How to Meal Prep - Meal Prep 101

Meal Prep 101 For Beginners

How To Meal Prep :

The Perfect 3 Ingredient Meal Prep Template to Get You Started

Are you just getting started with Meal Prep but need help with meal prep ideas?

One of the most powerful steps you can take to improve your health, boost energy levels, and prevent chronic diseases is to meal prep. Here is the why and how to help you get started on your meal prep journey plus an easy template to think about when you're grocery shopping or planning meals for next week.

NOTE: Do you know your TDEE? How about your BMR?  One of the things that could be discouraging is not knowing some of the most popular terms for meal prepping. Take a minute to review our Library of Terms to familiarize yourself with common language for health and wellness.

Meal Prep 101 and a few things to consider before getting started:

  • Know your WHY and Write Out Your Goals?
    • Weight loss
    • Fat loss
    • Build  muscle
    • Save money
    • Free up time during the week
  • Are there other things you need to achieve your goals?
  • Do you have a system?
    • Start slow! Don't bite off more than you can chew right off the bat!
    • Meal prepping doesn't have to be done on Sunday night! Some people work night shifts, some people have weekends off... this needs to be a plan that fits your lifestyle. Sometimes, just simply having a few ready-to-go meals available, but having the flexibility to pick what to eat on the fly, is the best strategy.
  • Get a baseline for your daily calorie intake HERE
    • NOTE - Stop after you fill out and calculate the first section. Your calorie recommendations will appear in Section 2.

With weekly meal plans, Workweek Lunch takes the hard work out of making nutritious meals the whole family will enjoy.


Step 1: Plan Your Meals

Make sure each meal includes a balance of lean protein, carbohydrates (starch), vegetables, and healthy fats. One suggestion is, 2-3 days before your meal prep day, email yourself a list of meals that you will want to eat the next week. When you go shopping, just buy for those meals. This will save you money in the store because you won't be overrun with impulse buys.

meal prep combo cheat sheet

NOTE: It's also important to include one of the healthy fats listed below.

Most Common Foods to Meal Prep:

Protein Ideas for Meal Prep:

  • Chicken breast*
  • Chicken thighs
  • Turkey breast*
  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Haddock
  • Shrimp
  • Tilapia
  • Tuna
  • Steak
  • Ground Beef*
  • Pork*
  • Sausages
  • Bacon
  • Eggs
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Protein Powder
  • *Cutlet, ground, strips, etc. Try to look for options that are 93% - 99% lean.

Plant-Based Protein Options:

  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Edamame


  • Quinoa
  • Rice (brown, white, jasmine, black, wild grain)
  • Potatoes (sweet, Japanese, red bliss)
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Rolled Oats
  • Oatbran
  • Whole grain cereal
  • Whole grain bread


  • Spinach
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Snow peas
  • Squash (butternut, acorn, spaghetti squash, kabocha)
  • Jicama
  • Salad fixings (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, peppers, onions, etc)


  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Apricots
  • Plum
  • Apples
  • Kiwi
  • Melon (cantaloupe, honeydew)
  • Pineapple
  • Pumpkin

Healthy Fats:


  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • Flax oil


  • Almonds
  • Macadamias
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Brazil nuts


  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seed
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds


  • Ghee
  • Avocado
  • Almond Butter
  • Peanut Butter
  • Toasted Coconut
  • Cheese

If you don't have time to plan for yourself, here are 5 meal planners that we recommend: 5 Best Meal Planning Apps

Step 2: Create your Meal Prep shopping listed based on the meals you planned

You don’t want to be mid-prep and missing an ingredient! Check what ingredients you already have on hand and then add what you are missing to your list. Check out our resource page for multiple checklists, grocery lists (low carb, whole30, paleo, gluten free, etc) , and calendars.  If you need a little help with weekly Meal Prep ideas, here is a Week 1 Meal Prep menu that you can reference

Here is an example of a Low Carb Shopping / Pantry List:

Low Carb Shopping List
Click to Pin

Step 3: Prep your meals for the week

Click HERE ~~~> Meal Prep Reminder <~~~ to set a calendar reminder on your phone or computer to block out 2-3 hours this weekend. One you get it on the calendar In less than 3 hours you can have a full weeks’ worth of healthy, wholesome and delicious meals ready to go!

Click HERE to search our library of over 500 Meal Prep Recipes!

perfect meal prep combo

Here are some helpful resources for finding meal prep recipes:

1. Meal Prep on Fleek

- You can easily do the same thing on, as you can on Pinterest, the selection is just much more limited (to things we actually eat) instead of having millions of results to filter through you have only a couple hundred.

