The 15+ Amazing Best Kitchen Tools for Meal Prep that I Use Every Week

These are the best kitchen tools for meal prep that I use and LOVE in my household and recommend to others!

*As an affiliate, I may receive a small portion of proceeds of any items you buy through these links, at no extra cost to you. However, I only recommend products I know, use, and love.

Meal prep isn’t just a trend, it’s really a revolution of efficiency. But truthfully, it gets even more efficient when you have the proper and best kitchen tools for meal prep. As a nutrition specialist and health coach, some of the first things I discuss with clients are the roadblocks to making healthy eating happen, whether it’s general healthy foods or sticking to a dietary style for weight loss or food intolerance. Lack of time is usually the biggest reason named, but it doesn’t have to be (which is what I work through with clients).

My philosophy is to always merge healthy + efficient to make these healthy habits doable on the daily.

Here are the best kitchen tools for meal prep that I feel are the most efficient in their own right to make meal prep happen with the least amount of frustration.

best kitchen tools for meal prep

Ninja all-in-one system

This Ninja system has everything you need to chop, dice, spiralize, blend, cream, and so much more! It comes with a bullet-sized smoothie cup, large blender, crazy-sharp blades that are absolutely amazing, a food processor bowl for chopping and ricing, and the smaller attachment for grating and spiralizing. It also includes a dough blade! This system eliminates the need for 3 different appliances, and also has preset functions so you can push the button and walk away while it does its thing!

Instant pot 8-quart 9-in-1

This larger 8-quart Instant Pot has the size to cook larger or smaller amounts, and eliminates the need for a separate slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, saute pan, and more! You can sear meat right in the pot before setting to slow cooker, you can use as a pressure cooker and even cook meats that came straight from the freezer (anyone forget to thaw something for dinner??), and it has settings for different types of meats, rice, eggs, yogurt, potatoes, and so much more. It seriously eliminates the need for multiple different cooking devices! It even has a function for sterilizing! (Baby toys or bottles, anyone?) My feeling, especially if you have a lack of space, is that the best kitchen tools for meal prep can multi-task.

(I like the larger size because it can fit so much more or cook less.) And if you really wanna get high-tech crazy, there’s even a “Smart Wifi” model!

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

The KitchenAid stand mixer is another amazing all-in-one. It obviously mixes hands-free, but it comes with dough hook attachment AND whisk attachment. But it also has a MILLION AND ONE add-ons! For example, meat grinder, spiralizer, pasta maker, juicer…. honestly the list goes on! The Aqua Sky color is the most popular, but check out the link below to explore all color options!

Silmat set

Ok, this may sound crazy, but this Silmat is amazing and eliminates the use of oil sprays or coatings when baking! I love that I have the option of cooking oil-free and know that it won’t stick! I also love that this set has multiple sizes since not all baking sheets are the same size. These can be used in baking sheets (whether baking, cooking, or roasting) or on the countertop for rolling out doughs WITHOUT the use of extra flour! The best kitchen tools for meal prep will also help eliminate extra ‘stuff’ you have might otherwise have to buy, like parchment paper, oil, flour, etc.

Baggie Stand holders

Baggie stands are something I never knew I needed until I used them. Like something in my head told me this would be incredibly helpful, but having them makes my life so much easier when I meal prep!! (Ever have a biggie fall over while pouring liquid in? 😭

Yeah…no bueno.) With these baggie stands– PROBLEM SOLVED!

Reusable Storage Bags

If you’re a serial MEAL PREPPER like I am, or even WANT TO BE— these reusable storage bags ARE FOR YOU! I use a TON of baggies in meal prep!! We also send berries, chips, granola, etc in baggies for the kids to school because we either make our own stuff, or buy the large bag and divide for cheaper snacks. These reusable bags eliminate the overwhelming amount of plastic being thrown away, but also the overwhelming amount of baggies I’m buying every month!

Glass Food Storage Containers

Whether you do weekly meal prep or not, getting rid of plastic food storage containers is a MAJOR upgrade for your health! I love these glass storage containers because they’re dishwasher safe, microwave safe, oven safe, and even freezer safe! They’re extremely versatile! Perfect for meal prep. Perfect for leftovers. Without the icky BPA. Also, they don’t melt in the dishwasher. All the plastic meal prep containers you can buy will eventually lose their shapes (sometimes sooner, depending on the water temperature in your dishwasher). The glass meal prep containers are good to go forever.

Silicone Muffin Pans

Silicone muffin pans are a dream for bakers and meal preppers alike! No more rusty pans. No more muffin papers. No more sticking or using non-stick sprays. Oh yeah, and no more washing silicone muffin wrappers individually!!​ HUGE time saver for me!! (Remember: healthy + efficient!)

Saute Pans + Skillet

In case you’re been under a rock the last decade, you already know the reason Teflon isn’t normally used on skillets any more. And although that non-stick surface was hella useful, it’s crazy toxic. Next best non-stick thing? Ceramic-coating! (If you have an induction cooktop, make sure to confirm the cookware works on it before purchasing!)

Enamel Coated Cookware

If you love the versatility of being able to go from cooktop to oven, or even fridge to cooktop or oven, then enamel coated cookware is the way to go! The only ‘con’ I have to these is that they are very heavy because they’re cast-iron on the inside, and that means my kiddos can’t feasibly handle them, and also it means it’s nearly impossible to hold the skillets at an angle to pour contents out. Otherwise, these pieces should last for years (and many high-end brands like Le Creuset should last a lifetime). Plus you can get them in a ton of really preeeetty colors! 🌈

Good Knives

The best kitchen tools for meal prep will always include a quality set of sharp knives. A good sharp set of knives can mean the difference between beautifully and quickly sliced foods and an urgent trip to the ER. Invest in some really good knives!! Better knives cost more, but they last longer and are more durable. Plus if they get dull, you can sharpen them!

Mixing Bowls

This may sound like silly advice, but coming from someone who VALUES minimalism these days, a really GOOD, DURABLE, POURABLE, and STACKABLE set of mixing bowls that only takes up a SINGLE shelf in my kitchen is a mega win!! 🏅

Not to mention that this specific set has graters and a slicer you can attach right on top of the bowl!!

