Meal prep involves carving out an hour or so in the kitchen each week to chop, cook down, roast, steam, pureé, pickle or whip up ingredients and store for use later. For example, by roasting a chicken you can enjoy the cozy goodness the first night, make chicken salad for lunch the next few days and have chicken stock for a Sunday night stew. Meal planning doesn’t mean a big, tabbed binder full of months of upcoming meals. It’s also not just for families of four. In fact, it’s incredibly helpful for households of just one.

Once you get into a groove, meal planning and prep works wonders on your weekly schedule in a myriad of ways. In addition to guaranteeing you have fresh, healthy ingredients on hand for breakfast, lunch and dinner all week, it also helps keep you on budget because you won’t have as many impromptu nights out since you’ve already got something delicious waiting at home. You’ll have less food waste, ensuring the groceries you buy are being used, and used well. And, with a few easy-to-follow guidelines, taking time to meal prep also means you have the opportunity to get creative with different types of ingredients and foods.

So, what are you waiting for? Here are our time-tested suggestions for meal planning and prep.

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