Meal Prep

20 Day Meal Prep Challenge

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.

How long do you spend in the kitchen preparing dinner each night? Are you making every recipe right then? What are you missing out by spending all that time in the kitchen? This 20 Day Meal Prep Challenge will help ease you into meal prepping!

20 Day Meal Prep Challenge for Beginners

If you’re like me, some days you barely have time to breathe, much less cook a full meal. The thing is, I like cooking. And I like knowing my family is eating healthy, homemade meals.

Learn How to Meal Prep

Some days it’s really hard! Not to mention the days when we literally don’t have time to sit down and eat together and we find ourselves eating in the car. We practically live in the car. And the reality is we eat several meals a week in the car.

Meal prepping has been a life saver for me over the last few months. I don’t know why I didn’t start doing it sooner! Meal prepping saves me time and money.

And let’s face it, after a long day, the thought of cooking something nutritious that tastes good can be exhausting. How much better would you feel if you knew all you needed to do was reheat your meal when you walk in the door?

How does meal prepping save time?

Preparing several of our meals ahead of time on a Sunday afternoon for the week means that all I need to do is reheat those meals. I’m more productive in the kitchen when I do batch cooking and prepping of the food we plan to eat during the week.

Sunday afternoons often work best for me, but you could do this which ever day of the week suits your schedule best!

By preparing our snacks and meals ahead of time, I only have to spend a few minutes reheating a meal in the microwave. If I have a freezer meal to reheat, it can be baking while I work on other tasks.

Plus, when we’re on the go, I can pop a meal in the microwave if needed and we can eat in the car. Sometimes I’ll pack ready to reheat meals and we’ll stop at a gas station to heat them up {in their microwave} when we’re ready to eat.

Tip: Keep a stash of plastic flatware in your glove box along with some napkins and you can enjoy homemade food on the go no problem!

How does meal prepping save money?

Meal prepping saves us a lot of money each month. Since we are on the go so much and often that means we are traveling in the car during meal times, having food we can quickly grab means I don’t have to pull into the drive through or stop at a restaurant. Typically, eating out costs more than eating homemade food.

My girls are very athletic and we are a pretty health conscious family. We like eating healthy food and don’t feel good when we eat high fat foods which you often find at the drive through.

According to Money Under 30, “…the average meal prepared at home costs around $4 for groceries—a $9 savings per person per meal. To put it another way, a $13 restaurant meal is about 325 percent more expensive than a $4 meal you prepare yourself.”

How can meal prepping help me lose weight?

One of my favorite benefits of meal prepping is the fact that when I prepare the meals and pack them into meal prep containers, everything is portioned out. I’m not tempted to go back for seconds. I eat what I need and there aren’t leftovers most of the time.

Also, in general, I tend to cook healthier, lighter meals for my meal preps than I do when I’m at home and have time to cook. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy eating comfort foods from time to time, but I definitely enjoy feeling healthier.

How to Use Meal Prepping for Weight Loss

Meal prepping has helped me slowly lose weight I had gained and keeps me from being tempted to eat more than I should.

  • choose healthy recipes
  • portion your food into containers
  • eat healthy snacks like fruit between meals
  • don’t eat late at night

How to Choose Good Foods for Meal Prep

  • When choosing your recipes for meal prep, you want to think about what food work well together and taste good together.
  • Think about food you can cook in bulk or that you can make ahead a freeze.
  • Choose foods that will hold up well until the day you eat them. For instance, berries will only last a couple of days when paired with oatmeal.
  • Some recipes may need partial prepping so you have less work the day you eat the recipe.
  • Foods that need to be prepped the day of can be added to recipes when you are ready to eat.

Some of my favorite recipes for meal prep:

20 Day Meal Prep Challenge for Beginners

How to Meal Prep for the Week Ahead

Meal prepping can feel overwhelming if you have never done it before. I usually like to set aside an afternoon or evening to work on my meals and snacks for the week.

Just remember, you don’t have to prep every single meal for the week! I usually prep meals for 3 or 4 days when I know we are going to be super busy.