Proper Labeling Tools #1: Sharpies

When doing meal prep, the gold standard for labeling baggies is the good ole’ Sharpie. And while I LOVE me some colored Sharpies, unfortunately teal and lighter colors just won’t cut it. Use BLACK, DARK BLUE, PURPLE, or RED.

Proper Labeling Tools #2: Dry Erase Markers

Guess what—DRY ERASE markers aren’t ONLY for a dry erase board!! They’re PERFECT for labeling FOOD CONTAINERS when you’re meal prepping or have leftovers!! 🤩

THESE dry erase markers are my favorite, because they have a fine tip, are black (same importance as the Sharpie situation), and they have a magnet, so you can keep it on the side of the fridge for easy access when labeling leftover containers! *And a tip–although you may be super tempted to use the wet-erase version (usually Vis-a-Vis brand), DON’T! If any moisture gets on the container, the words will smear right off onto your hands and then take 17 days to get off… speaking from experience.)

Meal Prep Cutting Board

Ok, so I’ve saved the BEST for last. I never realized how much of a pain it was cutting up tons of veggies and fruits for meal prep until I started. This is my FAVORITE thing ever! A cutting board with containers for what you’ve chopped under it! Eeeekkk! There are a couple of other options for meal prep cutting boards, but this one is by far my favorite!

So there ya have it! My list of the 15 best kitchen tools for meal prep! Keep in mind it’s not a dire situation if you don’t have these or can’t afford them right now. They simply make it easier to meal prep.

Got any more suggestions? Let’s hear them in the comments below!

Know someone that could use advice on what the best kitchen meal prep tools are? SHARE this post!

best kitchen tools for meal prep

10 Delicious + Easy Healthy Batch Cooking Recipes for Freezer Meals

Sure, batch cooking has saved my life some weeks, I’m not gonna lie. But batch cooking recipes for freezer meals is really one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s saved me countless hours in the kitchen, and countless days of mealtime stress. Having healthy freezer to slow cooker recipes is a must if you’re a busy mom. So let’s talk about the best tips for batch cooking for freezer meals.

*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links in which I get a small portion of the proceeds if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I trust and love.

healthy batch cooking recipes for freezer meals meal prep

What is freezer cooking

Freezer cooking is basically assembling meals into a container (or baggie) to freeze, so that you can later either thaw then just slide into the oven, or dump into a slow cooker and BAM! You’re done. They’re like the best thing since Spanx for stuff like the quarantine 15. (Freezer cooking can also be a form of batch cooking.) 

Assembling one-pot make ahead freezer meals dishes like this– especially when you set aside a day a week or even one day a month– basically gives you a free pass on any given night when you have one of these waiting in the freezer. No more frantically scrounging around for a 15-minute recipe just to find you don’t have the ingredients. No more expensive take out on evenings after a kid’s practice or late meetings. And no more flitting around the kitchen dodging kids and pets just to get dinner on the table.

It really is one of the best time management tools I’ve ever encountered as a working mom. Yes– I said time management tools. Know what else I’m gonna say? That time management is a form of self-care because it brings your stress levels down. Whoa. Yep–just went there. My philosophy is to make awesome health doable by merging healthy + efficient. And batch cooking does just that (as long as your recipes are healthy.) 😉

batch cooking recipes for freezer meals

Freezer cooking tools

So the best way to create these magical batch cooking recipes for freezer meals is to first have the right tools. Here’s my go-to list of tools that I use for my healthy freezer meals prep sessions:

1.Freezer bags. Yeah, I know that sounds self-explanatory, but as a mom who can’t hear herself think in the store because kids won’t stop talking to me, I can attest that I’ve accidentally bought ‘storage bags’ instead of freezer bags more than once. Sigh. Ok, so one time I tried to just use them cause they’re cheaper and that ended in a hole in the bag and freezer burn. Lesson learned. I’ve also tried doubling the storage bags but then you’re spending double. So just use the bags that are made for the freezer, already.

Sol!mo gallon freezer bags 👇

2. Baggie stands. Ohhhhh these things make my life so much easier during crockpot to freezer meals prep sessions. I started out using a 4-cup measuring cup to hold the bag up, but when you’re prepping freezer meals in bulk, just one of these won’t cut it. Especially when you have liquids going in the bags. (And yes, I’ve had them dump raw meat juice all over the floor before.)

Baggie stands 👇

3. Slow cooker or Instant Pot. So, some people don’t know this, but the Instant Pot has multiple functions and one of those is a slow cooker function. So you need either of these if you’re planning to prep slow cooker freezer meals. I recommend the Instant Pot because you can do so many different things with it and it takes the space of ONE single small appliance.

✅ 8 Quart 7-in-1 Instant Pot 👇

4. Foil pans. Unless you have an overabundance of glass or metal baking dishes, and can make do with them being in the freezer for potentially a few weeks or months at a time, I recommend using foil pans for freezer meal recipes like casseroles, sheet pan dinners, or lasagna. They should come with a foil topper that folds over to seal it but I recommend still putting plastic wrap ON the food to keep out air before securing the foil lid.

9 x 13 Foil Pans with Lids 👇

5. Sharpies. I know lots of people like to make their baggies and foil pans look all fancy with special labels, but I’ve yet to see any that didn’t buckle under the pressure of being frozen and fall off. I don’t especially like playing ‘dinner roulette’. Just use a Sharpie and call it a day.

4-Pack Black Sharpies 👇

6. Ninja system. This is another one of those all-in-one appliances that I super love because of everything it does. This blender is crazy powerful, and when you buy the whole system, you also get the food processor bowl that does all the veggie chopping you can throw at it for freezer meal prep. It also comes with the ‘bullet’ blender cup and other smaller cups that grate stuff and even spiralize. LOVE this thing.

Ninja Mega Kitchen System 👇

7. Other miscellaneous items. This includes things like measuring cups and spoons, a good set of knives, and multiple cutting boards. I sometimes also use herb scissors because they make mincing fresh herbs a breeze, and the garlic press unless I’ve got minced garlic in a jar in the fridge.

Do you cook freezer meals before freezing

Here’s the big question of the day. And the answer is usually NO. There are a couple of exceptions, like the ground meat in lasagna or the meat and mashed potatoes in Shepherd’s pie. There are some casseroles that you may need to precook meat or pasta, but the instructions will tell you. 

