Once you’ve decided on your goals, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. Or rather, it’s time to make sure that what you put in your mouth is the best fuel for your body. “The very best way to do that can be summed up in two small words,” says Amanda Carlson-Phillips, VP of nutrition and research at EXOS. Those words: Meal Prep.

It seems obvious, but it bears repeating: Buying and preparing the right stuff ahead of time ensures that you don’t find yourself hungry and considering a lunch of conference room donuts (you’ve got a meal in the ‘fridge waiting for you!), and that when you get home from work you already know what you’re going to make for dinner, so dialing in for pizza isn’t an option.

And if you think you’re going to need to block off your entire Sunday afternoon for shopping and chopping, think again. You can quickly assemble these muscle-building, energy-boosting meals at home in minutes, says Carlson-Phillips.

Read ahead for an example of a plan that takes you from Sunday dinner through Friday lunch – there’s even an itemized grocery list! – that you can follow to get started. Make tweaks as you go forward depending on your schedule and your food tastes. “The best part: We priced it all out on a budget,” says Carlson-Phillips, “so you can easily get a week’s worth of lunches and dinners for just $50.”

Step 1: Go shopping

Whether you shop on Saturday or Sunday is up to you, but before you head to the store, print out this shopping list bring it with you.


  • 1 1/2 lbs flank steak
  • 6 oz chicken
  • 6 oz of fish
  • 6 oz lean deli meat


  • Corn tortillas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • 100% Whole Wheat or Flour Tortillas


  • 1 baby carrots
  • 1 red and 1 green bell peppers
  • 1 bag of greens (spinach, romaine or kale)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tomato (Roma or grape)
  • 1 red onion and 1 sweet onion
  • 1 green onion (scallion)
  • 1 bunch garlic
  • 1 red cabbage
  • Cilantro and parsley
  • 1 lemon and 1 lime
  • 1 apple
  • 1 pear
  • 2 containers of berries
  • 1 mango
  • 1 orange, 1 tangerine, 1grapefruit

The Grocery Staples

  • Natural peanut butter
  • Reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • Dijon mustard
  • Low-sodium soy sauce
  • Salsa
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Honey
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Dried spices–garlic, thyme, rosemary, basil, lemon, salt and pepper
  • Chicken stock
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Marinara sauce
  • Pickles
  • Canned black beans
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Hummus
  • Low-fat dressing
  • Blackened seasoning

Step 2: Prep your food for the week? Got everything unloaded? Great. Now you’re ready to prep. Go by food group.


Flank Steak: Coat the steak with 1 tbsp of olive oil, add salt and pepper and 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce. Grill to your desired level of doneness.

Chicken: Sprinkle salt and pepper on chicken, then coat with 3 tbsp of honey mustard dressing. Grill or cook in a pan until it’s cooked all the way through.

Fish: Sprinkle 3 oz of fish with blackened seasoning. For salmon: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1/2 tbsp of avocado oil or olive oil and butter and a 1/4 cup of lemon juice in a saucepan. Drizzle the mixture over the fish, sprinkle with dill weed and bake for 15 minutes. For a white fish: preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine a 1/2 tbsp of lime juice, 1/8 tsp of onion powder and 1/8 tsp of black pepper in a bowl and drizzle over the fish. Top fish with olive oil, bake for 20 minutes and sprinkle with parsley.


Wash, cut and store green and red peppers, onions and red cabbage.

Sauté four peppers and half an onion in 1 tbsp of olive oil.


  • Rice: Cook rice according to package directions.
  • Pasta: Cook pasta (try whole wheat or gluten free) according to package directions.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch squares, coat them with olive oil, salt, pepper, dried oregano and basil and bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.

Step 3: Use the recipes to turn the prepped ingredients into quick, tasty meals. Here’s your map for the week, with recipes included!

Sunday Dinner: Tilapia with brown rice & spinach salad

Monday Lunch: Lean deli meat wrap, carrots, hummus & fruit

Dinner: Grilled flank steak with potato squares & salad

Tuesday Lunch: Chicken salad

Dinner: Fish tacos

Wednesday Lunch: Flank steak wrap & berries

Dinner: Chicken marinara pasta & salad

Thursday Lunch: Leftover pasta

Dinner: Low-fat chicken Caesar salad

Friday Lunch: Flatbread chicken sandwich & fruit

Read next: How to Set and Achieve a Fitness Goal