It's easy to make the decision to eat more healthily. The hard part is actually doing it.

Some common stumbling blocks are deciding what to eat and doing the daily preparations, cooking and dishes.

Try these meal-prep tips that will set you up for success. 

What meal-prep style suits you?
Before you plan any healthy-eating strategy, it's important to ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you want your meals completely made and ready to pull out of the freezer?
  • Do you prefer cooking all fresh ingredients?
  • Do you want something in-between?

No matter your answer, the key to any plan is getting into the routine of having a day when you prepare and package your meals, or at least the majority of ingredients.

Let's look at some strategies for these three options.

1. Frozen food is your friend

Freezing meals is one of the best ways to cut back on daily prep and give yourself a variety of food to eat.

On your meal-prep day, open the club pack of chicken breasts, steak or fish you've bought and cut it all up to your portion size. Season it and then wrap the individual portions in reusable silicone bags or containers and freeze it.

You can also make a batch of chili, curry chicken, stuffed peppers, meatballs or stews and package them in individual portions. Take the portions you need out of the freezer in the morning, thaw in the fridge and toss them in the oven or on the barbecue when you get home. You can also put frozen portions into the slow cooker before you head out the door.

Eliminate the dishes
Instead of cooking frozen meals in pots and pans, make pouches of food using parchment paper or aluminum foil on your prep day. You can freeze and thaw them, or keep a few fresh ones out for upcoming meals that week. Cook the portions in the pouches, slit them open, slide the meal on to a plate and toss away the pouch.

Zero prep, zero cleanup and a fresh meal!

Sealed for freshness
A great tool to invest in is a vacuum sealer. On prep day you might make eight to 10 portions each of Szechuan chicken, Cajun rice and vegan chili. Put them in individual containers and freeze them uncovered.

Once they're frozen, pop them out of the containers and then vacuum seal each portion. They'll last for six months or more without the frost that often forms inside regular bags or containers.

2. Fresh and fast

If you prefer fresh ingredients for your meals, prep days would involve chopping vegetables for a salad and dividing them into individual portions to go in the fridge. Make up a few batches of different salad dressings and put them in the fridge as well.

Cook some chicken, steak or hard-boiled eggs and package them in portions. 

When you get home, you have a salad buffet in your fridge, or maybe veggies for a quick stir-fry.  

Buddha bowls
A balanced meal might be a grilled chicken breast, broccoli and some rice. On a plate, that doesn't look very appetizing. An alternative is creating a Buddha bowl, which has a base of either grains or greens. 

If you chop that chicken breast and broccoli and put it on a bed of rice with a bit of sauce, the appeal increases. Throw a handful of beans or pea shoots and now you have a composed dish.

The bowls can also be tailored for individual tastes and nutrition goals.

3. Best of both worlds

Combining ingredients you've frozen with fresh items is another option.

One of your prep days could include making pasta sauce and freezing it in portions. Thaw it and all you have to do when you get home is boil some pasta. Buy a pack of fresh meatballs if you don’t like making them and use some healthy sauce you’ve frozen. 

For breakfast, have the ingredients that count be the fresh portion. Make jars of overnight oats and add peanut butter, fresh fruit and almond milk in the morning.

If you want eggs, skip making a batch of frozen omelettes because they usually won’t taste that good thawed and reheated. Instead, on your prep day, chop up omelette ingredients such as mushrooms and peppers and sauté them and freeze in portions. Grate cheese to keep in the fridge. In the morning, heat up the thawed ingredients and crack eggs into them and add cheese for a healthy five-minute meal.

Eliminate the most work
Meal prep doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Ask yourself what element of a meal takes the most time to do. Try to eliminate that on a daily basis by doing it on your prep days.  

If you make the commitment and set aside the time, you’ll end up with something that's healthy and delicious.