- Some key things to look for on are our Quick Search tabs and categories. You can easily click and filter through categories like; Paleo, Whole30, Vegetarian, Chicken, Calorie ranges, and more…

2. Our Meal Prep Mastery eBook! 

Click Here to Download

3. Workweek Lunch Meal Planner

Enjoy more time, money and homecooked meals with WWL’s Meal Planner! Get 1 Free Meal Plan and a 7-Day free trial with WWL's Pro Monthly Membership:

create a meal plan

4. Pinterest 

- Start your search with the broadest category of ingredient or goal and narrow your search results from there. For example, if you’re macros indicate that you need to lower your carb intake, search for “Low Carb Dinners” + Combine that with the main ingredient in your fridge or freezer and you’re already 50% of the way there. “Low Carb Chicken Dinner”

- Once you have narrowed it down to your goal and main ingredient, then you can search through the recipes to see what looks good.

- When you see a couple recipes that look good, click through to find out what the nutrition values are. You want to make sure that each meal aligns with your macro goals. Or in other words, all of the food you eat for the day should make up your macro goals.

Here are some great boards to check out first:

meal prep for weight loss


    1. Hi Ariel - When I meal prep, I make 10 meals on Sun night, that will be eaten Mon-Fri. During the week, my meal schedule is a 5am (protein shake), 9am (meal 1), 1pm (meal 2), and dinner at 5pm. I only prep meals for my 9am and 1pm meal, so I don't have to worry about cravings or going out to eat when I'm working.

      What is your schedule like? It's possible that you would only want to prep for 1 meal per day, if you're able to accommodate your other meals. You should definitely be eating a breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the least

        1. Hi James -

          Each person would have a different meal based on their personal food preferences, fitness goals etc.
          For me (Sarah) I do not eat a 9am meal. I eat 3 big meals a day. As long as you include a balance
          of carbs, protein and healthy fats you should be good!

    1. Hi Susan! Quinoa is actually both a carbohydrate source and a complete protein source. One-half cup of cooked quinoa contains about 30g of carbohydrates, 3g of fat and 5g of protein. Because of this nutritional profile, it falls under something called "starchy proteins." We hope that answers your question! Have a great day!

  1. I just write out my plans to reach my goal.I suppose to work accordingly to execute my plans properly.My diet plans are really simple and the list which you mentioned in the post is cool.
    I'll share this post with newbies that recently joined our gym.

  2. Can you give an idea of serving/amounts of each that you place in the container? I have been using 1/4 cup to 1/2 cups on some things when I meal prep. I also under stand portions but I think it would be easy if you included that in your guide as examples. Great blog!

    1. Thank you for the feedback Dana! Portions vary based on person and goals, but we are actually working on piece right now to help calculate those portions based on your goals. =)

  3. 1- For how many days can we store cooked chicken?
    2- What is the best way to cook chicken so it can be used for next 5 days?

    1. 1 - 4-5 days and you should be good with fully cooked chicken.
      2 - We typically bake chicken, but the key for cooking chicken is to have it cook through consistently. Try flattening the chicken out to get a consistent thickness for the whole chicken breast.

  4. How long does it keep? Is it advisable to keep the veggies, carbs and protein in one container? Wont that spoil by day 5? Should you put in ref or freezer? Thanks 🙂

      1. Hi Carrie - Which meal are you asking about specifically? Some can be frozen, but most we recommend only refrigerating.

  5. Could you give me some idea for meals,I work a new shift pattern which are nights days & evening and i am finding it hard to prep and eat the right meals for the right times. I am 54yrs and don't seem to be able to loose or keep my weight down , this may be due to eating the wrong meals at the wrong time.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Kevin. Thank you for reaching out! We'll get some ideas together for you and send them over asap. Do you have access to a microwave or will you primarily be eating cold meals?

  6. Hi

    Love this page . Just corm across in the daily mail. Please can you suggest meal ideas., I don't eat fish . Most diet meal plans contain Fish . I have access to microwave at work

  7. Can you please more specific on the amount each meal and snack should contain? I'm assuming this plan includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks?? I appreciate the great information 🙂

    1. Hi Anica! We do not give our specific amounts since each person requires a different number of calories, carbs, protein and fats each day. We recommend finding out what your custom macronutrient needs would be and then creating a plan off of that! We will be sharing an article soon on how to calculate your own macronutrient needs! Or you can reach out to Sarah here: if you are looking for a more customize plan!