Some weeks I prep more than others. I look at my schedule, make my menu plan, and set aside the time to make meals ahead of time. When I have extra time or can make a double batch of a favorite recipe, I’ll put food in the freezer for later.

I also love having breakfast foods ready to reheat in the freezer that we can grab and reheat before running out the door on early mornings. Plus, having breakfast foods such as overnight oatmeal or chia seed pudding already prepped and in the fridge makes eating breakfast so much easier on rushed mornings.

Also, it’s important to note that you don’t have to prep full meals. You could just prep by washing fruit and portioning it out, chopping vegetables for recipes you plan to cook, or by baking a batch of muffins to go with eggs you cook in the morning for breakfast.

That’s what’s so great about meal prepping. You can do what makes the most sense for you and your lifestyle.

  1. Make a meal plan for the week and make note of which meals you want to prep ahead.
  2. Make your grocery list. You need to do your shopping before your meal prep session.
  3. Prep your meals and snacks.

Tips to Make Meal Prepping Easier

  • you don’t have to prep every single meal for the week
  • choose which meals make the most sense for you to meal prep
  • you don’t have to prep full meals, you can just wash, chop, and prepare fruits and vegetables

20 Day Meal Prep Challenge

If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the work involved in taking care of your next meal, this challenge will change your thinking!

In this meal prep challenge you will figure out how to get more done in less time, and by the end of the challenge, you’ll also have a few freezer meals on hand ready to go when you need them! We’ll be stretching out the different components of meal prepping to give you an idea of what you can do.

Once you’ve completed this challenge you’ll be ready to pick a day and prep for the whole week!

Day 1 – Make a Meal Plan

Start by making a meal plan for the coming week. What are you going to make this week and what ingredients do you need to buy? What ingredients do you have on hand that need to be used up? Are there any ingredients in your meal prep recipes that you’ll use across multiple dishes? Make a note if so.

Day 2 – Make a List

Make a grocery list and head to the store! Buy everything you need to make your meals for the week. It’s important that you do your grocery shopping before your meal prep day so let’s get into that habit now. 

Day 3 – Small, but Helpful Meal Prep

It’s time to do some small prepping that will go a long way in the kitchen! Today’s task is to simply brown or cook all of your meats that need to be prepared. Put them in Ziploc bags and label them.

Prep any of the produce that needs to be cut or chopped. Do you need to chop any fresh herbs for your meals? If so, go ahead and chop or prepare the herbs. Put everything in zip top bags based or in containers and toss them into the fridge.

Day 4 – Purchase Quality Meal Prep Containers

Invest in some quality food storage containers. You’ll need them to store meals and other items to keep them fresh and ready to go in the coming weeks.

My favorite containers:

Day 5 – Use Up Leftovers

By now you are probably starting to accumulate a few leftover ingredients or recipes. Bring them all out and see what you can use to throw together a new meal. Using up leftovers is a great way to get a night off from cooking, save money, and save time!

Day 6 – Clean Out the Freezer

Remove everything from your freezer and do a deep clean. We are going to be focusing on filling up our freezer next week, so you want it to be clean and empty if possible. Make a note of foods in your freeze that need to be used up.

Day 7 – Make a Meal Plan and Incorporate Foods in Freezer

Try to incorporate items in your freezer into your meal plan this week. Remember you want to clear out some of the items in your freezer by the end of the week. It’s so easy to forget about food living in the freezer, so it’s important to stay on top of what’s in there! 

Day 8 – Make a List

Make a grocery list and head to the store! Buy everything you need to make your meals for the week. It’s important that you do your grocery shopping before your meal prep day so let’s get into that habit now. 

Day 9 – Small, but Helpful Meal Prep

It’s time to do some small prepping that will go a long way in the kitchen! Today’s task is to simply brown or cook all of your meats that need to be prepared. Put them in Ziploc bags and label them.

Prep any of the produce that needs to be cut or chopped. Do you need to chop any fresh herbs for your meals? If so, go ahead and chop or prepare the herbs. Put everything in zip top bags based or in containers and toss them into the fridge.

Day 10 – Foods You Can Freeze

It’s time for a quick crash course on what you can and can’t freeze. Keep this list handy and make notes of any items you cook regularly that might or might not freeze well.

