A totally doable, week-long guide that'll teach you how to prep smart, save more, and stress less.
A few things to know before starting:
• This is not a diet or weight-loss program: This plan is focused on helping you make your week easier. You'll learn how to meal prep and maybe even save a few dollars on your grocery list. That said, these recipes are made with whole foods, minimally processed ingredients, and a balance between protein, fat, and carbs.
• You'll utilize every last bit of food: If a recipe calls for half an onion, save the other half for later. We made sure to prevent food waste and stretch dollars.
• You'll need a few kitchen basics: No overly fancy equipment — just things like pots, pans, access to an oven and fridge, and airtight storage containers for prepped food. If it's helpful, here's all the equipment we used.
• Most meals come together quickly: Thanks to a meal prep routine that kicks off the week, most dishes come together in just a few minutes. Dinners require a little more effort, but none of them should take you more than 30 minutes.
• You can always eat differently if you want to: Where possible, we've included recommendations for vegetarian and vegan substitutions — and we encourage you to customize the recipes to your needs. Everyone is different, and some may require more or less calories than this plan includes. Still hungry after eating a meal? Feel free to snack or increase your portions. This week is about teaching you how to cook and prep smarter, and you can add or remove components as you see fit.
That means cutting back on things that can drive up grocery bills (like fancy cuts of meat), and instead loading up on affordable, versatile staples (like eggs or grains.) It also means utilizing leftovers to bring cost-per-meal down.
Our grocery bill averaged around $50, but we also shopped in NYC without any coupons. (Meaning: You could definitely do this for cheaper.) Find more expert tips on how to keep your grocery bill low here.
You can find complete step-by-step instructions for prepping here. It may seem like a lot, but don't worry — it's actually pretty straight-forward once you get going.
Marie Molde, a registered dietitian for Datassential, helped guide us in the right direction.
"My best tip for eating at home is to cook simple meals," says Molde. "It all becomes very approachable and effortless when you prepare ahead of time, so when hunger strikes, you only need to assemble and eat."
She says that although meal prep might seem like a lot of work initially, it’s worth the effort — and it doesn't have to be that complicated. "Cooking is more fun when you’re not facing mile-long ingredient lists," said Molde. "Instead, you realize what culinary magic can be made with only a few staples."
They test-drove the plan and put together a whole list of things they learned during the week, as well as things they wished they knew before going into it. Read their full experiences here.