Happy health: A guide to meal prep

Ever wondered what a week would look like without ever having to worry about preparing food on food on the weekdays? If so, take a look at a week through the life of John Clarke, The Meal Prep King.

The Prep for the Prep

John starts his Saturdays off shopping at one of his favorite local places, Iddons Bury Market in Manchester. Always there to accompany him on shopping day is his fiancé, Charlotte. 

Saturday’s consist of 4 grocery trips: The Bury Market, Tesco, and Aldi, and Whole Bargains.

First trip? Their local market for produce. 

The Iddons Bury Market offers high quality, locally sourced produce from farmers all around the United Kingdom. 

John’s fresh produce purchased from Iddons Bury’s Market (Photo by: John Clark)

In preparation for the week and following month, the couple hand picks a variety of fruits and veggies: Campari, Roma, and plum tomatoes, green grapes, 2 varieties of potatoes, whole carrots, yellow and green zucchini, beet root, heads of broccoli, avocados, lemons and limes, spring green onions, string beans, raspberries, bokchoy, and celery. In addition, 7 kilos worth of blueberries are emptied into their basket by the end of their trip. The berries are fresh enough to snack on straight from the barrel as they browse.

Loading the trunk with boxes of their goodies, John and Charlotte navigate themselves to the next shop: Tesco. 

Although Tesco has plenty of fresh produce as well, John chooses to stick to this store for a small selection of dry goods: bulk spices, canned beans, tea bags, and a pack of bagels. Common seasonings he buys in 8 oz. bulk bags are ground cumin and coriander, which lasts him an entire 2 years. 

Although the spices are a bargain, many other items at this shop can easily break the bank. For example, if John were to solely purchase 7 kilos of blueberries at Tesco’s (with no other food), it would bring the register to a whopping 93.3 pounds. Comparatively speaking, at the Bury’s Market, John can purchase this same amount of blueberries and 1 months worth of produce for him and his partner for 30 pounds. 

The last stops for Saturday shopping are Aldi and Whole Bargains. Aldi is the place John has found the most success shopping for meat and proteins. Ground turkey, beef mince, chicken thighs, lamb, chicken breast, and pork filet are all staples in his fridge and freezer purchased from here. Whole Bargains is typically a last stop for other needed dry items, such as the carbs used in their meal. Flour, rice, breads, pastas, and sauces are things you will find in John’s shopping cart. 

According to data from American Express, the average couple allocates $686 towards their food bill per month, $382 of which is spent on groceries. For John and Charlotte, the overall cost for a long shopping day totals to $202.59. Although they will stop at the mart a couple more times within the month for basic necessities, the ingredients purchased on this trip will feed them for 4 weeks.

With all of these ingredients, it’s time to get chopping!

A sample week for meal preps across the board might look like this, depending on recipes chosen. 

  Breakfast Lunch  Snack Dinner
Monday Fruit jar Zinger Burgers Veggies and Hummus Shawarma Kebab
Tuesday Yogurt, fruit, flax seeds Chicken Fajitas  Peanut Butter     Cups Chickpea Curry
Wednesday Yogurt, fruit, flax seeds Honey Soy Garlic Chicken Veggies and Hummus Shawarma Kebab
Thursday Fruit Jar Chicken Fajitas Veggies and Hummus Glazed Salmon with Potato Wedges
Friday Fruit Jar Zinger Burgers Peanut Butter Cup Honey Soy Garlic Chicken

How to Start

On Saturday night, the eve before meal prep, 18 glass tupperware containers are set out on his table, along with 10 glass mason Jars. All containers used are microwave, freezer, and glass safe. To ensure effective reheating, John’s TMPK containers also have a removable silicone piece for steam.

To ensure effective reheating, John’s TMPK containers also have a removable silicone piece for steam.

Containers laid out the night before meal prep. (Photo by: John Clark)

Further, to ensure a fresh start, countertops and stove tops are wiped down with a cleaning spray. Cutting boards, kitchen scales, and other specialty items (slow cooker, air fryer, measuring cups etc). are also set into place.

Then, come every Sunday morning, John is ready to dedicate 6 hours to his food prep ritual. All food needed for the upcoming week’s recipes is transferred from the cupboard, freezer, and refrigerator onto the kitchen counter tops. From spices and flours to fresh fruits and veggies, all required ingredients are at his fingertips. 

Now, which meal to prep first?

John prefers to prepare his meals in accordance to typical meal order; this means filling the fruit jars first, with lunch and dinner to follow.

After rinsing grapes, strawberries, and blueberries with cold water in a colander, he pats them dry with a cloth towel. Cuties are peeled and separated into segments, and following this, strawberries are de-stemmed and quartered. All of this is done with the help of a paring knife and wooden cutting board.

Next, placing the mason jar onto the kitchen scale, John starts an assembly line of fruit. The base consists of two different colored grapes: green first, and red to follow. In accordance, strawberries are placed a top, with the last two tiers comprising of clementine segments and blueberries. As he crafts each mason jar, the scale ensures an equal portion of all fruits. 

Next up? Lunch. Per shown in the table for Monday’s eats, Zinger Burgers will be plated and portioned for lunch.

To make this 350 calorie meal, he starts out by cracking two eggs into a bowl, sprinkling in a pinch of salt and pepper, and fork-whisking the contents until fluffy. In a separate container, Doritos are shaken into a glass bowl until the scale reads 40 grams. From here, the Doritos turn into corn-flake consistency through the use of a pestle. A teaspoon of paprika, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder each are additionally incorporated into the Doritos bits to achieve the “zing” factor.

Sitting aside the 2 other containers, a final bowl is used to hold 50 grams of flours. After 2 lean chicken breasts are sliced into strips, John coats the protein in the order of flour, egg mixture, and Doritos bits. With a spritz of  Fry Light oil to mist each tender, they are set on a tray and ready to bake. 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit allows the chicken to reach a desired golden brown color. 

As the chicken finishes crisping, three grill-toasted brioche buns are frosted with a generous helping of low-fat mayo. Each bun then receives a piece of green bib lettuce, followed by the zingy, hot chicken strips. A spoonful of chili sauce adds a final layer of flavor, and the Zinger Burgers are set for the week. 

A completed week of meals stacked in the fridge. (Photo by: John Clark)

For dinner, most meals count on John to rinse, hand chop, and season veggies with spices according to the dinner’s flavor palette. This can include items such as tri-colored bell peppers for a stirfry,, or onions, broccoli, and carrots for a simmering base. Alongside veggies, a carb and protein source are integrated into each of their nightly meals. Often, time is allocated towards slicing chicken and searing meat, although his containers are filled with a wide variety of protein sources. You can find John glazing a salmon filet with a homemade teriyaki sauce, or cracking open a can of chickpeas from the grocery mart, rinsing and draining them for flavorful chickpea curry. In addition, bags of long-grain white rice are prepared in numerous ways for their carb source; turmeric golden rice, plain white rice, and more. Using a mandolin to scallop, a pot to boil, or the oven to bake, potatoes are also an easy and versatile carbohydrate in their dishes. 


For hours to come, John continues to follow his meal prep routine, portioning his foods into meals all under 550 calories. Upon finishing, refrigerator shelves stack and fill with his completed meals, and he is set for a week of grab and go nutritious eats. 


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