Also, you will cook part of the meal if you’re doubling a recipe (or tripling it) for mega meal prep batch cooking. Again–check the recipe.

What meals can I make to freeze

By far the most popular meals to freeze are slow cooker meals. They’re super easy to throw everything into a baggie, freeze, then dump it into the slow cooker first thing in the morning. Other meals you can make to freeze include soups, stews, sheet pan dinners, casseroles, bakes, lasagna, and even taco fillings. {Grab 10 freezer meals below! 👇}

How to prep frozen meals

Frozen meal prep really depends on the meal. Many of them recommend thawing out in the fridge the day before, then putting in the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. This holds true for casseroles in general as well. You would just thaw it in the fridge the day before and then put into the oven to cook before dinner.

I will say this: I don’t know what is going on with the quality of meat lately, but I’ve had a terrible time with roasts and even chicken being horribly dried out by cooking all day in the slow cooker. One day by accident I forgot that I hadn’t thawed the frozen meal the day before, so I just put it in as a frozen chunk around noon and set the Instant Pot slow cooker setting to high. That’s the first time I had a slow cooker freezer meal recipe with super juicy chicken. Unfortunately, all appliances have their own quirks, as do all cooks, and all recipes. So they’re at some point or another going to be trial and error. 

Another tip for reheating an already cooked casserole that’s been frozen is to place the frozen casserole directly into the oven (NOT pre-heated, still cold), then put the oven temp to the correct cooking temperature so that it gradually heats. Then add 20-30 minutes onto the cooking time. (Don’t put a cold, frozen glass dish into a hot oven!)

So take advantage of bloggers who have tested recipes, and get started batch cooking recipes for your own freezer meals!

batch cooking recipes for freezer meals

What are your biggest challenges with batch cooking freezer meals? Let me know in the comments below!

Know someone who’d love 10 freezer meal recipes? SHARE this post!

healthy easy freezer meals for instant pot crockpot or slow cooker to batch cook

Quit Stressing About Dinner With this Free Printable Weekly Meal Planning Template with Grocery List

Although soooo many of us are moving to everything tech, there’s something to be said for something that doesn’t take ten minutes just to pull up on my phone (like a super-snazzy, mega cute, free meal planning template with grocery list.) So this post is for those of us that like a physical, tangible paper that you can write on and see without relying on a phone, computer, or tablet. To meal plan tech-free.

meal planning template with grocery list editable

In all honesty, I use both methods depending on what mood I’m in that week (I can’t help it, I’m a Gemini.) I really want to be all tech-savvy, but half the time I actually need something easily accessible right up in my face that I can touch and write on. And to be honest, we could all use a break from our screens. That’s where a meal planning template with grocery list comes into play. My philosophy is to always merge healthy with efficient to make our health goals doable, and if/when I have days where tech is not cooperating, it means more time spent trying to work through glitches when I could just do it on paper in half the time.

meal planning template with grocery list editable

The meal plan tech free way

So in order to meal plan tech-free with a meal planning template and grocery list, what I created was basically my counterpoint to any meal planning app. It’s pretty simple actually. It’s a paper that’s folded in half. I stick it to the side of the fridge with a magnet (crazy high-tech, huh?)

Then throughout the week I use it to start our shopping list (things we’re out of, things we’ll need soon, staples, etc.) The list is already categorized for sections of the grocery store, and since I can be a bit OCD I have it ordered by the sections that I visit in my routine order.

This makes it a lot more time-efficient because I’m not crisscrossing back and forth in the store for things I didn’t see on the list while I was standing in that section 👉 Remember: healthy + efficient is where magic happens!

Planning day with a meal planning template

So when it gets to shopping day or the day before, I’ll go ahead and flip the editable meal planning template I’ve printed over to the other halved side where the days of the week are listed.

Then I can plan what meals we want for the week and what we want/need for lunches, breakfasts, snacks, too.

Then I open up the page and add all the things I need for the meals I just listed onto the meal planning shopping list.

Shopping day

I take the list with me to the store, and the rest is common sense. Anyway, I keep the meal planning side, so that when I get back home I can list all the things on the chalkboard we have on our kitchen wall. (This isn’t necessary, but I find that it eliminates the husband and kids asking me for an hour a day what’s for dinner because then they can just look at the wall for the corresponding day and see.)

So I know this meal plan template with grocery list method isn’t all glamorous and tech-ie, but for me it works if I’m not in the mood to deal with phone screens, tablets, or my computer.

I do, however, recommend creating a system for collecting and organizing recipes (like other than Pinterest– whole other story, read about the best meal planning app for your family HERE.)

If you don’t like going the tech way, and would like to try this method out, I’ve got just the editable meal plan template PDF that you can download and fill in any way you want. I also included a free weekly meal planner template word option. I put the basics in, but it’s totally editable, and you can change fonts, colors, and sections of the grocery store and order it any way you want (cut/paste.)

Click the image below to get your Meal Plan template with grocery list!

meal planning template with grocery list

So how do you normally meal plan? Is it a challenge right now? Do you want to try the digital way? Let me know in the comments!

And if you think this meal planning tech free post will help another Mama out, please SHARE!

free meal planning template and grocery list

Save 2 Hours a Week by Meal Prep Batch Cooking

In the midst of being a super busy mom, you’ve no doubt been lured by the possibility of saving time in the kitchen through meal prep or batch cooking. Whether or not you’ve tried it is another story. I’m here to tell you: DO IT!!

Meal planning saves me loads of time, sure. But batch cooking, whether slow cooker batch cooking or just bulk cooking things that go in the oven, saves me so much time it’s silly. My philosophy is always to figure out how to find the magic ✨ middle where we merge healthy with efficient so we can make prioritizing our health doable. So as long as you’re choosing healthy recipes to batch cook, you’re golden.

So let’s dive into all the little ditty details of batch cooking, how it can save you loads of time, and why should start now. 

meal prep batch cooking, cook once eat twice

What is batch cooking?

Batch cooking can be called many things these days. Sometimes it’s called meal prep batch cooking, batching, bulk cooking, and some even refer to it as cook once eat twice, cook once eat all week, that sort of thing. 

But the general idea is that you cook a lot of something. This can be either a lot of one ingredient to be used in many meals, several of the same recipe to be used later, or 2-3 sets of several recipes, all to be cooked later.

