style · beauty · home

Clean Eating Prep

Shop the post: Get my favorite food prep containers for your clean eating meal prep here.

I want to start this post about meal prep by saying I feel a little weird even blogging clean eating about this because none of it is rocket science but sometimes it just helps to have somebody lay it out the prep step-by-step. I’m not a terrible cook because I can follow a recipe but in general, I absolutely hate cooking. I would much rather be the one to throw together an elaborate appetizer tray and sit at your counter and drink wine while you cook. The process of cooking is a chore to me and I would rather eat out or order sushi to-go every single day of the week. This is not a good trait to have if you want to eat clean which pretty much mandates that you eat at home until you can learn to go into the wild (a.k.a a restaurant) with some self-control. In order for us to successfully complete this 21-day clean eating endeavor I had to get organized and prep for success.

For 21 days straight, Zach and I ate only lean protein, green veggies, berries + apples for a treat and Melba toast when we felt like we were going to die if we didn’t have a carb. For beverages all we had was water and more water, black coffee and green tea. I not only started dropping the pounds but I have more energy and am loving the fact that I’m starting to look and feel like myself again.

If you are interested in busting your sugar cravings, increasing your energy or just kick-starting a healthier lifestyle I urge you to eat super clean for 21 days. I’ve done Whole 30 and The Daniel Fast and honestly both of them were ok for me because a) I trolled out on potatoes once allowed for the Daniel Fast / the whole time on Whole 30 and b) I didn’t keep it up after the initial time period. This process of ridding any excess sugar & fat from diet for three weeks and forcing myself to eat bland food has really done wonders for me and has changed my overall eating habits. If you’re interested in trying it, I put together a meal plan and laid out the 10 things you must do to survive 21 days of clean eating. I’ll be sharing a ton of ideas on my instagram and pinterest account too so be sure to follow along!

10 Easy Steps To Prep For Clean Eating

1. Set aside time.

If you have kids then do this Sunday afternoon during nap (or movie) time, when they go to bed Sunday night or early Monday morning. If you don’t have kids then the world is your oyster, just carve out 2 hours to shop & meal prep.

2. Write it down.

List out exactly what you’re going to eat each week. The key to sticking with clean eating for 21 days is to plan your meals. I made the graphic below so that you could add it to Pinterest if you needed a list of easy clean eating dinners. It only addresses dinner because we would eat salads every day for lunch or sometimes I would scramble myself some egg whites. To stick within our clean eating guidelines for the salads we would do lettuce + veggies + a protein and either a no calorie dressing or the healthiest vinaigrette we could make from a tiny bit of olive oil and vinegar + seasonings. For the lettuce wraps I would just brown ground chicken on the stove, add salt + pepper and then top with shredded carrots, cucumbers and diced tomatoes. For breakfast, we wouldn’t eat and just drink black coffee (a.k.a. intermittent fasting) or we would have an apple.

Clean dinners and grocery list.

3. Get organized.

If you are going to successfully meal prep for a week of clean eating you can’t be spending all day doing it because you will just give up or quit. The key here is to be fast and efficient. Here is how we do it:

When you get home from the store put everything on the counter with a cutting board, knife, strainer, bowl for remnants and your containers of choice. If your trashcan is next to your prep station then you won’t need the bowl but I like it so that I can just throw in the ends I cut from the fruit and veggies to keep me from walking over to the trashcan every two seconds.

The first thing I do is wash my fruit and then lay it out on paper towels to dry. Then while those are drying off I wash and prep my veggies. I circle back to the fruit and then I save my meat for last. Which if I’m being 100% honest I save the fact that my husband cuts up the meat for last. I’ve had an aversion to chicken since I was pregnant with Hayden and while I am finally able to eat grilled chicken I can’t quite get near the raw version without a gag or 10. Also, salmonella totally freaks me out and I handle it as if there has been an anthrax outbreak in our kitchen. Remember how I said I don’t cook???

Grocery haul

4. Prep everything. And I mean everything in advance.

Seriously the key to eating clean is to prep everything. I chop up my brussel sprouts and asparagus so that all I have to do is pre-heat the oven, spray a pan, dump out the container and top with salt and pepper. Maybe I’m extreme, but if I have to wash something, dry it, cut it and then prep it that’s just one more opportunity for me to give up on clean eating and call the pizza man. Another thing I do is go ahead and snap my asparagus in half because I like it crunchier and it stores better. For the chicken, I buy a huge thing of it and half it. I marinate one half in a certain dressing and then chop up the other half for kabobs and marinate it in a different dressing. We really love Italian and Ginger Sesame dressings for marinating. I also go ahead and open cans or put fresh veggies in containers for the girls that I can easily pop in the microwave. When it’s the witching hour every second counts – no opening, pouring, rinsing, draining, putting into a bowl, microwaving etc. Just a pre-made container of black beans, lima beans or corn for the girls that I can nuke for 30 seconds and serve.

