The backbone of successful and sustainable results is to have a successful and sustainable routine.

If you’re the type of person who loves to spend time cooking meals every day and that works for you, then that’s amazing (we probably want to check out your Instagram for some drool-worthy photos). However, if you’re looking to shave some time off meal prep in a way that still keeps things convenient and tasty, this post is for you! The key here is to “keep it simple, stupid,” you know, like from grade school!

So we’re getting down to the basics here to show you how to make meal prep for the week as quick and efficient as possible.

1. Plan for your week by choosing a few sources for each macronutrient.

We recommend choosing three to six options for each macronutrient. Feel free to rotate these sources weekly for variety! For your carbs, allocate half of your sources to veggies and the other half to denser sources such as fruit, oatmeal or sweet potatoes. This way you are providing yourself with options for different hunger levels, as well as including fiber and micronutrients in your diet.

The infographic below is a helpful tool for choosing foods that satisfy each macro type.

Once you’ve chosen your macros, use this WAG Grocery Planner to capture them so you can shop for just what you need!

2. Cook in bulk with simple cooking methods.

Protein can be cooked in larger batches and frozen so you can defrost throughout the week as you need! Choose simple cooking methods—you can save on cooking time by preparing your food in bulk. We tested out batch cooking across a few methods, and made a chart based on what we found worked best! As you can see, you don’t need the latest gadgets to make meal prep a breeze—though they can come in handy!

Since the goal is to ensure you’re still tracking accurately while cutting back on time, this tutorial makes tracking bulk recipes as individual servings easy.

If you need some recipe inspiration to get you started, find out more about the multifunction Instant Pot or the time-tested slow cooker!

3. Now build your plate!

You’ve already chosen your macronutrients for the week. Now it’s time to build your plate! Start by picking a protein source, carb source, a veggie source, and a fat source to build your plate.

The exact portions you choose are entirely up to you and based on your macronutrient needs, but an easy way to start is to decide how many meals you enjoy eating per day. Then you can divide your macro totals by that number so you have X balanced meals per day. 

Below is a sample visual for what a balanced plate should look like, and a few ideas for each macronutrient. The exact portions will vary by your individual nutrition needs—if you’re not sure where to start, a WAG Nutrition Coach can design a plan tailored to your lifestyle and goals.

4. Add some flavor!

To stay consistent with simple meal prep, I like to switch things up by adding some seasonings and sauce additions to my meals. Here are some ideas to get you started, but don’t forget to count the calories!

Using the same items, you can make a variety of different meals simply by switching up the seasonings. For example, if you have chicken thighs (protein and fat), rice (carbs), peppers and onions (veggies!) as a base…

  1. Add taco seasoning, cilantro, and salsa to a bed of lettuce for a filling taco salad.
  2. Add soy sauce, ginger and chili sauce for an Asian-inspired stir fry.
  3. Chop the veggies up raw, add cucumber and Greek seasoning for a refreshing Mediterranean vibe. 

At the end of the day, it’s all about how your lifestyle coincides with the amount of time you can allocate to food preparation. What’s YOUR bottom line? How simple can you make your meals while feeling good, enjoying what you’re eating and still working toward your goals? It may take some trial and error but these little tidbits sure as heck helped me when I started!

If you’re still feeling stuck, a 1:1 nutrition coach could make all the difference. When you sign up for Working Against Gravity, we’ll pair you with your own personal nutrition coach. You’ll have formal weekly check-ins with your coach, plus the ability to message them 24/7 anytime you need to chat.

Together, you’ll decide the steps to take to reach your goals and master healthy habits. You’ll also join our exclusive online community, where you’ll find additional accountability and support.