My two favorite ways to take advantage of the time-saving benefits of meal prep batch cooking is to designate one day a month or quarter to batch cook a whole bunch of freezer meals that can be thrown in the slow cooker on super busy mornings, or to batch cook meals for the week. This means choosing up to six meals that either all have the same protein prepared the same way, or I’ll split the recipes into two different types of protein and batch cook the proteins and chop and bag the veggies one on meal prep day at the start of the week. 

Is batch cooking cheaper?

I dare to say yes, you’ll save money batch cooking. Here’s why. 

1- You’re usually using a recipe that has individual ingredients, so you can control the cost of those. Meaning, if there’s seasonal produce vs something out of season, you can choose to use or not use that recipe at that given time.

2- If you’re buying the ingredients separately, you usually buy a large box, can, or package of it. Which is usually thought of as buying in bulk and tends to be cheaper anyway. It all comes down to the fact that you pay extra for ingredients to be mixed together for you already. Think about how expensive one pre-made meal is in the freezer section at the store.

3- When you already have dinner done, even if it’s in the freezer, you don’t eat out.

What can I cook in bulk?

There are several different types of foods you can cook in bulk, so let’s break them down a bit.

Proteins: Chicken, ground beef or turkey, pork, other cuts of beef. I wouldn’t pre-cook fish, but shrimp is usually available pre-cooked and frozen at the store, so I’d recommend just buying that frozen instead.

Vegetables: Most veggies can be cooked in bulk. I would consider this though: When you can things, you only really blanch the vegetable, not fully cook it. So this may be a consideration before cooking vegetables if storing in the freezer.

Breads: Dough (unrisen), muffins, scones, biscuits, etc. are great to cook in bulk and pop in the freezer for later.

Eggs: You can easily bulk cook eggs (boiled style) in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker, cook large amounts of scrambled eggs, or fry up as many eggs as your skillet can handle. All of these can be stored in the fridge a few days, or you can store in the freezer for later, up to 3 months. And if you’re trying to batch them as a separate ingredient for cooking or baking later, you can either crack eggs into a muffin tin, flash freeze then store in the freezer in a freezer bag; whisk together and store the mixture in a freezer bag; or even separate the whites and yolks and store separately in the freezer for later. (Don’t ever freeze in the shell–the insides will expand, which is no bueno.)

Grains: Rice, quinoa, and other small grains cook up and store in the fridge a few days or freeze just fine.

Apart from these individual ingredients, it’s super easy and convenient to bulk cook things like soups, stews, chilis, casseroles, lasagna, meat with sauce (think spaghetti or even tacos), and fillings for things to pop in the fridge or freezer for later.

My number one recommendation would be to make a list of your family staple recipes you eat often, and make those sauces or casseroles, etc in bulk and store in the freezer for the month until you need them. That’s a sure way to get dinner done quick that you know everyone will love.

How do you store batch cooking?

This really depends on your reason for batching. If you’re just cooking for the week, storing it in the fridge is fine for several days. But if it’s for longer, it should go in the freezer. 

This doesn’t hold true, though, if you’re batch prepping mixes for things like muffins, trail mix, or that sort of thing. If it’s a dry mix it should store fine in a dark and cool pantry. This is still something that many put in the freezer if they have room, though. It’s supposed to help the flours and other ingredients from going stale or rancid. And usually doesn’t need to be ‘thawed’ since it’s dry.

What meals can I batch cook and freeze?

I don’t really believe there is one perfect meal that you could batch cook and freeze. But that’s awesome, because it means there are several types of freezer meals you can batch cook! Here’s a rundown: 

Casseroles, soups, bakes, sheet-pan dinners, smoothies or smoothie mixes, stews, meats with marinades, slow cooker or crockpot meals, and any of the others listed above (breads, muffins, grains, etc).

Ready to give meal prep batch cooking a go? Get started with the one-week meal plan! 👇

batch cooking recipes, meal prep batch cooking, batch cooking meal plan

Have you given batch cooking a go yet? Let me know your biggest challenge in the comments below!

And SHARE this article with anyone else who may be interested in saving HOURS every week by meal prep batch cooking! 💕

meal prep batch cooking recipes meal plan

Meal Prep Ideas to Help You Save Time and Lose Weight

Finding meal prep ideas can undoubtedly be just as grueling as meal planning when you’re so busy every day. I get it– kids and work and quarantine (if that’s still going in your area). But the truth is, partnering meal planning with healthy meal prep ideas for weight loss can keep you on your diet (or get to losing that quarantine 15), keep you on budget, and also save hours in your week! It also saves loads of stress off you, which is why I include meal planning and easy meal prep in my definitions of self-care and stress management.

These things can be automated as routines that don’t take brainpower. You need some stuff off your plate, stat. And my philosophy is that when we merge healthy + efficient, we get a magical area ✨ that makes awesome health and ideal weight a doable daily thing. So let’s start with meal prep ideas to enhance your meal planning and weight loss efforts, shall we?

meal prep ideas to save time and lose weight

What Should I meal prep to lose weight?

The first obvious answer to this is to find healthy meal prep ideas that follow your chosen dietary style for weight loss. So if you’re doing keto, for example, you’d search ‘keto lunch meal prep’ or something similar. It’s easier and faster to find meal prep ideas for weight loss by using search terms that are very specific. Otherwise you’ll have loads of stuff come up that you don’t need.

If you’re not following any dietary style, search using the word ‘healthy’. In general, including protein, healthy fats, smart carbs (like whole grains– nothing refined and no added sugars), and fiber in the form of lots of veggies is the perfect formula for a filling meal that will fuel your body correctly. This means plenty of energy for walking, work, and taking care of kiddos the rest of the day.

To actually lose weight using meal prep, you’ll need to determine the number of calories, carbs, or macro ratios you’ll need for each meal, then plan accordingly. There are several apps that can calculate numbers for each recipe in this way. I use the Whisk app because it calculates all that automatically when you pull in a recipe.

{Recommended article: How to Find the Best Meal Planning App for your Family}

Can you meal prep for 7 days?