Prep meals for clean eating.

5. Bite sized pieces are your friend.

When you’re meal prepping, cut everything into bite-sized pieces! This is a pro-tip because a) it saves you space in your containers and b) it tricks your mind into thinking you are eating more than you are. This especially holds true for fruit. Fruit makes a great treat but it’s called nature’s sugar for a reason and you can’t lose weight by only eating fruit all the time. If you cut it in half it takes twice as many bites to eat and if you store in small containers you will be more likely to exercise portion control and not troll out on three pounds of strawberries. Not that there is anything wrong with strawberries so please don’t send me an email. I’m just saying if you are trying to kill the sugar urge in your body you need to practice some discipline when it comes to fruit and work to make yourself eat as many green veggies as possible.

Clean eating prep, strawberries for 21 day cleanse

6. Have trusty food storage containers.

Ok this one is big. If you’re going to meal prep for clean eating, you have to have containers that you can easily see what is inside of them, keep your food fresh and that aren’t a pain in the rear to open and close. I really really love the Rubbermaid BRILLIANCE line. They are 100% Leak Proof. Guaranteed. This is crucial for salmonella freaks like me. Seriously when you close them you can actually hear them sealing but the best part is you don’t need to get a wrench from the garage to open them back up. How many of you have struggled to open your food containers? I honestly threw an old one away one time because I was pregnant and hormonal and I couldn’t get it open and I was just over it. These Rubbermaid containers have these really easy to open latches on the side and maybe I’m just dramatic but when I’m forcing myself to eat celery for a snack it better be in an easy-to-open container or I’m falling right off the wagon. The 10 pc BRILLIANCE set is not only sleek and pretty (which I love because hello I write a style blog) but they are also stain and odor resistant, crystal clear so you can see what is inside, splatter resistant for the microwave and they also stack perfectly. I really don’t know what else to say other than I heart these containers so much. If you are looking to up your refrigerator-style game then you need to check out the 10 piece BRILLIANCE set from Rubbermaid without delay. You can get it on Amazon or it is also available nationwide at Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, and most times at your local grocery store. I gave a set to two of my friends and they absolutely love them. One is a maker of soups and all things homemade and the other is a hoarder of candy and cheeses and they are both equally addicted to them.

Clean foods for a 21 day cleanse.

7. Keep your eye on the prize.

I’m sure you have all read the article in the health magazines that say have healthy snacks at eye level, but it’s so true. There are entire studies on product marketing that prove this and it’s why all the big brands pay the big bucks to be eye-level in grocery stores. I buy clean and healthy snacks like grapes and carrots and celery in bulk as I prep my meals. I put part of them in my Rubbermaid BRILLIANCE containers right at eye level and the rest I store in those handy but easily forgotten fruit and veggie drawers. Maybe I am weak-minded but I’m much more likely to reach for a carrot or stick of celery when it’s the first thing I see.

Organized fridge for clean eating.

8. Force a habit.

This is the hardest of the clean eating steps because it deals with commitment. You have to commit to making this a success and turning over a new healthy leaf. This means that you are going to have to fake it until you make it with some of your vices. The hardest thing ever for me was learning to like black coffee. I am a coffee connoisseur. Some of my favorite memories from traveling to Israel, Italy and Paris was the coffee I got to drink. Espresso and Cappuccinos are a LOVE LANGUAGE for me. I honestly think I could survive off of coffee alone or at least I would die a happy death. If you know, you know and if you don’t, then you probably think I’m a freak but I obviously don’t care. In the beginning, I loathed the taste of black coffee but obviously needed the espresso (thank you two children) so I would let my coffee cool down and chug it with my nose held. This is a trick I learned from one of my nurse friends and I will be forever indebted to her. Slowly but surely I would take more and more time to drink this black poison and once I was riding my body of all the excess sugar I actually started to like it. However, I want to be perfectly clear I plan on picking up my Cappuccino addiction asap.

Rubbermaid Brilliance containers for meal prep.

9. Have a Plan B.

Ok this completely contradicts the step above. I think you need to plan and be determined to dominate 21 days of clean eating. However, I think you also need to realize that you are human and female so go ahead and have a plan B for the days when the wheels are falling off and you’re one step away from losing your marbles. I personally think it is only smart to know that at least one day out of 21 will go totally to hell and you’re not going to be prepared or you’re just going to need a cheat so that nobody gets hurt. For this reason, I recommend finding the absolute healthiest thing you can pair with raw veggies for a snack and only consume the bare minimum. When you meal prep for clean eating you need to make sure you have great options to have on hand for when disaster strikes, like hummus, natural (no sugar added) peanut butter and greek yogurt veggie dip (aka greek yogurt mixed with ranch seasoning). Maybe if you need a little peanut butter or some fake ranch dip to survive then the next day you work to eat only veggies and no fruit. It’s all about trying to continually make healthier choices until you force a habit. Then once you have toned up or kicked those sugar cravings for good you can introduce these healthier alternatives for good and in moderation.