  8. Hello, I am new to all of this, but it looks like a good way to live. My husband will be harder to bring on board.

    1. We wish you the best of luck Rosalinda! Hopefully you can find some inspiration here on MealPrepOnFleek! Once your husband sees how much easier the week is and how much better he feels we are sure he will jump onboard!

    1. Hi Sunny! That is a great question! While canola oil isn't the worst choice, it is also not the best. Canola oil is usually genetically modified thus containing lower essential nutrients. We would recommend sticking with the oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, grass fed butter, avocado oil, etc.

  9. Hi just had gastric sleeve surgery and an still on the liquid diet but in 3 1/2 weeks will be on foods again. It will be a 15 carbs, 60-80 protein and 500 cal per day diet. I want to be able to meal plan and assemble meals over the weekend for my m- f work week. Can you give me pointers? No beef or pork for the next 6 months at least. Thanks

    1. Hi Marcie - Thanks for reaching out. Given your situation, it would be best to follow the recommendations of your doctor with those macronutrient goals. Unfortunately, we do not have any meal plan recommendations that would fall into such a low calorie range at this time. We are sorry we couldn't be of more help, but we wish you the best of luck with your journey!

  10. Such an easy 3 category system to mix and match. I have been have a REALLY hard time shedding weight, I work out 5 times a week, and I've recently been eat prepped meals, 5 times a day roughly 3 hours apart. I know things take time and I'm sticking to this routine, but getting help on ideal measurement/qty of each thing in the categories would be tremendous help!!

  11. Hi, I am a high school teacher and new mom. It's so hard to get the time to make meals during the week so I would love to start meal prepping. I would love some ideas on great combinations or recipes to make meal prep a little easier. THanks!!

  12. I love to be healthy and live longer. Healthy and delicious meal is part of my daily life. Looking at this pictures your meal combo looks great:) Like it a lot!

  13. Do you think it's okay to replace breakfast with just a protein shake? and just have lunch and dinner (snacks in between) after that? Also could you tell me which protein shake's you use and where to get them?

    1. It really depends on your body Ellie. I (Nick) personally do a protein shake for my first meal of the day. I've been using the Nutrex Protein for my morning shake. Just FYI... If you order from them online, you will receive 30% discount with Coupon Code: MPOF =)

  14. Hi! What a great idea for menus. I will be making meals for 6 days. What should I freeze and what would be ok in the fridge?Or is it ok to freeze it all?
    Thanks for your time,

  15. Hello I'm Brea and I'm about to start working two full-time jobs and a part time job so my question is can I freeze the food once it's in the individual personal containers because some nights I will need them and others i won't because sometimes my parents will cook. Will the food still be okay if frozen?

  16. Hi, I am new to this. How do I know how much to eat in each food. Example: how much grams of rice, noodles, veggies, meat, etc. Everyone is different, I think, but how do I know mine?

  17. Meal prep is such an important thing for people who are tying to get in better shape and/or build some serious muscle. I'm surprised it's not discussed more. Great post!

  18. The fact that you have bacon on here under healthy and ‘weight loss’ completely discredited this site for me. Bacon is not healthy and clogs arteries. Maybe once a month is okay. Also for ‘weight loss’ one should be focusing on PLANT BASED carbs and protein not consuming mass amounts of animal fat and protein. I gaurentee that if someone just switched to a plant based diet for a month they’d see better results than with this outline and there are plenty of meal prep ideas that are plant based. Shame on you telling people to eat bacon to loose weight ????????????????????

    1. Hi Ann - We appreciate your feedback. Although we do not recommend eating bacon every day, it can very easily fit into a weight loss diet. There are plenty of whole30 compliant versions of bacon such as this one we use: that contain no added sugars and are only 30 calories per slice.

      We fully support all types of meal plans from meat-based, to plant-based, to whole30, keto and beyond. It is important to find what works best for YOU.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us! Have a great weekend.

  19. I have been trying to work on the Mediterranean diet lifestyle and plant based meals. I'm having a difficult time pulling everything together. I think that this system might help me out.

  20. Its really great and informative article for meal preparing...
    Wait for the more interesting article from you.....

  21. Thank you for this article! i'm down to 225 pounds from 500 pounds but have been unable to get in the groove of meal prepping and this just helped me a ton!!

    1. That is incredible, Gary! Congratulations!! We are so happy we are able to help you on your journey! All the best!

  22. As a born Italian and DEVOUT follower of the Mediterranean diet, I will NEVER "meal prep." EVERY meal should be FRESH... EVERY time!!!

