As a personal chef, I work every week to make whole food meals taste as delicious as possible. Beyond that, I’m always looking at ways to prioritize nutrient dense nutrition while streamlining the own process! Here are my top time-saving meal prep tips.

Don’t try and do everything at once

While it may seem counter intuitive to prolong the meal prep process, save time by breaking meal prep into smaller steps.

Already at the computer going through email? Then it’s time to write a quick menu plan and shopping list.

Shop for groceries when out running errands or on the way home from work.

Typically, cooking and clean-up takes around three hours. I know I’m best at cooking during the afternoon. Trying to do it all in one day is possible, but it’s not optimal.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Taking a few minutes to sit down, make a list, and plan out shopping makes a trip to the store more time efficient and leaves out impulse buys.

Use a networked option like Evernote, Google docs, Notes on your phone, or a favorite notebook, and stick with a system.

Try resist the urge to search over Pinterest or the “entire” internet, it’s a black hole. Instead, look at the same sites over and over again and get to know someone’s personal style and expertise.

Keep the cooking simple

Save time and energy by limiting the number of ingredients and using methods like roasting or stir fry. The Instant Pot pressure cooker is a great hands-off tool to add to your repertoire.

Recipe Sites for Meal Prep Inspiration

(where you will also learn some cooking techniques!)
Nom Nom Paleo – The BEST collection of Instant Pot Recipes
Primal Gourmet – Want to cook a perfect steak? Great videos and instruction
101 Cookbooks – Seasonal vegetarian and Instant Pot recipes

Organize your workflow

Turn on your favorite podcast or tunes and get to work. But first, how can you maximize your workflow?

Place a trash can near your workspace.

Put a bowl for veggies scraps on the counter that can be used for broth or compost.

Start off by chopping a tray of vegetables to roast in the oven or preparing a dish for the Instant Pot.

Then, go for the stove top dishes and fresh salads while other items are cooking.

It’s not uncommon to see the oven, toaster oven, pressure cooker, stovetop and counter surface all in action during a meal prep session.

Get in, get dirty, get out.

Prioritize Protein & Complex Carbs

It’s always going to be convenient to heat up some oatmeal or a slice of gluten free toast during the week. Where most people get tripped up with nutrition is being left without enough protein and vegetable dishes.

If you’re in the gym and looking to hit protein goals each week, you might consider cooking up a few pounds of available protein sources. With proteins, make a double batch. Chicken thighs, meatballs or beans all save great in the freezer.

Cook a tray or two of root vegetables for the week to mix into bowls, or for a quick post-workout snack. Sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, beets, and turnips can all be roasted together and taste great with simple sauces and greens.

Finally, don’t cook hungry or … hangry?

Pick up and go meals and snacks you can eat while you prep –

+ Rotisserie chicken + Romaine + Guacamole
+ Hummus + Pesto + Veggies Sticks
+ Apple + almond butter
+ Protein powder smoothie

Like any skill, eating a whole foods diet takes practice and consistency. The process becomes easier the longer you do it. Let us know how your meal prep is going!

Author Melinda Mrachek Staehling is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, NASM certified Personal Trainer, and M.S. candidate in Human Nutrition & Functional Medicine. Her passion is helping people develop healthy habits so they can be the very best version of themselves.

Hyatt Training is a collective of certified, enthusiastic and innovative personal trainers in Portland, Oregon. To read more nutrition-related posts like this one, follow this link.