10. Reward Yourself!

This one is my favorite. One great idea is set aside all of the money you would be spending on coffee, fast food or eating out for the three weeks and treat yourself to a new outfit. You can also do silly little rewards to keep yourself motivated. For example, when I was doing the cleanse the first time around my daughter was also potty training. She had a chart and got stickers for every time she went #1 or #2 and I had a chart for every time I survived a meal. Judge me if you want but smiley face stickers on a grid do wonders for my emotional state.

So there you have it! I posted this blog partially because of all of the questions I get on Instagram about clean eating but also to get myself motivated for another 21 days. I’ll be meal prepping every Sunday and sharing clean eating recipes on my Instagram and Pinterest account if you want to follow along. Also if you have any super clean and non-potato paleo recipes please please please share them with me below! I love to add things to my clean eating board for when I get in a rut.

Clean Eating, 21 Day Cleanse, Cleanse, Whole 30, Daniel Fast, Meal Prep, Food Prep, Meal Planning, Easy Dinners, Healthy Dinners - Clean Eating Prep featured by popular South Carolina lifestyle blogger, The Southern Style Guide
This post was sponsored by Collective Bias & Rubbermaid. All opinions are my own.

read & Leave a comment





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Kela says:

    thanks so much for sharing this Cristin! such inspiration! I dread taking out time from my sunday for these sorts of things but it’s a must. Otherwise, it makes for a harder work week! I also love those containers! You’re more likely to eat food that looks nice and organized too haha

  2. Melissa says:

    Hey Cristin, do you eat breakfast on the 21 day cleanse??? I am trying to she the baby pounds as well.

  3. ERIN CROTTS says:

    great article!! i have been meal prepping as well and i LOVEEEEEEEE this recipe….2 lbs tilapia, old bay seasoning (reduced sodium), lemons, and avocado oil spray. line a pan with tin foil, spray with avocado spray, place tilapia on foil sprinkle with old bay and after cutting up the lemons…put the slices on the tilapia…roll up the foil where there is a little steam room and bake on 425 for about 25 minutes… also roasted (frozen) broccoli florets are amazing! way better than steamed. VOILA…lunch for the week!

  4. April Beavers says:

    You sound just like me! Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Madie says:

    Great article! But what about for Saturday & Sunday meals? First time meal prepping!

    • We did it for 21 days straight so for Saturday and Sunday we would typically grill or cook any of our favorites. We had more time on our hands to decide what we felt like eating. A LOT of omelettes!

  6. Gemma says:

    How do you cook your sweet potatoes? What’s a good alternative to butter? Also, what kind of marinade do you use for your chicken?

    • You can put several washed sweet potatoes in a crockpot. Turn on low for all day cooking or high if you can get to them in a few hours. After they’re done, carefully remove the skin and portion them out in half cup serving sizes. You can also scoop them out in half cup portions on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and feeze. Store in ziplock freezer bags or use in prepped meals.

      • Kailey says:

        I love my sweet potatoes roasted. Peel and chop then in 2 inch pieces and toss with olive oil, turmeric, garlic and salt and pepper. Roast for about and 30. I love to add sauted mushrooms and kale!

  7. Christine Wilcutt says:

    You are a woman after my own heart. I am 70 and a widow so it’s hard to cook for one and I hate cooking anyway. I have been trying to simplify my meals and have mostly finger foods that can be kept ready to go in the fridge. Love your post and will try the Rubbermaid Brilliance as I like to be able to see through the top as well as the sides. Also with arthritis in my hands, these storage containers will be so much easier to open and close. Thanks again for all the neat ideas.

  8. Karlee says:

    So awesome! Super helpful!

  9. Amelia says:

    You are so funny! “Im not saying strawberries are bad. Don’t email me.” ????? you go girl. I cant wait to try this out!!

  10. Jade says:

    Do the cut carrots and broccoli etc stay crispy? And how long can you store the unpeeled eggs and chicken until it spoils?

  11. Fay says:

    This is a wonderful article. I love it. My only problem I seem to have is “freshness” I live on an island and most produce only as a 3 day shelf life so if I prep on a Sunday I have to shop and prep again on Wednesday which is when I cave in… any idea for later part of the week (I’m thinking egg based as they last ages) it’s alway my worry how long stuff lasts ??

    • I love hard boiled eggs or steamed snap peas / broccoli in a bag! I buy those all of the time and just heat them up. I also will make a “healthy” chicken salad with leftover grilled chicken using olive oil based mayo, a little honey, grapes and celery.

