I know the people who pose in articles with 40 organized "meal prepped" Tupperwares are usually fit people, but every time I see the same chicken, broccoli, and rice meal over and over, I choke back my gag reflex. Sure, eating boneless, skinless chicken breast, some hardly seasoned broccoli, and some lackluster variation of brown rice/quinoa is a great macro combination for any healthy diet, but when I actually start meal prepping like that, I can't go more than a couple days without longingly staring at the sandwich shop across the street from work. 

Any day of the week, I am the kind of girl who needs variety in a healthy diet, or I will succumb to the endless barrage of temptation on campus. It's just SO EASY to pick up all the treats and yummy snacks from vending machines, cafes, and fast food places that line practically every building of campus. Or worse, I start NEVER bringing my meals to school, and they get gross in the fridge. Then I'm not even saving money: I'm just being wasteful! 

So, I have tried and tried, and finally got the hang of making delicious meals in variety, in reasonable portions and in easy storage. It doesn't work out perfectly the first or second time, but now it's become part of my overly busy, trying-to-be-healthy lifestyle. Here's what I've learned: 

1. When you're first starting out, make a meal you LOVE.

Mac and Cheese

JeepersMedia on Flickr

If you're trying to get convinced to get into the money and waste line saving habit of meal prep, it definitely doesn't hurt to start meal prepping with a crave-worthy meal first. The first meal I tried, I did my mother's classic ham, mac and cheese, and peas. (I would actually eat this as my last meal, if I had the choice.) 

A comfort meal doesn't really fit into "meal prep" culture, but it does help you fine tune some of the logistics of meal prepping without having to wonder if your food is going to taste good. With the best meal prepping, you'll have to figure out stuff like:

How am I going to store this? (see #3) 

How am I going to keep it cold? 

Where is my f***ing fork?!?

Think of your fav meal, and go for it!

2. Buy meal prep containers to separate food. 

Alyssa Wolverton

Part of the appeal of those fit-gurus with hundreds of meals is that they have all these perfect little containers that their meals fit into (and sometimes a gigantic lunchbox to put them in). Talk about extra! 

After trying it out, though, I will say that those meal prep containers are handy, and make packing up lunch organized and easy. The thing they DON'T tell you about meal prep is that food sometimes comes out better when you can separate the food out and combine when eating, not when cooking or packing. 

Look for some affordable containers that come in packs that work for your space. I got these containers for myself and roommate. For my broke peeps: use separate food containers. Having an actual meal prep container is more organized, but you just need to be able to store food appropriately.

3. Freeze it! (And don't worry about messing up.)

cake, coffee, tea, beer
Smita Jain

Healthy (or not), yummy (or not), prepping tons of meals and eating them regularly takes practice. Freeze those bad boys if you get through the week and you still haven't eaten your lunches, (because who can deny free food from a the boss or a last minute lunch date)?

When you freeze those meal prep containers, you're basically making your own "Marie Callendar's" frozen meals, and you can pop them in the microwave for later. Then, you'll have more variety so you can eat last week's AND this week's meals! Winning. 

Also, if something ends up going bad in the fridge, IT'S OKAY! It happens to the best meal preppers around. Modify portions, find better recipes, and pursue filling, delicious meals that suit you better.

I'm not at the giant lunchbox, three meals a day prepped, never-buy-a vending-machine-snack level yet, but I definitely save some money and hassle when I start meal prepping, and ease my way into it when I do.