Common Problems with Meal Prep + Grocery Shopping

Sticking to a small grocery budget AND trying to cook healthy delicious recipes can be really difficult. So how do you manage a meal prep shopping list and what should go on that list? Before we get to answering those questions, let’s think about a Top 10 of #mealprepproblems you might encounter when starting out & creating your first meal prep shopping list.

  1. Meal prep can be expensive (if NOT done correctly)

  2. Not all ingredients stay fresh for long

  3. Some ingredients & recipes might not freeze well

  4. Your fave recipe app might generate 100's of ingredients

  5. Your partner might pick-up ingredients on the way home

  6. You might not cook all ingredients / recipes = food going to waste

  7. Meal plans usually contain fixed recipes so YOU need to scale ingredients to needs

  8. You may need to consider allergens (or avoiding intolerances)

  9. Shopping lists are easy to forget before visits to the store

  10. Keeping naughty 'nibbles' out of your shopping cart

How to Manage Your Shopping List

Now that we have identified the common pitfalls, let’s look at shopping solutions. One of the simplest tactics that we have seen used when meal prep’ing, is to set yourself a schedule of grocery shopping once or twice a week. You should be aiming to only buy fresh produce for what you need to make your meals for those coming few days. Set-up a pantry process for dry & frozen goods that can be bought in bulk and will keep for longer (we have suggested a possible pantry list for you below). Having a set planned schedule will prevent you and your partner from buying the same ingredients, will protect you from shopping when you are HANGRY after work (hungry & angry) and importantly reduce the amount of naughty treats you pick-up on your way around the store.

There are a variety of apps that can make grocery shopping painless, even services that will deliver your entire list or plan to your door for you. Find one that allows you to view and check-off items on all your favorite devices (iPad, iPhone, Watch), so you never need to remember bringing your meal prep shopping list to the store. There are plenty that save you from having to calorie-count to the nth degree. Be on the lookout for plans that have affordable common ingredients across a variety of recipes.

It’s often worthwhile to take stock of how much the grocery bills are in your household and finding ways to adjust variety vs cost to your needs at any given time. In the summer months, consider some rarer recipes or perhaps eating-out on a few more occasions. If penny-pinching, opt for more basic meals, with fewer ingredients. The important thing is to find something that works for you, time and time again. Find tools & resources to take the thinking away from the entire meal prep shopping process and establish a routine that is fun, sustainable and full of healthy flavorful ingredients, week-in week-out! That is what will see you succeed with your meal prep.

Using MealPrepPro

MealPrepPro is designed to address many of the common problems we highlighted earlier. The app offers many hundreds of delicious meal prep recipes to choose from, ready to be customized to your macros. What you may not know is that recipes have had their ingredients standardized and condensed wherever possible. This is important so that you are not buying exotic and rare ingredients (like ‘lebanese cucumber’ for example). When the reality is you could get by just fine with some regular veggies.

The app can generate a meal prep shopping list in just a few taps, using 2 different ways for separate contexts. Some of you may only be familiar with one method, but both have their merits.

Method 1 – Multiple Meals

  1. Clear existing shopping list (all or checked items)

  2. Tap 'Create new shopping list'

  3. Select the days wish to shop for

  4. Tap 'Done' & breathe a sigh of relief! 🙌

Method 2 – Individual Meals

  1. Clear existing shopping list (all or checked items)

  2. Tap into the recipe you want to prep

  3. Review the ingredients list (+ allergen info)

  4. Tap 'Add 10 ingredients to shopping'

  5. Review shopping list + hit the shops! 🛒

By tapping the big red ‘CREATE MY SHOPPING LIST NOW’ button, I can choose which days I wish to do my shopping for. I tap ‘Done’ & voila – all items for those days are organized by aisle & recipe. All in one consolidated manageable list for me. 😍

By going into a recipe itself, I may also add-it to shopping list. If cooking as a one-off for the family, I can temporarily change the number of people or days to suit my needs. Tap ‘add to shopping’ and now I have one manageable meal in the shopping list for this week! ✅

Meal Prep Pantry List

Buying ingredients in batches and in bulk can often be more cost-effective. Here are a few ideas of items that you might want to have permanently stocked in your pantry or freezer, since they can keep for longer:

  1. Uncooked rice, quinoa & pastas

  2. Protein powder

  3. Frozen fruits & veg (berries, peas, carrots, broccoli)

  4. Canned items (tomatoes, tuna, chickpeas, corn & kidney beans)

  5. Rolled oats, nuts & nut butters

  6. Dried herbs & spices (cumin, cinnamon, onion & garlic powders)

  7. Oils (olive oil, coconut oil, low sodium soy sauce)

  8. Easy-to-forget items (sea salt, peppercorns, arrowroot starch, cornstarch, panko)

Meal Prep Equipment List

In addition to staying stocked-up, you may consider securing some additional equipment over time. This will make levelling-up your meal prep game that bit faster:

  1. Meal prep containers (BPA free)

  2. Spray bottle (for olive or coconut oil & reducing calories)

  3. Measuring cups & spoons

  4. Digital cooking scales

  5. Non-stick skillet & pan(s)

  6. Blender or food processor

  7. Quality knife or knife sharpener

As you will be preparing meals in larger quantities, you may need to make sure you have the proper kitchen gear, particularly any bigger pots and skillets. Look for a good non-stick skillet. Otherwise you will continue to use a whole bunch of oil to prevent your food from sticking to the pan. Not healthy at all! In addition, a cheap spray bottle that can be refilled will save you splurging on oil. A good quality chefs knife makes a huge difference but you likely won’t need it if you have a set already. Make sure to sharpen it from time to time with a sharpening tool. You want to be able to carefully and quickly slice through the food (not mash it up like a blender).

Lastly, to develop your ‘kitchen IQ’, you might want to invest in some digital scales and measuring spoons. That way, you can accurately measure things out and stick to your calorie goal. When we all start-out meal-prep’ing we didn’t rush and buy everything at once. So don’t worry about adding to your collection over time.

Regardless of what pops-up on your grocery shopping list this week, remember that healthy & sustainable meal prep WILL save you money in the long-run. Furthermore, whether you are an avid user of the MealPrepPro app or not, find ways to simplify the creation and management of that grocery list over time.

Embrace the process, then both your wallet & body will too!