resources.
Most of the topics will start getting slightly more advanced for the rest of the challenge before we move into activism and ways to get your community involved, but today we’re talking about meal prep.
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meal prepping 101
Meal prepping ahead of time can really reduce your workload throughout the week.
It will also help you avoid unnecessary “quick fixes” like microwaveable dinners packaged in plastic.
It helps to prevent food waste and will keep you fed with super nourishing meals!
When you meal prep, it’s much easier to eat a diet focused around vegetables because you’ll have already done all of the hard work ahead of time.
I typically spend 2-3 hours meal prepping. Making it fun is so important to me. One of my biggest tips for meal planning is that if you make it like a chore, it will feel like a chore.
So instead, I turn on a tv show or listen to a book or podcast, and then I just start prepping.
For me, meal prep means peeling my carrots, cutting them into carrot sticks, and roasting and sauteeing my in-season vegetables. It helps me prevent so much trash and saves time in the long run.
If you’re going for just a short 30 minute prep, then get all of your vegetables chopped and stored in clear glass containers so you can see what foods you have prepped. This way, nothing will get lost in the back of the fridge.
Check out my ultimate guide for plastic free food storage.
Whenever I’ve had a super hard day at work, I have so much peace knowing I have so many things prepped. It makes it super easy for me to get a fast and healthy meal on the table.
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making better food choices
Having most of the meal prepped prevents me from going out to eat and/or reaching for overly processed, overly packaged snacks.
So just by having a few things prepared, I’m able to prevent a lot of waste.
Today, I’m challenging you to do the same. I think you’ll find this will really help you prevent waste, provide easy meals, and focus on zero waste food.
what to consider
Aside from physically preparing meals ahead of time, it’s also a great idea to sit down and think of how many meals you need to make.
Will you be prepping breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Do you have any dishes in mind that you like to eat?
I prep by flavor profile, not by meal, so I have complete and total control over what I eat and am not beholden to a meal plan.
Because the moment someone says, lasagna is on Tuesday… suddenly I don’t want lasagna on a Tuesday… I want tacos.
When you have prepped around flavor profile, you can use the produce that’s in season to create whatever you want.
meal prepping for beginners examples
So, in wintertime, I might put sweet potatoes, black beans, and kale in my tacos, but in the summer, I’ll put peppers, onions, and pinto beans.
Add a little bit of salsa, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and lime juice, and the ingredients transcend the region.
I recommend writing out a list of the cuisines you like to make and eat throughout the week, as well as what core ingredients you’d need to make them.
For instance, when it comes to making Mexican food, I like to make sure that I have tortillas, tortilla chips, salsa, beans, etc., on hand.
Then I can change the produce to reflect the season. To me, it’s important to prep tons of in season veggies.
Maybe you like to make Indian food, American food, Italian food, whatever type of food you like to make – you know how to keep your pantry and spice cabinet stocked so you can make any food your heart desires.
Then, prep the basics.
I like to prep several carbs — maybe it’s rice, pasta, quinoa, or sweet potatoes. For me, proteins will include lentils, beans, and hummus.
Then I can assemble my plate to include all of the important categories. These are the questions I ask myself:
Do I have a protein?
- Do I have a carb?
Do I have fiber?
Do I have good fats?
If I can answer yes to all of those questions, then I know that I’m going to have a meal that keeps me feeling full, which can be a challenge if you eat a mostly plant based diet.
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meal prep 101 challenge
Over the next 16 days, your challenge is to meal prep.
Go ahead and set aside at least 30 minutes to prepare food for the week ahead after you go grocery shopping.
This can mean peeling carrots, boiling vegetables, or chopping up produce (whatever makes your life easier).
You’ll be less tempted to reach for single-use packaged items throughout the week if you just prep a little beforehand.
If you feel extra ambitious, you can also use this as an opportunity to plan out your meals for the week.
Will you be taking the challenge?
Just starting out? Have 1,000 burning questions!? Get access to my private Facebook group, where I’ll be hosting weekly lives throughout the challenge and I answer all of your most pressing questions.
PLUS! I’ll be sending out a brand new e-book at the end of the challenge called the Game On Handbook, which is all about individual ways to fight climate change.
You don’t want to miss it.
miss a day?
- Day 1: Buy Less
- Day 2: Say No to Straws
- Day 3: Bring Your Own Reusable Water Bottle
- Day 4: Zero Waste Coffee
- Day 5: How to Actually Remember to Bring Your Bags to the Grocery Store
- Day 6: Use Real Stuff
- Day 7: Zero Waste Snacks
- Day 8: Declutter Your Life the Zero Waste Way
- Day 9: The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Cleaning
- Day 10: How to Compost
- Day 11: Conserve Natural Resources
- Day 12: Pick Up Litter
- Day 13: Zero Waste Grocery Shopping
- Day 14: Fight Food Waste
- Day 15: Meal Prep
- Day 16: Repair Something
- Day 17: Pack a Zero Waste Lunch
- Day 18: Use Cloth Napkins
- Day 19: Bring Home Leftovers
- Day 20: Zero Waste Dishwashing
- Day 21: Recycle the RIGHT Way!
- Day 22: Zero Waste Toilet Paper
- Day 23: Reduce Waste in Your Beauty Routine
- Day 24: Vote with Your Dollars
- Day 25: Be Prepared
- Day 26: Stop Junk Mail
- Day 27: Shop Secondhand
- Day 28: Shop Local
- Day 29: Start a Local Zero Waste Group
- Day 30: Get Involved in Local Government
- Day 31: Do a Trash Audit
Now that you have learned some tips for meal planning, as well as the benefits of meal prepping, you are ready to jump on this challenge!