You can definitely prep for 7 days, but I recommend splitting the types of meals into ones that are fine for 3-4 days in the fridge, and then the rest for either the freezer or will store well in the fridge that long. This usually means meals to be reheated. Salads typically don’t do well sitting for that many days in the fridge. Produce can go bad at any time, plus when you mix veggies that way, one can make another go bad faster, especially when sealed up. 

I recommend being a little strategic about how you prep if you need a full 7 days. If you’re only doing meal prep salads, bowls, or wraps, go ahead and prep all the proteins and grains or starches, and maybe even chop the veggies. Then prep 3-4 days completely, but have the components of the last days of the week in separate containers in the fridge. Then you’ll need to do a quick prep session for the last few days of the week. 

Can you freeze meal prep?

This depends on the recipe. If it’s a recipe that you reheat, typically yes. If it’s a salad, no. You can, however, freeze some of the components of your healthy meal prep recipes. So any of the proteins like chicken, ground meat, shredded meat… those can usually just be frozen. Many of the veggies can be frozen as well. Veggies that contain a lot of water or are more fragile like cucumbers or lettuce don’t do well at all being frozen. Think about what you’d find in the freezer section. Those are the veggies and starches that will do fine freezing for a bit. 

If you want to freeze your recipes, though, I recommend doing batch prep with freezer meals. {Head to THIS PAGE to get 10 free freezer meal recipes!}

Where Can I buy food prep containers?

I usually use two different types of containers for my weekly meal prep, and it totally depends on whether or not the meal will go in the microwave to be reheated, OR if I’m doing a salad that’s on the go. 

If I need to reheat it, I use a glass pyrex-style dish. They’re rectangular, flat, and stack really nicely in the fridge.

{Check out this post for the Best Tools for Meal Prep recommendations!}

If I’m making a salad or bowl, I’ll either use the plastic meal prep containers (shown below) and add dressing right before eating it (because if you add it before it’ll make everything soggy), or I’ll use the Mason jar salad meal prep method if I’m taking it somewhere. The mason jar method is great because you can put dressings and anything more wet, like cut up tomatoes, at the bottom and then stack the rest of the greens and veggies, etc, vertically so nothing gets soggy before it’s time to eat it.

Cheap meal prep ideas

When it comes to cheap meal prep ideas, the general rule is to choose recipes with fewer ingredients. Yes, fancy seeds and sauces are nice and good. But when you need meal prep ideas on a budget, hitting your main macros will give you a delicious, filling, and nutritious lunch that’s easy on the bottom line cost. BudgetBytes has some awesome meal prep idea recipes that are extremely affordable.

What meals are good for meal prep?

Here are some awesome meal prep ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinners:

Breakfast meal prep ideas-

Lunch meal prep ideas-

Grab your free editable meal planning template by clicking below! 👇

Know someone else that would love to read about meal pep to save time and help lose weight? SHARE this post!

meal prep ideas to lose weight

How to Choose the Best Meal Planning App for Your Family

As a crazy busy mom, I can tell you that meal planning used to be one of the most stressful tasks I had until I found the best meal planning app for our family. I still use paper to write out meals to post on the fridge, but that’s more for my husband or kids because…ya know, they have questions. For the husband it’s to determine whether or not he wants to undertake dinner (“Like how complex is this meal and should I offer to cook it…?”) and for the kids I assume it’s to gear up for what level of complaining they should commit to for the evening.

So if you have any or all of these issues, I’m gonna walk you through what I believe should be the criteria for using and choosing the best meal planning for your family. Because bottom line is that to make great health doable on the daily, we need to merge healthy + efficient: that’s where the magic happens! ✨

best meal planning app

Why use a meal planning app?

  1. What’s funny is that moms usually think menu apps will free them of the harrowing job of searching for recipes and just designating something for the meal for the night. But the truth is that a meal planning app with grocery list can actually keep you on budget. I’m sure you’ve heard about the whole impulse buy phenomenon. It’s real. And the first line of defense against it is to have a grocery list while shopping. The next line of defense is to not go into the store, but do curbside pickup or delivery. Many of the best meal planning apps can now send your list straight to the store, which means you’re not going inside.
  2. The second reason to use meal planning apps is to help stay on a diet or dietary style. In all honesty, just not having to make the decision of a meal because it may or may not fit your dietary style is a huge load off your brainpower every day because it can serve as your healthy food planner. The same holds true for meal prepping lunches and breakfasts. And although I don’t know of a specific meal prep app, the idea is something worth exploring for anyone who needs to stay on a specific way of eating.
  3. The third reason for using meal planning apps is to save time, plain and simple. However, this requires you knowing how to use the meal planning app to its full potential, coupled with other tricks for efficiency (like being able to send your list straight to the store for pickup or delivery). But you should also be aware that any meal planner program isn’t necessarily better to do your weekly meal planning simply because you can pop a meal on a specific date. (More about that in a minute).
  4. And lastly, finding the best meal planning app for your family is a fantastic way to reduce stress. This is because of the enormous amount of information we process each day, in addition to the overload of decisions that we make daily. For moms, this is such a crazy amount it’s silly. All those thoughts and decisions compounded with things like clutter through the house and every other responsibility at home are the perfect storm for mega stress levels. (Why do you think organization sites and stores are so dang popular? Cause once you get a taste of freedom of your mind, there’s no going back!) And believe it or not, managing those stress levels should be priority one of self-care for your health and wellness.

What is meant by a ‘healthy meal planning app’

Ok this question needs to be addressed. I don’t believe there’s a such specific thing as a healthy meal planning app, per se. Many meal planning apps require you to input your own recipes, so in those instances the responsibility falls on you to make sure the recipes are ‘healthy’ or ‘not healthy’ per your own standards. Other meal planning apps have tons of recipes loaded, and can be set from the start to only give you recipes that fit your dietary style.

The problem with seeing any program as a healthy meal planning app is that many of these are recipe-sourced from bloggers who have no credentials or knowledge for deeming a recipe ‘healthy’. And believe me, I’ve seen many a thousand recipes labeled healthy that contained loads of refined grains and cups of sugar.

My recommendation is to choose an app or program based on your HABITS and what will fit your family best, then curate your own recipes based on your dietary style and types of meals that you need.

Meal planning app for moms or families

I’ve read through many recommendations for apps, and my conclusion is that there are several differences that will meet or fall short of your family’s needs. This is because every meal planning app or program has its own features. So it will really depend on what you need to fit your habits and alleviate your frustrations.

