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Tasty's 7-Day Meal Plan Will Help Make Your Week So Much Easier

A totally doable, week-long guide that'll teach you how to prep smart, save more, and stress less.

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By now, you've heard of meal prepping.

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And for good reason! Planning and prepping your meals (or at least parts of them) in advance can help make cooking during the week way easier.

But if you've never actually meal prepped before, it can seem intimidating. How do you get started? What should you be meal prepping? Is it expensive?

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To help, we've designed a week-long plan — of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks — all based on one grocery list, and one (totally doable) prep routine. The recipes are not only 100% delicious, but easy and affordable as well.

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A few things to know before starting:

This is not a diet or weight-loss program: This plan is focused on helping you make your week easier. You'll learn how to meal prep and maybe even save a few dollars on your grocery list. That said, these recipes are made with whole foods, minimally processed ingredients, and a balance between protein, fat, and carbs.

You'll utilize every last bit of food: If a recipe calls for half an onion, save the other half for later. We made sure to prevent food waste and stretch dollars.

The plan is scaled for one person: But it can also work for two. Just download the doubled grocery list and the recipes scaled for two.

You'll need a few kitchen basics: No overly fancy equipment — just things like pots, pans, access to an oven and fridge, and airtight storage containers for prepped food. If it's helpful, here's all the equipment we used.

Most meals come together quickly: Thanks to a meal prep routine that kicks off the week, most dishes come together in just a few minutes. Dinners require a little more effort, but none of them should take you more than 30 minutes.

You can always eat differently if you want to: Where possible, we've included recommendations for vegetarian and vegan substitutions — and we encourage you to customize the recipes to your needs. Everyone is different, and some may require more or less calories than this plan includes. Still hungry after eating a meal? Feel free to snack or increase your portions. This week is about teaching you how to cook and prep smarter, and you can add or remove components as you see fit.

The plan is built with convenience and affordability in mind — and we focused on using ingredients that are cheap and accessible.

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That means cutting back on things that can drive up grocery bills (like fancy cuts of meat), and instead loading up on affordable, versatile staples (like eggs or grains.) It also means utilizing leftovers to bring cost-per-meal down.

Our grocery bill averaged around $50, but we also shopped in NYC without any coupons. (Meaning: You could definitely do this for cheaper.) Find more expert tips on how to keep your grocery bill low here.

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Here's the printable grocery list for the week:

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We're assuming you have a few staple items in your pantry already: like salt, spices, olive oil, and some other dry goods. If you're missing any of them, just add them to your list. (Download a PDF version here.)

The day before the plan starts, you'll tackle a meal prep routine. This is the day that'll take you the most time, but it'll set you up for a much easier week ahead.

Taylor Miller/BuzzFeed

You can find complete step-by-step instructions for prepping here. It may seem like a lot, but don't worry — it's actually pretty straight-forward once you get going.

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After that, it's smooth sailing utilizing all the food you cooked. Here's a look at what's to come:

DAY ONE:

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THE MENU: Veggie egg cups, a zesty chicken burrito bowl, hearty black bean soup, and crispy spiced chickpeas.

Get complete recipes and step-by-step instructions for day one here.

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DAY TWO:

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THE MENU: Apple cinnamon overnight oats, a roasted veggie and spinach salad, 10-minute fried rice, and peanut butter cookies.

Get complete recipes and step-by-step instructions for day two here.

DAY THREE:

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THE MENU: A green smoothie, vegetarian black bean and sweet potato tacos, a one-pot spinach pasta, and carrot sticks with homemade hummus.

Get complete recipes and step-by-step instructions for day three here.

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DAY FOUR:

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THE MENU: Grab 'n' go egg cups, a vegetarian gyro sandwich, a hearty grain salad with roasted chickpeas, and apples with peanut butter-yogurt dip.

Get complete recipes and step-by-step instructions for day four here.

DAY FIVE:

Jenny Chang/BuzzFeed

THE MENU: Scrambled egg breakfast tacos, a cilantro-lime chicken and rice bowl, some leftover black bean soup, and crispy spiced chickpeas.

Get complete recipes and step-by-step instructions for day five here.

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DAY SIX:

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THE MENU: A hummus and fried egg flatbread, a roasted veggie and spinach salad, a loaded sweet potato, and peanut butter cookies.

Get complete recipes and step-by-step instructions for day six here.

DAY SEVEN:

Jenny Chang/BuzzFeed

THE MENU: A honey Greek yogurt parfait, vegetarian black bean and sweet potato tacos, the leftover chicken pasta, and peanut butter and banana flatbread.

Get complete recipes and step-by-step instructions for day seven here.

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Print or save this calendar to hang up on your fridge during the week:

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Before designing the plan, we also talked to an expert to get some pointers on where to begin.

Marie Molde/Datassential, Taylor Miller/BuzzFeed

Marie Molde, a registered dietitian for Datassential, helped guide us in the right direction.

"My best tip for eating at home is to cook simple meals," says Molde. "It all becomes very approachable and effortless when you prepare ahead of time, so when hunger strikes, you only need to assemble and eat."

She says that although meal prep might seem like a lot of work initially, it’s worth the effort — and it doesn't have to be that complicated. "Cooking is more fun when you’re not facing mile-long ingredient lists," said Molde. "Instead, you realize what culinary magic can be made with only a few staples."

Molde also gave us 12 practical tips for saving money at the supermarket, which helped us create the plan's grocery list with budget in mind. Find all of her money-saving tips here.

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Last but not least? We asked a few of our friends to try out the meal plan to make sure it's not only easy — but delicious, too.

BuzzFeed, Michelle No/BuzzFeed

They test-drove the plan and put together a whole list of things they learned during the week, as well as things they wished they knew before going into it. Read their full experiences here.

OK — you totally got this. Let's get started! You can find complete instructions for the prep day here.

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Have questions about the plan? Want to connect with others who are trying it out too? Join Tasty's Make-Ahead Meal Plan Facebook community.

Recipes by Jesse Szewczyk; photos by Taylor Miller; design by Jenny Chang; videos produced by Pierce Abernathy; edited by Melissa Harrison.

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