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A Beginners Guide to Meal Prepping

January 05, 2022

Understanding how to eat healthy starts with how you prepare your meals. You don't have to be a chef or nutritionist to meal prep successfully. Meal prepping is a simple and easy process that anyone can do. If you're just getting started on your meal prep journey, this guide will give you everything you need to know how to start meal prepping successfully.

Table Of Contents

What Is Meal Prepping?

Meal prep is the practice of preparing your food in advance, cooking and measuring it out so everything stays fresh. Meal preps can consist of one or more meals, depending on how long you plan to store them for. Typically, you'll prep for a few days at a time.

Why Should I Meal Prep?

The biggest reason why so many people choose to meal prep is convenience. When you plan out your meals, you can easily grab whatever you need on the go without any hassle. This not only helps improve how much energy you have throughout the day, but it also saves time by knowing exactly what's for dinner.

Meal prepping will help keep you on track with your calorie needs throughout the week. By cooking in one day, you know how much to eat each day and how many meals you'll need to prepare, making it easier for you to follow your nutrition plan.

How To Plan and Prepare Meals Ahead of Time for the Week

Meal prepping is not just how you cook your meals but how you prep them ahead of time. The last thing you want to do is spend all that time cooking only to have to throw away the food because it went bad by the next day.

person grating a carrot with kale on cutting board

Follow these essential steps so all your effort doesn't go to waste:

Step 1: Know How Many Meals You'll Need for the Week

Before you start meal prepping, you'll want to know how many meals you'll be preparing. On average, a person eats 3-4 dishes a day, which is around 14-21 meals a week. Some people might require more or less depending on how active they are and their calorie needs.

Step 2: Plan Your Shopping List

Meal prep shopping can be overwhelming since it requires buying multiple ingredients at once. The key is to plan everything out ahead of time so you know how much you'll need and how much it will cost. Once you have an overall idea of how many meals you're prepping for, create a grocery list that includes how much of each ingredient you'll need for each meal.

Step 3: Start Cooking

Now the fun begins! You've planned your meals, create your shopping list, and now it's time to put everything together. This is where the real magic happens; cook all your ingredients at once. This will speed up how long it takes to prepare your food, making you more efficient throughout the week.

You'll want to make sure all the ingredients are fresh when you cook them. This means cooking each ingredient at a different time so they don't dry out or lose flavor while waiting to be used. Once everything is cooked and ready, portion it out into containers for how much you'll need for each meal.

person adding celery to pot making soup

What To Buy at the Store for Meal Prepping

You don't need to break the bank when it comes to purchasing ingredients for your meal preps. Start by buying mostly healthy, whole foods that will be filling and provide you with the nutrients you need while also being inexpensive.


Eggs are a great source of protein and one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen. They can be cooked for any meal of the day and are versatile in how they're prepared.


Chicken is one of the cheapest meats you can buy, which makes it perfect for meal preps. Its lean protein helps keep you feeling full all morning long while providing your body with many other benefits, like selenium, B vitamins, magnesium, and phosphorus. Pair it with vegetables and you have a perfect meal.


Nuts are packed with healthy fats, fiber, and protein which help promote satiety as well as energy throughout the day. They're also inexpensive and filled with vitamins like B1, B2, E & selenium.


Oats are one of the healthiest breakfast foods out there. They're low in calories but high in fiber, which makes them perfect for weight loss. Add some fruit or honey to taste and you're good to go.


Pasta is one of the cheapest carbohydrates you can buy, which makes it perfect for meal preps. It's versatile in how it's cooked and filled with vitamin B1, niacin, selenium & manganese. Get whole grain pasta since it's higher in fiber than the refined version, which helps keep you feeling full longer.

person eating meal prepped ahead of time in container

Easy, Healthy Meal Prep Ideas

Now that you have all the ingredients you need for your meals, how do you make them? Here are a few healthy meal prep recipes to get you started.

Chicken & Vegetable Stir Fry with Brown Rice Recipe

This chicken stir-fry is full of flavor from ginger and garlic, a perfect combination for a healthy meal. It's also filling since it's full of protein and fiber. This recipe doubles or even triples nicely for meal prep and planning the week ahead.


  • 1 chicken breast, diced
  • 2 handfuls broccoli florets
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • Spices: turmeric powder, red chili flakes, black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Add rice and salt, cover with lid, reduce heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let steam for an additional 10 minutes before opening the lid.

  2. Heat oil in a large pan over high heat. Add onions when hot.

  3. Add garlic and ginger. Saute for 1 minute.

  4. Add the chicken and spices, stir fry for 5-6 minutes or until fully cooked through.

  5. Add vegetables and cook on high heat stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes (longer if you like your veggies more crunchy).

  6. Serve with brown rice.

Chicken Lentil Soup with Quinoa Recipe

This chicken lentil soup is a great meal prep recipe for a cold day. It's a one-pot dish so it's super simple to double or triple for your meal prep. and warm up later in the week. And since it has protein, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber you'll be feeling full and energized all day.


  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 4 cups chicken broth/stock
  • 1 cup red lentils (washed)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin or a pinch of cumin powder
  • Pinch of thyme or a sprig of thyme
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, cut into strips or cubes
  • 2 large handfuls fresh spinach (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, saute for 3-5 minutes or until translucent.
  2. Add carrots, celery, and chicken broth, turn up the heat until it comes to a boil.
  3. Add lentils and spices (except salt & pepper), cover with lid, and simmer until the lentils are tender (about 20 minutes).
  4. Add cooked chicken, stir through spinach leaves if using, season with salt & pepper to taste, and cook for a few more minutes until the spinach has wilted.
  5. Serve with crusty bread or as is!

Make Meal Prep A Habit

Meal prepping doesn't have to be difficult. As long as you plan ahead and get the right ingredients, it can actually save you time in the long run. Once you get into the habit, meal prepping will become second nature and you won't even have to think about it anymore. And while some meal prep recipes take more effort than others, there is at least one recipe out there for everyone.

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