The Beginner’s Guide to Meal Prepping
Meal prepping saves you time in the kitchen and makes it more convenient to eat healthier throughout the week. If you don’t have much time in the morning for breakfast then prepping some overnight oats is a great way to get your day started right.
Prepping meals in advance will help you stick to your nutrition plans. You'll feel better because you are feeding your body the right mix of healthy, whole foods. Not to mention you'll see huge impact on the results you from the work you do in the gym.
Despite what you may have heard… meal prepping is not complicated. Everyone’s meal prep routine just looks a little different. Getting your personal routine down will take a few tries so it’s best to start small.
Here are 4 simple steps for anyone new to meal prepping.
How To Meal Prep
You'll need to invest in quality containers. I recommend getting matching containers so it's easy to stack everything in your fridge. Since you’ll be frequently reheating food in the containers make sure you choose something free of BPAs.
1. Plan Your Meals
Take some time to plan your meals for the week. Think about what part of your routine is the most rushed. Where do you need the most help getting the right nutrition? Do you need snacks too?
Make sure that your meals align with your goals.
If you are just starting out with meal prep, don’t get overwhelmed. Don't try to prep an entire week at once, instead stick to three days max until you feel comfortable.
Write down each breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack you will be eating, then break that down into a list of ingredients, and how much of each you will need to last over that 2-3 day period. To prevent wasted food, I recommend sticking to familiar recipes.
It is also a good idea to use recipes that can be prepared in advance. I love meatloaf, chili, roasted chicken, and other things that can just sit in the fridge until I’m ready to reheat it.
2. Shop for Ingredients
You don't want to go to the grocery store without a meal plan, otherwise, you'll just chuck random stuff into your cart. A meal plan will help you be strategic about the things you buy so you don't end up with a fridge of rotten food. Instead, you'll have everything you need to consistently eat healthy and balanced meals.
I love experimenting with different spices for marinades and dressing. Try to incorporate as much variety as you can so that you don’t get bored of eating the same thing. I pair my lean proteins with some sort of sauce or spice coating and jazz up my veggies with a lemon juice or homemade dressing.
Even though chicken is a mainstay in my diet, I also like to change up my proteins every once in awhile.
3. Cook Your Meals
Meal prepping on Sunday and Thursday nights is a great rhythm for me. How much time meal prepping takes depends a lot on what I’m prepping versus actually pre-cooking. I almost always pre-cook my lunches because I don’t have very much time in the middle of the day between personal training clients
You don’t have to pre-cook everything though.Just having the ingredients measured out and chopped up can really speed up your cooking and cuts down on time spent doing dishes.
Stir frys are a really great and healthy dinner. If you chop up all the veggies and marinade the meat ahead of time then cooking the stir fry will only take you like 20 minutes and you won’t break out your cutting board or knives.
You can freeze all sorts of things once they're prepped and then cook them at mealtime. My freezer is often filled with marinated chicken breasts, homemade turkey burger patties and chopped veggies and fruit for smoothies.
Another great way to save time is to make large batches of your favorite sauce. I do this with my homemade tzatziki, which I use as a snack on carrots and on top of chicken and fish.
4. Fill Your Containers
This might feel a little like Tetris at first but soups and chilis usually go in a round container and more complex meals that have a meat, starch, and vegetable go in rectangle containers. However you do it, just use the same container for each serving of a particular meal.
You can also wash all fruit and portion the nuts that you will be using as snacks so that you can easily eat them on the run.
I also like to chop up carrots and dip them in this really bomb tzatziki (greek yogurt dip) that’s got plenty of protein. Bananas, apples, and other whole fruits are really easy to work into your plan too.
It's really important to customize your plan for your schedule. If you have time for a gourmet breakfast but only a 20-minute lunch break, then plan your meals accordingly.
Get Started with Meal Prepping
So that’s my simple approach to meal prepping. I also have a meal prep guide that will help you come up with your ingredient list and make shopping a breeze. Go ahead and download it for free.