It’s officially been an entire year since I’ve been bento box meal prepping!
I used to prep every night, hence all photos of the single lunch boxes – this eventually grew to 5 boxes for the week. As I got more serious into meal prepping, macro counting, and IIFYM in 2016, it became more important that my containers were the same size and weight so that I could save time (no need to tare between different sized containers). It took me almost a whole year (end of March 2016) to make the move to complete my set of BentGo boxes because they’re not that cheap, but I eventually completed the set.
It takes me about 3-4 hours on Sunday nights for the actual prep depending on what I’ve decided to eat for the week. The majority of my time is spent weighing out the ingredients and recording them down so I can input all of it into MFP afterwards. I work full time and prep on the weekends to clear up time during the week for other things. In a given week, my process works as follows:
Plan what I want to eat for the week, write down each ingredient on paper – this is for groceries as well as giving me the ability to quickly write down the weights for each ingredient. Check fridge/pantry for all ingredients. If required, bake protein squares/any other bakery goods in order to clear up the oven for Sunday and reduce the heat in the kitchen when I do my big prep.
- Morning: Final pantry check, Costco haul, followed by grocery haul
- 4PM: Start meal prep
- 5:30PM: Start cooking dinner
- 6PM: Eat dinner/wait for rest of items to cook
- 7PM: Finish up meal prep, pack it up, put it all in the fridge, take various photos for the Instagram/blog likes and comments
- 8PM: Wash copious amounts of dishes and spoons
- 9-10PM: Input everything meticulously into MFP
- Place next day’s meal into lunch bag, pack snacks
- Eat it
If you’re just looking to get started on meal prep, just go for it. It looks daunting, but it’s not! I’m specifically talking to all you people on Facebook who write lovely comments praising my organizational and prepping skills. I am STILL not good at this. My process took over a year to create and work on my process to fit my own schedule. Start with simple meals, just an extra one or two a week, and eventually you can move to all 5 when you get more comfortable with your cooking and prepping skills. Alternatively, jump in and just GO FOR IT. There are lots of resources to pull help from! My personal favourites:
- The lunch boxes are from BentGo, the jars are 500ml wide mouth mason jars.
- No, the food doesn’t go bad by the end of the week. I keep everything stored in the fridge during the week.
- BUT SALAD GETS SOGGY!! Store the wet parts (sauce, toppings, etc.) separately from the dry (the wrap, the greens), and mix them day of before you’re about to eat it
- I only prep breakfast and lunch – I like making dinner fresh.
- I started meal prepping vegetarian in 2016 (hence all the beans, tofu, tempeh, etc.).
- I save time cooking, packing lunch, and inputting into MFP every day.
- I usually have 2 snacks during a workday. They range from protein balls, homemade protein squares, peanut butter cheerios, and black bean brownies (all recipes on my blog!).
Since I’m going to be on a break from working for the summer (starting grad school in September!), I’ll most likely not be prepping full weeks as I can cook and eat fresh at home, but I’ll definitely still do at least some sort of meal prep (probably big batches of Sofritas, lasagna, things like that) because of several reasons: I enjoy the process, I don’t have to look at MFP every day, and it saves a lot of time. I haven’t posted all the food recipes on my blog yet, but I’m been working on it – it’s hard to do when everything’s a mess and you need to take photos.
I post my weekly meal prep photos (along with fitness-related photos) on my Instagram @winsofit. More details about the food and recipes I use/make up are on this blog!