Forget what the guys have told you. “Meal prep” isn’t the beer you drink before the food arrives. If you’re looking to eat clean and save money, meal prepping is a great technique to employ.

As context, the average American spends 37 minutes prepping and cooking food each day. What if you could drop that time to less than five minutes? With meal prep, you can.

Best of all, you don’t have to be Gordon Ramsey to learn meal prepping for men. You don’t even need tons of experience in the kitchen. You simply need to understand how to follow a recipe — plus a few basics about storage.

Here’s a five-step guide to get you started.

1. Stockpile Supplies

Every kitchen-savvy man should have a few basics. Invest in supplies, such as the following:  

  • Milk
  • Greens
  • Proteins
  • Cooking oil
  • Basic seasonings

Once you have these staples, you can look at recipes and determine which ingredients you’ll need to pick up. Most recipes come with instructions.

Can you find information about refrigeration or freezing? Does the chef offer how long the food is good for once prepared fresh? These are essential details.

2. Start Simple

Use the investment cook approach when making a single meal. Craft lunches you can bring to work, or a dinner that’s ready to go. If you’re starving, the thought of cooking can send you straight to the drive-thru.

Find a recipe you like that calls for a manageable portion of food. Look for recipes that share ingredients, which will cut down on your grocery bill. For example, don’t buy a single slice of candied lemon you’ll never finish.

Instead, invest in long-lasting items, such as dried pasta, flour, mixed nuts, potatoes and canned meat.

3. Make Your Meals

You’ve selected your recipes. Now it’s time to cook. Create as many portions as you can without running out of ingredients or a place to store everything. It’s best to make dishes that can be frozen and thawed.

You can also search for foods that are safe to sit in the fridge for a few days. Once you master one recipe, move onto the next. Soon, you’ll have a cornucopia of meals at your disposal.

If you’re comfortable doing a dish a day, consider moving up to two. Each meal prep is an investment in your future. With plenty of handy dinners to grab and go, you can take care of breakfast, lunch and dinner in seconds.

4. Leave No Leftover Behind

It’s challenging to avoid leftover ingredients when you meal prep. Instead of obsessing over every portion, consider what’s left and determine how to transform it into something else. For example, you can puree leftover beans to create a dip or sandwich spread.

Restaurants are famous for making soup using vegetables left from other dishes — the raw ones, not people’s table scraps. If you have extra cold cuts from sandwiches, chop them up and add it greens and toppings to make a chopped salad.

Once you know how to use leftovers wisely, you’ll start making larger batches.

5. Think on Your Feet

One of the beautiful things about cooking is that it’s okay to be imprecise. When you’re comfortable cooking a selection of staple dishes, you’ll begin to improvise. That’s when things start to get fun.

Try using the sauce from one meal as a marinade for next week’s chicken or beef. Borrow home-made croutons from a salad use them to make a loaf of gourmet garlic bread for the football game.

Great chefs gather inspiration from their surroundings. Meal prep doesn’t have to be boring or repetitive. The more you practice, the more ways you’ll find to expand what you know. Plus, the more you learn, the more delicious your food will be. Pretty soon, cooking won’t feel like work at all — it’ll be fun.

A Guide to Meal Prep for Men

Are you new to meal prep? If so, follow the tips above. What seems like a chore can turn into an exciting time of the week. Start by stockpiling supplies and learning how to use leftovers.

If you make a mistake, don’t despair. Creative cooking is about thinking on your feet, whether you’re missing an ingredient or burning the toppings.

Do you have kitchen secrets that make meal prep simple? If so, we want to know! What’s your go-to dish after a long day at work?