  23. Hello, I'm wanting to lose weight, I eat quite healthy however I either maintain my weight and soon as I go out for a meal or two for a celebration or something I can easily gain 4-5lbs in a week, which then takes me around a month to lose again. Ive just stared going to the gym where a PT has gave me a programme to follow, I was just wondering on some meal ideas for breakfast and lunches. I like most food however would like to keep the cost down as much as possible. thank you

    1. Hi Gemma - You have come to the right place! If you check out the recipe section on our website we have quite a few breakfast and lunch meal prep recipes that you can choose from! We try to keep most of the meals under $4 each. We also list the nutrition facts so you can see if the recipe would fit your macros/nutrition plan! Let us know if you have any other questions!

    1. Hi Marianne - Which food type are you referring to specifically? Some meals we recommend not reheating, so if you could let us know exactly which you are curious about we can help you out 🙂

  24. Hello! I was wondering on the proteins... Should you slightly under cook them so when you re-heat for consumption your meats are not over cooked???

    1. Hi Tim - great question! Some people, including myself (Sarah) do slightly undercook the meat. However, some also eat it cold, so you would want to fully cook it when prepping.

  25. Hello! I am struggling with finding seasonings to accompany these meals...I know for weight loss you should try to limit your salt consumption but then what are alternatives? Specifically, seasoning chicken or steak, and vegetables in general.

  26. hi im new to meal prep so would love some advice. i am doing to lose weight and so that my carer can just heat up a healthy meal my mum is doing the ooking. id like to know how i can meal prep the right things as im diabetic on incerlin. my normal meal times are 9.30am test sugars then breakfast and incerlin is given. 11am test sugars if low i have some juice or a glucose tablet or a apple with fat free yogurt. test sugars lunch and incerlin is given 4 pm test sugars if low have a low calorie cookie. test sugars dinner this is my main meal and incerlin is given. how can i do all meals and snaks for a few days and keep them fresh do you have to freeze them when you have done them.

  27. Hello! I am recently in my journey to weight loss by eating healthy. I work overnight 11pm-7am, have two children and go to school, my life is a bit hectic as you can read. I wanted to know what would be my ideal meal prep having my hectic schedule. Thank you

    1. Hi Stephanie - Unfortunately, we can not say what your "ideal" meal prep would be. You would need to figure this out based on dietary needs, food likes/dislikes, caloric intake, exercise level, medical background, etc. There is no "one size fits all" nutrition plan. Please take into consideration your macronutrient needs as well and plan your meals around that.

  28. Hi,
    My name is Stefanie and 10 years ago I had gastric bypass and although I lost a lot of weight , sadly I have gained about 45 pounds back. I still get full fast but I'm new to meal prep and would love to get back on track, is there any recipes you can help me with?

    1. Hi Stephanie! Have you already checked what your macro intake (how much fat, carbs, proetin) should be? We always recommend starting with where you are (understanding your current macro intake) then setting a goal for where you want to be. Do you know what your current macro intake is?

      If so, head over to hear and see where your macros should be:

      From there we could make better recipe recommendations. =)

  29. Finally, some real help with healthy meals! I can’t wait to get started.Where’s the best place to buy reusable containers?

  30. Love your site! I am 33 and have Type 1 diabetes. The carb count is actually what I need to watch out for, more so than the calories. Is there a specific diet plan you'd recommend? My goal is to lose some weight/fat and tone.

    Also, how would I calculate a protein shake in my daily plan?

    1. Hi Jani, we are not able to give out specific diet plans without a complete health history. We recommend speaking with your doctor. For your protein shake, you can easily input it into your nutrition planner (like My Fitness Pal) and it will log accurately based on the brand and amount you use.

  31. Is there a container that has a pull out insert for putting in the microwave? I like to have a salad with my meals and would like to pull out the protein to warm up but leave the rest cold? Or do you have a suggestion for this other than using two separate containers. Thanks, Kristi

    1. Hi Kristi, Unfortunately, we do not have a container in our line like that and do not have a recommendation. If you find one, please let us know!

  32. You made a good point that having a goal in mind will make easier to figure out which kinds of things to get from meal prep delivery services. I'd like to lessen my caffeine intake so I feel like I should be eating healthier in order to get my energy from nutritious meals instead of the sugar rush of sodas or energy drinks. Maybe having a higher carb intake along with more vegetables will do the trick.

  33. 5 stars
    This is a super duper inclusion for the newbie people who want to make excellent food . I am very happy to see this blog post. Thanks for it.

  34. I love that you added suggestions and recommended types of food to go with a meal prep structure, it will definitely make it easier to select and prepare them

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