Our Editors’ Favorite Meal Prep Tips

updated May 29, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

There’s no right or wrong approach to meal prepping. Instead, it’s all about finding the one that works best for your needs — which sounds simple, but can involve a lot of trial and error. That’s where our editors come in.

We’re a practiced bunch of meal preppers who tackle it from different angles — meal prepping for one, prepping for ourselves plus a partner or roommates, and meal prepping for a family with tiny eaters. These are our favorite meal prep tips.

1. Divvy up meal prep into several smaller sessions.

“I’m actually a really reluctant meal prepper — it’s super hard for me to find a two-hour block of time on the weekend to cook and clean. So I spread my meal prep out over the weekend and into the week as needed. I chop a few vegetables after the market on Saturday, and cook extra grains or a pot of rice on Sunday when I’m cooking dinner.” — Meghan Splawn, Associate Food Editor

2. Take inventory before you prep.

“Clean the fridge and take a pantry inventory before you go to the store. The half-used bag of farro and any veggie stragglers from the previous week can serve as inspiration for what you want to cook. It also means you won’t end up buying something you already have, and you’ll have free shelf space in the fridge to store all your newly packed Tupperware.” — Grace Elkus, Senior Food Editor

3. When meal prepping for one, go for sheet pan recipes.

“Do not discount meal prep if you’re cooking for one! In fact, a single sheet pan is all you need — it’s how I cook a protein (usually chicken thighs) and a bunch of roasted veggies all at once, and it leaves me with several dinners and lunches for the week.” — Lauren Masur, Staff Writer

4. Prep ingredients rather than full meals for maximum flexibility.

“Leave room for some flexibility. I tend to meal prep ingredients and components that can be used as bases instead of specific meals. That way I am not completely tied down when my mood or taste changes mid-week (which it so often does!).” —Sheela Fiorenzo, Assistant Food Editor

5. If you do just one thing, make a sauce.

My favorite advice? If you do just one thing during your meal prep session, make a simple batch of sauce for the week ahead. The best options are super-versatile sauces — like green tahini, yogurt sauce, pesto, and even hummus — that can double as salad dressing and a dip for afternoon snacking.