This blog was adapted to the Food-Wise Weight Loss program.  Original post by Meraki Lane

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Making meals can feel like such a time suck. It’s so important that our families are nourished, but sometimes the thought of throwing in a frozen pizza, or even better, getting one delivered, takes the cake. The problem with those quick and easy meals is that they’re killer for the waistline. That’s why we’re sharing meal prep ideas so you can lose weight, and save time and money.

Whenever I go on a health kick, meal planning is my saving grace. I find I eat the most unhealthy when I wait until I’m hungry to make food, rather than planning out what I’m going to eat ahead of time. But with meal prepping, you can also save time and money while eating healthy foods you love.

We’ve complied 20 hacks to make life easier through meal prepping. Check them out below!

Prep Once a Week. Designate one day of the week to get all your grocery shopping and food prep done. I would suggest doing this on a Sunday so you free up time throughout the week. It may sound like a big feat, but it means that you only have to chop up your ingredients once a week. It’s definitely one of the most awesome life hacks.

Keep a List of Go-To Meals. Some meals will become favourites in your household, while others won’t make the cut. Having a list of go-to meals will really save you time, especially if the meals are easy and quick to whip up. The meals on your list should also have over-lapping ingredients so you don’t have to buy a ton of different items when you grocery shop.

Roast it Up. Roasting veggies is one of my favourite clever tricks to make life easier. You can put roasted veggies in sandwiches, salads, soups, or eat them on their own, so roast up a big batch and use them throughout the week. Some of the best vegetables to roast are peppers, eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower, asparagus, onion and mushrooms.

Always Bring a Grocery List. Never grocery shop when you’re hungry and always bring a grocery list you make ahead of time. This will keep you from picking up unnecessary items that likely aren’t good for you. A grocery list also keeps your budget on track so you’re not mindlessly spending on foods you don’t need.

Muffin Tin Meals. From meatloaf to egg breakfast cups, muffin tin meals are easy to make, refrigerate (or freeze), and heat up when you need.

Batch Cooking. If you haven’t started batch cooking, it’s about to change your life. Batch cooking is a genius technique that saves you time and money. You basically prepare and cook a bunch of food once and store it for future meals, whether you eat it that week or put it in the freezer for later.

Meal Prep Containers. If you want to meal prep on a budget, you need to find the best meal prep containers. There are different types of meal prep containers, from containers that compartmentalize your foods so you can prep your meals for each day of the week (put protein in one section and veggies in another), to individual containers you can store different veggies in.

Befriend the Slow Cooker. If you’re looking for clever hacks for meal prep, the slow cooker is going to be your best friend. If you haven’t invested in one yet, it’s time to take the plunge (check out this onethis one and this one!). All you have to do is throw in your choice of protein, veggies, spices and liquid, and slow cook them for 4 to 8 hours while you’re out and about. Need inspiration?  Ask your coach for ideas!

Buy Seasonal Produce. Buying in season saves costs and ensures you’re getting the freshest veggies. You can buy foods like zucchini, cauliflower and white turnips in bulk and freeze them for when they’re out of season.

Use Mason Jars. From salads, to soups, mason jars are a great way to meal prep. Mason jars are easy to bring with you when you’re on-the-go and they’ll help keep your food fresh throughout the day.

Don’t Forget Snacks. Our snacks are sometimes the most unhealthy part of our days. Grabbing a bag of chips or a muffin are empty carbs that only satisfy you for a short time. Make sure to never leave the house without a protein snack in your lunch bag or purse.  This way, if you get held up you will have something to bridge the hunger gap.

Freeze It. You don’t just need to think short term when it comes to meal prepping, it’s also beneficial to prepare for meals down the road. There are some times when life gets crazier than others, and it’s nice to know that you have something when you’re in a pinch. A trick you can use is saving 1 to 2 portions when you batch cook so you have food for a rainy day. Cooked ground beef, steamed vegetables, soup, cauliflower-rice dishes are great meals to make and freeze. Just remember to date them so you know when they’re good until.

Get Creative with the Same Ingredients. There are so many ways to get creative with the same ingredients. If you love shrimp, use different spices and marinades to create different shrimp dishes to eat throughout the week. For example, you can create an Asian-inspired shrimp stir fry one night, and shrimp tacos another (lettuce wraped). On the flip side, you can also use the same marinade on different meals, like shrimp, chicken, and tofu.

Prep for Smoothies. Protein drinks don’t have to be boring!  You can mix spinach and water in a Magic Bullet and freeze the liquid spinach in ice trays to add to your drink every day.  It isn’t always easy to get your vegetables in but this way, you can add the “spinach ice cubes” to your chocolate drink and have a full portion of vegetables.  You won’t see it and you won’t even taste it!… and this way, you will also use up your spinach while it is still fresh!

Coordinate Your Fridge. Coordinate your fridge so it’s easy to pull meals out quick. One way you can organize it is dedicating each shelf to different meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can even label each meal with the date you plan to eat it so you can switch things up and keep it interesting.

Hard Boiled Eggs. Eggs are a great source of protein, and they make the perfect snack or addition to your breakfast, lunch or dinner. Hard boil a bunch of eggs one day so you have them for the week ahead. You can slice them into a salad or enjoy them on their own.

Batch Make Homemade Sauce. Homemade tomato sauce is ideal to make in big batches and save for down the road. It will save you time and visits to the grocery store because you’ll always have sauce at the ready. Find canned tomatoes that don’t have any added sugar and buy them when they come on sale!

Spiralize Raw Veggies in Advance. If you want to lose weight, a good switch to make is from pasta to spiralized veggies. You can prep them ahead of time and stick them in the fridge so you can take them out to eat after a long day. Zucchini and white turnip noodles stay fresh for 3 to 5 days.

Make a Meal Schedule. Having a meal schedule will help you decide what you’re going to make each day of the week. Perhaps you do Meatless Mondays, “Skinny Taco” Tuesdays, “Pasta” Wednesdays, etc. This way you know what you need to prep for each day. You can switch things up so it’s not the exact same meal each time, but this way you don’t have to spend too much time thinking about it.

Pre-Bag Salads. Pre-pack salads and store them in the fridge. This way all you have to do is add the protein and dressing. Don’t put the dressing on it until you’re ready to eat it. The last thing you want is soggy salad.

If you want to lose weight and save time and money, try these meal prep ideas and hacks to get you through the week!

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