Meal Prep Like a Pro: Our Step-by-Step Guide to Healthy Eating

March 01, 2024

How to Eat Healthy on the Go

Scenario 1: It’s 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night. You just picked your kid up from dance lessons and are heading to get your other child from soccer practice. It’s late. You’re tired. You worked all day and haven’t been home since you picked your kids up at school.  

We all know the first question they’re going to ask: “What’s for dinner?” And you think to yourself, ‘well, there’s a drive-thru on our way home. Maybe we’ll just get that.’ 

Scenario 2: Your Thursday meeting ran late and you missed your 5:30 p.m. train out of North Station. It’s at least an hour before the next one. You begin to wish you drove to work that day, but it doesn’t matter since 128 is a parking lot. It’s late. You’re tired. And you think to yourself, ‘well, there’s a drive-thru on our way home. Maybe I’ll just get that.’ 

Now imagine a future scenario – you have dinner waiting for you at home. It’s healthy, nutritious and most importantly – something you’ll enjoy eating!  

So how do you do it? And how do you make it sustainable? 

Step 1: Create a menu 

Develop a menu for your family of meals that you all like – or that fit best into your schedule – and keep it on file for future use.  

Step 2: Start small 

If you’ve never meal prepped before, planning an entire week’s worth of meals can be overwhelming. Start small; instead of planning meals for the whole week, try doing the next day or two (or start with leftovers). 

Step 3: Plan your meals in advance 

Once you're ready to expand your meal prepping – try to pick a day (let’s say Sunday) and make a calendar of your meals for the week. Do what works for your schedule – maybe dinner is the stressor, so just focus on prepping for that meal.  

Step 4: Go grocery shopping 

Have a plan when you go to the store. With your recipes in hand, make sure you get the ingredients needed for your meals when you go to the store and then you can start cooking your food. 

Step 5: Cook the food 

Pick a day that tends to be slow. Put a couple hours aside and start cooking.  

Step 6: Store the food 

Maybe it’s a crock pot that you cooked something in, or maybe you have individual containers for each lunch meal of the week. Do what works best for you and your family and store the food in your refrigerator to eat in the next few days or your freezer to keep the food longer. 

Step 7: Deal with snacking 

Casual snacking can derail your health goals, so it’s important to choose healthy options that are high in protein, fiber and healthy fats. Some great, healthy snack options include: 

  • Protein bars 
  • Carrots with hummus 
  • Yogurt cup with nuts 
  • Apple slices with cinnamon 

Keys to success 

  • Meal prepping shouldn’t be a solo activity. Set a designated time to prep where the whole family can make meal-prepping a fun weekly activity.  
  • Add smoothies to the mix: Smoothies can be an excellent snack or meal option. They only take a few minutes to prepare, they’re packed with nutrients, and as long as you have a blender and some ingredients handy, you can make them anywhere. 
  • Choose healthier options at restaurants: Sometimes we find ourselves in a pinch and need to stop at a restaurant. The good news is most restaurants – even fast food joints – have healthy options. Opt for the salad or the grain bowl and avoid extras (like bacon or creamy dressings) or get the grilled chicken sandwich instead of the fried version and maybe skip the fries and soda. 

If you follow this guide, you’ll be meal prepping like a pro in no time. But most importantly, no one’s perfect. Don’t beat yourself up if you treat yourself once in a while. Just look ahead to your next meal and make sure to eat something healthy then. You will benefit more by staying focused on your long-term goals than trying to maintain an overly strict diet.


Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to our monthly Healthy Communities newsletter and get the latest health and wellness information delivered right to your inbox.

By providing your email address, you agree to receive emails from Beth Israel Lahey Health. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Subscribe to Healthy Communities

Terms & Conditions*