I’ve seen lots of clients and friends go through specific meal planner programs because they already had recipes in them, only to be disappointed at the recipes given. Many of these are not free meal planning apps, so they’ve been out of money for the app itself and out of all the time it took to learn it and try it out. So even though an app may claim to ‘personalize’ your meal plans, there’s no guarantee the recipes are any good.

I’ve also seen the mistake of thinking that the best meal planning app will set meals for specific days when the reality is it’s super easy to use the ‘collections’ function for grouping and planning your weeks. There aren’t many now, though, that don’t have a ‘meal planning’ function built in.

And lastly, things should be taken into consideration like how easy or hard is it to add recipes. If it takes too much time, you’ll likely get frustrated and quit pretty early in. Is the interface easy to use when it’s time to cook the meal? Can you edit recipes? Can you add your own? Are you able to send the grocery list to the store? And if so, which stores does it interface with?

All these questions should be considered when finding the best meal planning app for your family and your needs.

What is the best meal planner app

So here’s the million-dollar question, right? So I’m going to list the apps that I love best and recommend. And keep in mind that these are NOT apps or programs that generate a meal plan for you. These are apps or programs that allow you to collect and organize recipes (so it’s stuff you’re choosing), and then generate a shopping list. But they all have different functions and features. And keep in mind that what people think of as grocery list apps may or may not be just simply a list-making app. What we’re dealing with here are apps or programs that generate your shopping list for you based on the meals you’re cooking and send to the list.

If you really want a meal planner program that has specific dates for your meals laid out in order, the three I recommend are Whisk, MealBoard, or PrePear.

Whisk is the app I use and recommend first; it pulls in recipes super fast + easy. It’s also a free meal planning app. They’ve recently added the dated ‘meal planning’ function, which is awesome if you’re attached to dates with your meal planning. They have a Chrome extension and use the ‘send to’ feature on your phone where you can immediately edit or categorize your recipe with a few quick taps. (Meaning– awesome for those of us with nearly zero time to fool with copy/pasting a URL and then having more steps to get it into a category.) They now have a feature where others share their favorite recipes in groups that you can joing. Otherwise, for recipes you find elsewhere online, you pull in all that you want, and can edit any of them. But with how easy + fast it is, I’ve amassed a really large amount of recipes in very little time. It also can send your shopping list to the store, and is integrated with Walmart, many other local stores, and Instacart.

MealBoard has a ton of features that include storing recipes of your own, pulling in recipes (only by copy/paste of URL), editing recipes, and organizing into categories. It also allows you create ‘templates’, which are sets of meals you can name and reuse any time later. You can customize everything for yourself within this app, including multiple stores, the order of the store aisles, and even add pricing and barcodes for items. It also has a ‘pantry’ feature. What it does NOT do is send to any store. So when you generate a shopping list, you can either send it to someone else, or use it in the app in the store to shop. It also only has a couple recipes in it as examples, so all recipes will have to be imported that you use. It’s $4 in the app store.

PrePear also uses the dates for meals setup, but it DOES have recipes in the program. The downside to that is that it’s free with ads, and you can pull in SOME of the recipes for free, but they push buying an annual membership pretty heavily to have access to more recipes, ‘cookbooks’, and ‘meal plans’. These are all generated by bloggers. PrePear will generate shopping lists, and you can send to the store, but right now they only send to Walmart. You organize your recipes by ‘cookbooks’ and then within those you can create more sections. I’ve found it a little difficult to navigate this app and figure out how to add and organize recipes up front.

The last 3 apps I recommend at least exploring are really more for collecting and organizing. But if you have no interest in adding your own recipes or editing them, this may be a better meal planning option for you. These apps also don’t use ‘dates’ to set meal plans.

The first is Yummly, because of the 3, I recommend it most. It’s powered by food bloggers (every notice that little orange ‘yum’ button?) and has literally millions of recipes in it. I like it the most of the 3 because they do a great job of narrowing down your preferences and dietary needs from the start because of your ‘feed’ that shows up when you sign in. They also have a cool function where you input whatever ingredients you have on hand and it’ll give you recipes to make with them. You can create collections, and it has a ‘meal planner’ function that serves as a placeholder for the meals you want to cook for the week. You can send these to the store and it’s integrated with stores and Instacart. The downside is that you can’t edit anything or add your own recipes. For this reason, I usually use it as more of an exploration app to FIND recipes. I’m also not crazy about how they have each recipe set up when you open one. It usually forces you back to that blogger’s recipe post, and if you’ve ever had to fight 87 popup ads and 1000 words of text + images just to find the darn cooking instructions, you get my frustration with this.

Next is Tasty. This app is so colorful and fun, that sometimes I go in just to see what’s happening today. It does what Yummly does, except is a little less robust. It also does not have a ‘meal planner’ function. The collections function it has is nearly useless because they decide what to name or categorize the collections as. You can’t set that up for personalization. But if you need recipes, they’ve got it.

And lastly, I wanted to mention Food Network kitchen app. I’m not crazy about the cooking videos, etc, that they push the membership for. But they do have an insane amount of recipes. Their collection and organization methods are also subpar. But again–if you need recipes, you’ll find them here.

How to use ‘collections’ in apps for meal planning

I want to address the ‘need’ for you to have a meal planner app that has specific dates on it for meal planning. Because that shouldn’t be a limitation for you choosing an app that uses collections instead. I actually really like the collections option because you can set up collections as ‘templates’ or ‘weeks’ of recipes, then use them again. The Whisk app allows you to easily set multiple collections that any given recipe can be in at the same time, and I create a collection for ‘this week’ and ‘next week’ to plan weeks ahead of time for my placeholders.

Free template + how to use with apps

Get the free meal planning template and grocery list below and use it along with the best meal planning app for your family. 👇

I use paper templates STILL because my kids help add stuff to our grocery list all week. But I also have a paper listing out meals for anyone else to help out or just know what’s for dinner. It’s attached to the side of the fridge.

How do I make my weekly meal plan

Making a weekly meal plan doesn’t have to be hard. You obviously need to start out finding recipes that fit your dietary style and needs. This can mean following a specific blogger or site that has lots of those types of recipes, finding some on Pinterest, or even googling your search requirements. Recipes are super popular now, so lots of stuff will come up. Collect and organize everything you find.

