Cooking every single day can be a huge pain, but eating out every day also doesn’t seem like a great alternative. A great way to find a balance is by meal-prepping. It’s not just limited to those looking to lose weight or bulk-up. It's a great way for you to take control of your life and the food you eat so that you aren’t always relying on that sad coffee-shop sandwich you picked up for lunch. Meal-prepping can take the hassle out of having to cook every night while also saving your time and money. 

Here are some easy ways to incorporate meal-prepping into your life: 

Set aside time

Your meal-prepping doesn’t have to look like everybody else’s. If Sundays are busy days for you, find time during the week that works for you. If you usually don’t have anything going on after work on Mondays, use the evening time to meal-prep! If you're an early-bird and don’t have a yoga class scheduled for Tuesday morning, use the morning hours to prep. 

Check your schedule

It might not make sense for you to prepare all your meals for the week if you have a birthday dinner on Monday, a client meeting on Tuesday and a catered lunch on Wednesday. Look to your calendar to see exactly how many meals you're trying to prepare for yourself.

Have a reason

Everybody meal-preps for a different reason. Some people do it just to save time during the week. Others are trying to accomplish a certain fitness or health goal. Whatever your reason is, keep that in mind when you’re planning out your meals for the week. That way you make meals that fit your lifestyle — not somebody else’s.

Make a list

Once you know what meals you're making for the week, jot down a quick grocery list on your phone or notepad. Be sure to also note quantities. This way your trip to the grocery store will be a breeze. You don’t want to get home and realize you only have half of the amount of chicken you'll need.

Get inspired

Don’t just rely on your same-old recipes that you make every night. Check out Pinterest or your favorite food blogger’s website for some easy recipes that you want to try out. You can even just search what ingredients you already have and see how they can come together to make a meal! Make sure that whatever meals you find can be stored overnight or in the freezer.

Mix it up

Try and include some variety in your meals for the week. You don’t need to have five of the same meal for dinner every single night of the week. Not only does that get boring, but it also means you aren’t getting a variety of nutrients. Maybe do half your dinners with one type of meat and the other half with fish. You can even use the same ingredients and use different spices or flavorings to change up the dishes. Whatever you do, make it so the meals you’re prepping are actually foods that you would eat again and again. 

Keep it simple

It’s definitely fun to try new things, but don’t make things so complicated it becomes a real chore to meal-prep. Stick to a simple formula and it’ll be easy to prep week-to-week. This can be as simple as making one protein, one carb and one vegetable. You can make as many variations as you want on this simple formula without making things too crazy. 

Find a friend

It’s always easier to spend a lot of time in the kitchen with a friend. Nothing beats catching up while also accomplishing another task off your to-do list! This can even mean that you can divide and conquer — one person does the vegetables while the other does the meat. At the end, you can just split up what you made and take that home. Having another person around can even mean that you can save money buying in bulk and wasting less food.

Do what you can

Meal prepping doesn’t always have to mean making full meals all at once. To some, it’s more of the preparation part — washing and cutting all the vegetables, marinating your meats, dividing up the portions, etc. It can even just be cooking double your regular recipe so you’ll have lunch or dinner for the next day. Whatever meal-prepping looks like to you, at the end of the day we are all just trying to make sure we're getting what we need in terms of nutrients to fuel our busy days.