I’m completely convinced that the secret to losing weight/staying healthy is organization: planning your meals, planning your workouts… Most people have plenty of motivation, it’s just difficult to find the time! That’s why I’m beyond obsessed with my latest purchase, Easy Lunchboxes.
(And yep, those are my actual meals!)
***UPDATE (March 2016): If you’re interested in strictly gluten-free meal prep, make sure you check out Super Simple Gluten-Free Meal Prep after you finish with this post! :) I just added a lot of new ideas!***
Now, you can definitely get the same effect with a different brand container, but after a lot of research (#majordorkmoment – who researches plastic containers??) I decided these were by far my favorite.
Warning: This next part’s not gonna get any cooler…
It turns out, there are a couple different staples in the world of cute meal prep containers (a.k.a. bento boxes).
I started out with Ziploc, but who are we kidding – there’s no way I could resist all of those different colors (and minature dipping containers!) that come with Easy Lunchboxes ;) I also went a lil crazy and bought these adorable condiment containers (that were, admittedly, probably designed for lil kids):
But who cares?! They’re so cute! ♥
For anyone who missed my first post on meal prepping, you can catch up here. Or, if you just need to grab a new template, download away!
Getting started with meal prepping can seem crazy overwhelming at first (lil panda bear containers or not…). That’s why I wanted to take a couple of minutes to go over a few strategies and some super easy recipes.
Think of this as a Beginner Bento Tutorial :)
1. Get organized on Pinterest
Create four boards: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks. Start searching on Pinterest (and Googling other sites) for healthy recipes that you’ll actually eat. For Pinterest newbies: install a Pin It button on your toolbar (don’t be scared! it takes like two clicks) – that way, when you see a picture or recipe on another site, you can quickly pin it to your collection!
For a bit of a head start, check out my boards :) They’re small – but growing!
2. Write out your one-week plan
Using the template above (or any other paper of your choice!), write out your one-week plan – noting all groceries that you need to buy as you go (that way, you’re less likely to forget ingredients). Still stuck on what to make? Remember: You always want to pair a lean protein with a complex carb (that’s why chicken and brown rice, egges and veggies, etc. are such fitness go-to’s!).
3. Cook and pack!
Most people recommend ‘prepping’ all of your foods first (i.e., dicing fruit/chopping onions for every recipe). But honestly? When I first started, I found it a lot easier to just cook one thing at a time. Sure it takes longer, but until you get a better feel for what you’re making it’s a lot more fun to accomplish one thing and then move on – versus triple-checking every recipe and trying to figure out out how much 1/3 cup + 1/4 cup + 2 1/2 cup onions is!
I’ve provided links below to some of my favorite (easy!!) recipes. I organized things by this week’s boxes (above) to help give you an idea of what to pair with what :)
- Steel cut oats + mini egg-white spinach quiches + blackberries
- Carrot oatmeal muffins + celery w/PB + strawberries + 1tbsp. cream cheese
- Clean eating chicken salad + natural popcorn (kernels + EVOO!) + organic applesauce
- Sauteed shrimp + quinoa (with herbs) + tomatoes and onions
- Greek yogurt w/cinnamon + chopped almonds + strawberries + nut thin crackers + mini orange
- Whole grain bread (half pita) + apple butter + celery + PB + cherry tomatoes
- Grilled steak + arugula salad (I buy arugula pre-mixed with spinach) + peaches
- Steel cut oats + chicken sausage + sugar-free syrup + blackberries
- Carrot oatmeal muffins + 1tbsp. cream cheese + celery w/PB + natural popcorn
- Clean eating chicken salad + mini orange +nut thin crackers
Note: These meals aren’t 100% ‘clean‘ but, if you’re a regular reader, you know I’m a big fan of moderation ;)
Please let me know if you have any questions! :) I hope this information has been helpful… and if you’re interested in saving some extra grocery money, check out this post on couponing and clean eating ♥
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Other Posts You Might Like:
- Super Simple Gluten-Free Meal Prep
- Positive Psychology: The Science of Beyonce
- How to Be Optimistic (Like a Boss)
- Gluten and Depression: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
- What Percent of Happiness Can We Control?
- Exercise and Mood: The Basics
- ADHD, Autism and the Gluten Connection
- Depression Research Everybody Deserves to Know
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Do you make your lunches and then store them in the fridge or freezer?
Such a great idea! Especially if your only free time is on the weekends!
Jessica Walters says
Hi Catherine! :) I store everything in the frig… in a perfect world, I prefer cooking/prepping every 3 days, to keep things even fresher… but when I have a crazy week, a big Sunday prep like this def works! :)
omg, thank goodness i found your page! you aren’t the only nerd here; i actually came across your page trying to look for good containers lol. I’m an organizing junkie & cute containers always make it fun haha. i literally died when i saw those condiment containers. i swear i’ve been looking for something like those!
thanks for sharing!
Jessica Walters says
LOL! So good to hear! And glad you found us :) Happy packing hehe
Love your page! I see you have popcorn with applesauce and chicken salad. Do you just store the things that need to be kept cold in the easy lunch boxes in the fridge, and then when you are ready to go just add the popcorn? (or pretzels or crackers or whatever). I want to do this with my toddler’s lunches but just wondered what your system was with the stuff that stays in the pantry. Hope that makes sense!
Jessica Walters says
Hi Lindsay! Yep, that’s exactly what I do – although, if I know I’m going to be in a time crunch, I’ll sometimes throw the popcorn in with the frig stuff (I don’t mind – but kids might be a lil more picky about cold popcorn! lol). I also try to organize my non-frig items (like brown rice) in a simple, easy-to-reach place so I don’t have to spend too much time or effort thinking about what else I need to add. Hope this helps! :) Let me know if you have any other questions, and thanks for reading!
Hi! I love your meal planning ideas :-) thanks for the recipes as well! You have inspired me to start my own meal planning process and I had a question regarding the green and blue silicon cups, if that’s what they are. Are they cupcake mold ones and would you be able to tell me where you purchased them at? They are very cute and good way of dividing as well!! Thanks for your time!
Jessica Walters says
Hi Jazmin! They’re silicon baking cups. I just went to Amazon and searched for “bento box accessories” and they popped right up :) So excited to hear you’re getting into meal planning – you’ll have to stop back with an update! Wishing you all the best! :)
Ozlem Peters says
I am new to all of this but have a question, o you have to freeze the meals or do you just refrigerate them. Also how long do different types of meals last in the refrigerate? Sorry if these questions don’t belong in the comments. If you have a beginners website I could have the link to that would be awesome. Thanks:)
Jessica Walters says
Hi Ozelm, No worries at all! I refrigerate the meals featured in this post, but you can also freeze different types of meals furtherin advance if necessary. However, I recommend separating each type of food into a separate container when freezing :) Hope this helps!