Next you should figure out how many recipes you need per week based on your schedule. Do you eat out any? Plan for a leftover night during the week? Also consider your time available to cook. This may mean you cook a lot of slow cooker meals or even decide to do some mega meal prep. All these factors should go into the types of recipes you collect.

Once you know how many and what type of recipes you need, just start plugging them in. Either create ‘collections’ for the week you’re cooking or plug into the specific dates you need.

How do I make a meal plan and grocery list

Once you’ve made the meal plan per the above guidelines, you have two options: use strictly the meal planner grocery list feature to generate a shopping list (which you can add anything else you need in the store to), or you can transfer those ingredients in the list or recipes to a paper list, like the one in the free meal planning template and grocery list below.

{Click the image below to grab it! 👇}

best meal planning app

Again– I highly recommend you take a step back to evaluate your own habits and tech limitations to determine which is the best meal planning app for you and your family. It could make the difference between wasting a lot of time in an app you hate, or saving loads of time, frustration, and stress that can actually turn your evenings into joyful mealtimes with your family. 🥰

Know someone who could use some help choosing the perfect meal planning app? SHARE this post! 💕

the best meal planning app for your family

How to Stick to Your Diet with Meal Planning for Weight Loss

No doubt you’ve read many a trick, tip, or hack for losing weight, but as a nutrition specialist that works with crazy busy moms, meal planning for weight loss is by far the best trick there is.

Yes, we all aspire to meal plan on a regular basis to make sure our families are fed. But honestly, that’s where the problem is when it comes to losing weight. We get hung up on only dinners because we have to feed the kiddos. We’re not really going that one step further to think about the other meals for the day. Here’s how to stick to your diet with meal planning for weight loss.

How do you make a good meal plan for weight loss?

First things first: To lose weight, you must either create a calorie deficit, or reduce your carbohydrate enough that your body goes into ketosis. Creating a calorie deficit would be dietary styles like what I call ‘smart-carb’, Mediterranean diet, Paleo (for the most part), and plant-based (this is not an exhaustive list). Going into ketosis would be very low-carb diets and the keto diet. I won’t get into specifics for going into ketosis in this post.

What I will do is say that relying on packaged and ‘quick diet foods’ to reduce calories may help your bottom line, but it’s doing you zero favors in real health benefits. Which is why I recommend using nutrient-dense foods in a smart and purposeful way when going into a calorie deficit. This includes:

  • Quitting processed and packaged foods and added sugars (which are in nearly all packaged and/or processed foods). These foods make you think you’re still hungry when you’re really not. That can make it extremely difficult to stay on track when you have a certain calorie allotment per day.
  • Load up on vegetables and some fruits. Vegetables are full of fiber and vitamins, and will help you feel full faster and longer with smaller portion sizes. This includes legumes and beans, which are sorta like power foods in terms of fiber for weight loss. Fresh fruits are good, but in limited amounts. Make sure you’re having way more vegetables than fruits. Fruit with the fiber is good (and a million x better than packaged foods), but remember that fruit contains fructose. Fructose still makes an impact on your insulin response, and every time it’s hit up for more insulin, it sends the signal to store fat. Which is the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish. So if you have fruit, pair it with a protein and a healthy fat. Great examples of these would be an apple + peanut/almond butter or blueberries + a cheese stick.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough protein and fiber. Both help you feel full faster and longer, and protein helps you build muscle when doing strength training. This matters because more lean muscle will also boost your metabolism.
  • Try using a meal planning app. Yeah, I get it– some of us are die-hard paper planners. But storing all those recipes makes it hella easier to get organized and have a good recipe on the ready when it’s time to sit and plan. Get ahead of the game by choosing a good one, getting organized, and always use it when you find something good (ie-quit tossing them on your Pinterest board that you never look at again!)

{Recommended: How to Choose the Best Meal Planning App for Your Family}

Is meal prepping good for weight loss?

Oh my goodness YES! Meal prepping makes actual meal cooking take less time, and allows for spending more relaxing time with family during cooking and meal time!

One of the first things I recommend to clients is to meal prep anything you can. But also, pull in help. This can be a segway to teaching your kiddos cooking as a life-skill plus allows time to have conversations. Purposeful time like this is crazy important for them and you! It can also be a great way for you and your partner to connect and get on the same page for meals and maybe your plans for the week. I have lots of clients who end up pulling their partner into meal planning and change the way they both eat, resulting in healthy clean eating being a family affair.

Meal prepping for weight loss is so important because you’re not only planning out your meals (which is the number one way to stay on track with your diet), but also making sure it’s doable. We all have crazy lives when we have kids and a business to run, so having a plan and doing your prep work up front is everything when you’re trying to stay within specific calories or carbs every day!

Also, meal prepping allows you to make sure your breakfasts, snacks, and lunches are taken care of as well. This is the biggest time for downfalls when trying to lose weight, because any small meal during the day is an afterthought, until it’s not. And if you don’t have a plan in place, the hangry you will win with whatever’s most convenient. Which is usually processed and full of empty calories.

What is a good meal plan for weight loss?

A good meal plan for weight loss starts with outlining your schedule, how much time you have for meal prep and cooking, and obviously–how many calories or carbohydrates you need as your daily limit. To determine your caloric needs as a start, calculate your basal metabolic rate. Once you know that, you can cut that number according to your activity level and adjust from there.

Calculate your caloric needs with this calculator :

EER Calculator – Estimated Energy Requirement

So now that you have an idea of the deficit you need in calories daily to lose weight, use that as a guide for your meals. Two options for keeping track of those that I recommend are either MyFitnessPal (which integrates with Fitbit) or the Whisk app for recipe collection and meal planning. You can read more about that HERE. Why I love Whisk is that it was designed with data in mind and calculates all macros and calories for any recipe you put in. That way you know exactly how much of the recipe you can have portion-wise (or if you don’t need it at all!)

The Ultimate How-to Meal Planning for Beginners Guide

How to Meal Plan for Beginners Guide

As a busy mom, I’m sure you can relate to the dinner-time frenzy of ‘what’s for dinner?’, as well as the panic that beginners of meal planning encounter regularly. It’s seriously draining to have tiny humans to feed when you have no clue how to meal plan or where to start meal planning. 

