The Beginners Guide to Meal Prep Sunday



In a previous post, I explained how learning to cook and meal prepping to avoid take-out can save you a million dollars. Now you're jazzed to start prepping all your meals on the weekend, and avoiding the take-out temptation during the week.

I bet you have a few questions on how to get started. Maybe you're used to cooking one meal at a time, which has slightly higher costs than prepping all your meals at once. Maybe you don't know how to cook at all. Maybe you have no idea what kind of container to store a week's worth of meals in. Have no fear!




The Meal Prep Sunday Beginners' FAQ


1. Where do I get Containers for Meal Prepping?

You should choose a type of container that meets your needs. Glass or plastic? Partitioned or not partitioned? What style do you like? Do you want accessories like carrying bags or separate sauce containers?

 Lots of people swear by glass containers like these, which are oven safe, freezer safe and very attractive. These are the most expensive option, but if you're making meal prep a habit, you'll want something that will last. These ones have partitions, to keep your chicken from touching your blueberries:




You can save some money if you don't mind plastic:




There's also a variety of cute accessories you can get, like an insulated lunch bag if you don't have access to a fridge.



Like most hobbies, the amount of awesome gear you can buy is never-ending. You can choose from segmented containers if you don't like your broccoli touching your chicken, or one-compartment tubs of all sizes. However, you don't actually have to buy anything at all.

Personally, I would rather not spend money. I've been slowly saving takeout containers of all sizes, and I keep them in a paper shopping bag under the sink. I have tons now, but when I was ramping up, friends would save them for me, and I would grab good ones from the recycling bin at work. A run through the sanitary setting on the dishwasher rids them of cooties and makes them ready to go.

Recently, my significant other surprised me with a set of round glass containers. I feel so fancy using glass now!

Glass jars, from pasta sauce, honey and instant coffee, also make good storage containers for fridge-only items like fresh fruit, and for storing dry goods like nuts, spice blends and dry chilis. Don't put those in the freezer, though: they will crack. A wash-out with a baking soda and soap mixture rids them of the smells of their former occupation.

2. How do I know how much food to make?


Most recipes have the number of servings written at the end. I usually make 7-12 servings at a time, depending on how much freezer space I have left.

Changing the yield of a recipe is easy: Simply multiply every ingredient times 2, 1.5, or .5 to change its size.

Not a math person? The internet is here to save the day. Check out this recipe converting calculator.

Unfreezable foods, like fresh fruit, I tend to make less of at a time to reduce the risk of it spoiling before I can get to it.

Unsure how long it lasts or whether it is freezable? Someone made this awesome chart to help.

3. What do I even make?


What you make depends on your goals. Other than saving money, what do you hope to accomplish? Is it weight loss? Bulking up? Pick meals that will meet your nutritional goals, but also meals that you really want to eat.

You can even meal prep cakes and cookies! Just bake a cake and put each individual slice in the freezer. That and a packet of instant coffee can help keep you out of Starbucks in the afternoon if you need some sweets and caffeine.

Check out the Meal Prep Sunday Subreddit for recipes and pictures of what other people are doing!

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