  12. Denise Sullivan says:

    Great ideas! You’re so inspiring. I love that you keep it real when things are not ideal. I have a salad dressing tip to share. When clean eating, I like to skip the oily or highly processed ones and instead use a fresh roasted garlic salsa that you find in the produce section or other places you might find fresh refrigerated salsas. Just be sure to read the ingredients carefully and choose one you love. Also, some shelf-stable brands make salsas with no sugar products and minimal ingredients. Or, make your own with roasted onions, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, lime, cilantro, salt, etc., It’s not hard. It adds more veggies anyway and makes the salad juicy and savory.

  13. CLSN says:


  14. Megan says:

    Just wondering why you would cut down or not eat hummus? If it doesn’t have added sugars or anything? I have never been able to eat raw veggies.

  15. Wren says:

    I, too, do all my cooking in one day for the week because my schedule is just so hectic at times it’s hard to find the time to just chill. But I hadn’t thought about prepping the food before you put it away, that’s so much more convenient and would probably allow me to cook more recipes on that one day, instead of slaving for hours over a few dishes. I recently satisfied my sugar craving by making my own dark chocolate pudding with no added sugar, except honey. In your processor, add one pitted and peeled avocado, a tablespoon of honey, 1/4 cup of organic cocoa powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract! Try it and tweak it to your liking, but it’s so rich and creamy you wouldn’t believe it’s an avocado!

  16. yaha says:

    you might have answered this already but I just want to make sure I understand. The containers help the chicken to stay fresh for a whole week in the fridge? I hate having to defrost but its so expensive to buy the chicken every time I want to cook. But I am super scared to eat meat that might be bad. SO you put it in the fridge sunday night and its good to go until friday?

  17. Anna says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I found you on Pinterest and will def be trying some of these tips out. Also, I’m a super huge freak about plastic containers matching and looking nice (my friends and family tease me!) and these that you shared have me wanting to throw ours out and start fresh – they’re so beautiful in your fridge!!! Lol!

  18. Jenn says:

    Love this article, thank you! New ideas, very inspiring and realistic. How many of those Rubbermaid sets do you suggest for prepping for a week? Seems like just one of the 10 or 14 piece sets won’t be enough? Thanks again!!

  19. mamavation says:

    Hi thanks !! for the info!

  20. Marilyn says:

    How do your prepped foods hold up for (some) 8-21 days? I’ve never had any food that stayed fresh for that length of time.

  21. Deborah says:

    Thank you so much for your detailed help and suggestions. The Rubbermaid Brilliance looks wonderful but I am concerned about storing different kinds of lettuce greens for salads. Would you recommend the Rubbermaid Fresh Works Produce Saver?

  22. Elizabeth says:

    What do you marinate your chicken in?

  23. Jenn says:

    Great post! I appreciate the time you put into this. Lots of helpful tips. Also, I always LOVE that you add humor to everything! You’re the blogger who I can’t wait to see your Instastories because I know I’ll laugh!

  24. Lisa says:

    I have never enjoyed a article about food prepping ever, I would say I can’t even get through reading most – Until I read your article! You are inspirational with great humor and I look forward to reading more helpful articles from you. Many thanks to you as I am meal prepping and clean eating starting today. Best regards, Lisa

  25. Maria luisa ventura says:

    I love the ideas ,i put them with my own ,l like the visible containers thanks

  26. Sierra says:

    How many of each kind of brilliance do you have? I really like them, I just don’t know what sizes are best/how many and it is a bit of an investment.

  27. Nathali says:

    Where can i buy those containers?

  28. Cheryl says:

    Hi great post, I have a question about the fruit and veggies in the drawers of the fridge.. do you take your apples , lemons. Oranges or whatever out of the produce bags and just line the drawers with paper towe? Or is it best to leave them in the bags until you use them? l

  29. Cheryl says:

    Hi great post, I have a question about the fruit and veggies in the drawers of the fridge.. do you take your apples , lemons. Oranges or whatever out of the produce bags and just line the drawers with paper towe? Or is it best to leave them in the bags until you use them?

  30. Donna says:

    Love your section on clean eating I like to print information so I can see it and follow. How can I print the prep part so I can do this process each week.

  31. Abbie says:

    Thank you thank you for this. I’m totally overwhelmed but needed this all laid out. Life saver!

  32. What i don’t realize is in reality how you’re now not really
    much more neatly-favored than you might be right now.

    You’re very intelligent. You realize therefore considerably when it comes
    to this subject, produced me in my opinion believe it from numerous various angles.
    Its like women and men are not interested until it’s one thing
    to accomplish with Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs excellent.
    Always maintain it up!

  33. Mandy says:

    Lots of good tips here but a special thanks for the one about Rubbermaid Brilliance. I’ve been dithering around for days trying to find appropriate food containers and these sounded just right. When I found them on the Costco site at a really good price, that’s when I knew it was Fate. Yeah!!!