Prep can make meal planning a piece of cake

By Carol Marak - Aging Matters

When we make time to put energy into doing the good stuff, we become more productive and feel better, especially in the area of nutrition and healthy eating. It can be hard to stay on track with our health and eating good nutritious foods every day. But it helps when you put the time in to the prepping process. It’s the secret code to making meals in advance, saving time and money, and maintaining a healthy diet. Here are a few tips.

Track It

Nutritious food can be tasty. Planning meals in advance helps you be more intentional about the nutrients. Pay attention to what works with your fitness and diet. There are apps that help you get the most out of eating.

Meal Prep Starter Kit

Check out food blogs like MyFitnessPal and Delish, and scan Pinterest for recipes. Make a list of needed grocery items.

Schedule 2 to 3 hours to cook each week. Some prefer Sundays but pick your favorite day or evening.

When starting, pick a meal to prepare. If you’re getting takeout for lunch, add in the other meals you want and get into a routine.

Consider foods that use leftovers for the nights later in the week. A frittata makes a great meal for leftover vegetables when you’re trying to use up odds and ends in the fridge.

A soup can be lunch and/or dinner served with a side salad, bean dip can fill a wrap, be smeared on an English Muffin, or be scooped up by fresh veggies.

Do a mental checklist when you grocery shop and aim to have the following in your grocery cart: protein sources, a variety of fruit, leafy greens, pre-cut veggies, quick-cook whole grain and cheese.

A weekly menu helps organize your shopping which can save money and time at the store and reduce food waste at the end of the week.

Invest in glass food storage containers. They keep food fresher.

Use resealable plastic bags to freeze the meals and reheat up later.

Good Recipe Ideas


Overnight oats – soak rolled oats overnight in your choice of milk, add berries, nut butter, honey.

Egg Cups – Using a muffin tin — bake eggs with added ingredients like meat, veggies.


Sesame Chicken Fry – Combine all the veggies and protein in one skillet, serve over rice on quinoa.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad – Layer ingredient in a mason jar, to keep greens fresh put the salad dressing at the bottom.


Pulled Pork – prepare in slow cooker with seasoning and sauce for a few hours. Eat solo or add a sandwich bun.

Sweet Potato – Combine and use as a base in slow cooker, add veggies and beans for a nutritious vegetarian option.

By Carol Marak

Aging Matters

Carol Marak is an aging advocate and editor at She holds a Certificate in Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

Carol Marak is an aging advocate and editor at She holds a Certificate in Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.