I actually advocate meal planning as one of the FIRST things to get in order in your household to help reduce stress. (Seriously–order and a plan = calm + collected).

Finding the magic ✨ middle between healthy + efficient will change everything.

But there are actually a lot of other reasons to meal plan, and here’s why you should get your ish in order and get started!

meal planning for beginners

1. Benefits of meal planning

Meal planning is one of those things that people just hate doing. It usually feels like an impossible task, not knowing where to start or end. Most people are very confused about what meals they should include for staying with a particular dietary style, which meals through the week they should plan for, and how make the shopping lists.

I get it—before I started meal planning it felt completely overwhelming. Evenings were stressful, because even if we did agree on a meal, I had no idea if we had the ingredients to make it. (Forget whether or not it fit into our ‘diet’ we tried to adhere to at the time!) The frustration of not ever really knowing what was for dinner got the best of me once we had kids and our time became a gazillion times for valuable (because it was qucily becoming in more short supply).

That’s when I decided to get serious about meal planning.

And you know what? I discovered that there were several benefits to  meal planning I didn’t even realize until we were into it a couople weeks.

First, our ‘diet’ we were trying to follow—we stuck to it because I took the time to search out recipes that followed it. The confidence it built in both my husband and I after eating good for two weeks was amazing! That alone helped us stay motivated to keep working out as well. We didn’t want to waste our efforts at proper eating habits.

Second, we saved money. (Serious.) When you have an actual plan, you don’t wander through the store and grab at whatever looks good. You get your stuff and get out. This also allows to intentiaonally search up recipes that cost less if you’re serious about bringing your budget down on groceries.

Third, we eliminated multiple trips to the store. Translation: time saver!! We honestly didn’t have time to make so many trips to the store in the first place, and this just put me into panic runaround mode the days I had to ‘stop real quick’. Think about how much time (and brainpower) it’s taking for you to realize you forgot something or you’re out of whatever you dreamed up for dinner on a whim, then the time to get into the store (especially if you have to take kids in with you!), the time in the store, loading the car back up, then unloading everything while unloading kids. Oh yeah—and getting everything put up. This can suck hours out of your week. Only one trip a week has saved me boatloads of time!

And last, our stress levels were exponentially less in the evenings. That may sound like an exaggeration, but I’m not kidding. There was no scrambling around, no arguments, no searching online like a madwoman for something—anything—I could make with mushrooms and ajar of relish. We had a plan, we both helped in cooking every night, and we started having some amazing conversations while spending relaxing before-dinner time with the kiddos.

So now that you’re convinced you’re definitely on the right track–

2. How do you start meal planning?

Meal planning will come down to a couple of different things.

First, are there any dietary styles you need to adhere to? If so, those are the kinds of recipes you need to search up.

Second, how many people will you be cooking for at night? Think about if you need to cook for adults and kids.

Third, do you want to take advantage of leftovers for lunches? This will determine the number of servings you cook of the dinner recipe. This is a GREAT way to also make sure you stay on track with your dietary style. As long as you cook your dinners in that style, you’re assured your lunch is the same when you’re using them as leftovers. Plus you don’t have to go searching for lunch when you’re hungry. It’s already done and ready in the fridge.

Do you need to plan for breakfasts, snacks, or more lunches? If so, you should also account for these when sitting down to meal plan.

3. How do I create a weekly meal plan?

Creating a meal plan takes a little time each week, but once you have a system set, you begin to follow it automatically and it gets easier.

The first thing you should do is print out a meal planning template (which you can get below), and find recipes. Consider all those things above when coming up with your plan.

Next, start filling in the days and slots you need a meal for with the recipes you’ve found. Think about any nights you won’t be home for kids’ practices, nights you eat out, or nights you’re planning for leftovers. Mark those out or make a note.

You’ll also want to note any nights you want to cook but it needs to be simple or a slow cooker meal that you threw in first thing in the morning to be ready by dinnertime.

Third, you’ll need to create shopping lists. This can be done by either using recipe or meal planning apps, or by simply writing a list with a meal planning template and shopping list template yourself while looking at the recipe. It’s a little time-consuming, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not difficult.

Fourth, double-check you don’t already have those ingredients (I hate when I buy something I already had 5 of !)

Last, I suggest posting your weekly meal plans somewhere anyone can find it. This is so that if your partner needs/wants to start the meal, or even has questions about it, you always have a designated place so there are no questions.

4. Meal Planning Template With Shopping List

Meal planning templates with a shopping list can be very simple, planning only for dinners, or you can find very complex meal planning templates when you need to plan for multiple meals per day. The advantage of printing these out is that you have a very clear, organized picture of your week right in front of you.

meal planning for beginners

5. Schedule in Meal Planning Every Week

One of the biggest mistakes I see beginners make is not taking the time to meal plan, and not making it a priority. If you’re serious about saving time in your week and nixing the constant anxiety about what’s for dinner- schedule in a time to sit and do meal planning every single week! 

6. Get organized

Every time I ask a client where their recipes are, I know what’s coming: “Oh they’re on my phone”. But the where is the bigger issue. I know how this works– we get going down the recipe rabbit hole on Pinterest, pin a thousand recipes that all look amazing, then we never see them again. 

Friend! Stop doing this!! If you find something you think looks fantastic and your family will love it, do yourself a HUGE favor and get organized with your recipes so you can find them again later!! I use a recipe organization app that’s amazing at analyzing nutrition information, too. They use a ‘collections’ feature to organize recipes, and (although they will have an official ‘meal planner’ feature soon within the app), I use that ‘collections’ feature to do my meal planning. Plus they generate my shopping list and you can send it any store from there for shopping– SO EASY!!

7. Save + Reuse Favorites

This one is so easy, but always easily forgotten. When you find something that everyone likes, don’t forget to save it and reuse it. These start to fall under the category I call ‘Family Faves’. What’s so great about these is that once you’ve made it a time or two, it starts to be second nature– meaning it takes you less time and brainpower to make it. Heck-some of ours I actually know all the ingredients by heart now! 

So now that you have your steps in order for how to meal plan, grab the free meal planning template with shopping list below and get started! 👇

meal planning for beginners

Know someone else that could use help meal planning? SHARE this post!

meal planning for beginners meal planner with grocery list