[section content_width=”md” height=”xs” inner=”light” title=”Free Printable | Foods You Can Freeze” bg=”ffffff”]

Download the Free Printable Foods You Can Freeze List @ ShortOnTimeAndMoney.com

Download: Foods You Can Freeze Cheatsheet

[/section]

Day 11 – Make a Breakfast Recipe for Later

Choose a simple recipe for breakfast that use staples you already have in your pantry to make for another day this week.

Some simple recipes:

  1. Strawberry Oatmeal Jam Bars
  2. Slow Cooker Breakfast Frittata 
  3. Berries, Nuts, and Coconut Shreds
  4. Blueberry Breakfast Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  5. Overnight Peanut Butter Oatmeal 

Day 12- Make Sandwiches for Later in the Week

Choose a simple sandwich that you have the ingredients for in your pantry. Make up sandwiches for each person in your household.

Here are a few ideas:

  • peanut butter and jelly {these can be frozen}
  • egg salad sandwiches
  • deli meat and cheese sandwiches

Day 13 – Use Up Leftovers

By now you are probably starting to accumulate a few leftover ingredients or recipes. Bring them all out and see what you can use to throw together a new meal. Using up leftovers is a great way to get a night off from cooking, save money, and save time!

Day 14 – Make a Meal Plan and Plan to Double Batch Your Meals

When you plan your meals for the coming week, plan to make double of some of the dinner recipes on your meal plan.

For the next week, make a double batch of three of the dinner meals you prepare. Eat one of them now, and put the other in the freezer for later. 

Day 15 – Make a List

Make a grocery list and head to the store! Buy everything you need to make your meals for the week. Remember to purchase double the ingredients for some of your recipes!

Day 16 – Small, but Helpful Meal Prep + Meal Prep a Full Meal for Tomorrow

Today, prepare as much of tomorrow’s recipes as you can today. Portion out the servings into your new meal prep containers. The goal is that you only need to heat it when it’s time for dinner. Brown or cook all of your meats that need to be prepared. Put them in Ziploc bags and label them.

Prep any of the produce that needs to be cut or chopped. Do you need to chop any fresh herbs for your meals? If so, go ahead and chop or prepare the herbs. Put everything in zip top bags based or in containers and toss them into the fridge.

Day 17 – Double Batch Cook Dinner

Double batch your dinner recipe to fill your freezer! Wrap or store in the appropriate container. 

Day 18 – Double Batch Cook Dinner

Double batch your dinner recipe to fill your freezer! Wrap or store in the appropriate container. 

Day 19 – Double Batch Cook Dinner

Double batch your dinner recipe to fill your freezer! Wrap or store in the appropriate container. 

Day 20 – Use One of Your Freezer Meals

Instead of cooking tonight, use one of your freezer meals and enjoy a job well done. Take out the meal early in the day and store in the fridge to thaw. Reheat according to recipes instructions. 


Now that you’ve completed this simple 20 day meal prep challenge, you’ll be ready to focus on meal prep this coming week with ease.

Meal Prep Day

Like I said before, I usually do my meal prep on Sunday, but sometimes I do my meal prep on Tuesdays. It really depends on our schedule. Decide which day of the week works best for you and remember to make your meal plan, make a list, and do your grocery shopping before your meal prep day.

Alternatively, you could do your grocery shopping in the morning and meal prep in the afternoon or evening on the same day. Just do what works for you!

Set aside one or two hours and prep for the week ahead. If you have time to do this over a couple days, that would be great too!

The goal of meal prepping is really to simplify your life, save you time, and save you money. Think about how your family eats, try new recipes, and figure out how to make it work for you.

Remember: You don’t have to batch cook everything in order to make dinner time easier for your family. Just having a few things prepared in advance can make a huge difference!

Free Printable Checklist

20 Day Meal Prep Challenge | Free Printable Checklist @ ShortOnTimeAndMoney.com

How to Download

Just fill out the form below and you’ll receive instant access to my free printable 20 Day Meal Prep Challenge Checklist right to your inbox!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *