If you’ve selected a meal plan to stick to chances are you’ll hear something about meal prepping. Meal prepping is key to keeping you on track with your goals. It’s the solution to eliminating the stress and lack of time for preparing meals during the week. Instead of having to cook meals every day of the week you prepare and batch cook one or two days in the week so that you have meals ready to eat with little cooking time. It can be tough to start off but after a few times things will become second nature. My secret is grouping your dishes together by how you cook them.
If you’re a beginner you can start off with doing one meal in the week. Dinners are usually the meals that my clients start off with since those are the meals that many people don’t have the energy for after a long days work. For those who are really motivated to you can try all three meals with snacks. Go with whatever works with your schedule.
So as you plan and prep your meals in advance for the week you’re going to need to start with a few things.
THINGS YOU NEED ON HAND:
- Your favorite recipes
- Fresh ingredients from the grocery store or farmer's market
- Microwave/oven safe airtight containers
- Ziplock or other plastic bags for snacks and storage purposes
- Some good jams to dance to
- Time to plan meals and cook
PLANNING FOR MEALS
Step 1: Pick one day a week (or two) as your prep day.
- A lot of my clients choose Sunday as their meal prep day. If you want to have two meal prep days you can choose for example, Sunday and Wednesday for meal prep.
Step 2: Plan your meals for the week. Each meal should have 4 components:
Vegetable + Starch + Lean Protein + Healthy Fats
- Vegetables: Dark leafy green veggies are best when trying to get the most nutrients. Also making your plate colorful because different colors provide different vitamins and minerals (ie: red, yellow, orange bell peppers; white, lavender, or green cauliflower, carrots..etc)
- Starch: Opt for whole grain and complex carbohydrates as much as you can. This will keep you fuller longer and provide you with a good source of fiber.
- Protein: Choose healthy meat with 80% or higher lean protein / 20% or less fat content. If you are vegetarian, vegan or are leaning towards a more plant-based diet making sure you’re getting enough adequate protein is important.
- Fats: Add healthy fats like avocado, seeds, nuts, oils to your meals. Limit products that have saturated fats and avoid trans fats.
SHOPPING WITH STRATEGY
- Check for food items that you already have beforehand and make a shopping list of all the items you need.
- Stay around the perimeter of the store for your whole food items and limit your time going in the middle aisles where processed packaged foods are sold.
- If you need containers to store your meals there a lot of different options from Tupperware to portioned plastic containers; however, I suggest using containers that are made with glass because they are safe to use in heat (microwave, oven, dishwasher safe) as plastic can contaminate the food at certain temperatures resulting in unwanted chemicals in your food. Here are some great glass containers here.
PREPARE FOR MEALS
- Peel, chop, and cut your veggies for meals, soups, stews, smoothies, and snacks.
- Peel, chop, and cut your fruits for breakfasts/lunches, smoothies, and snacks.
- Prep your protein for cooking. Stay easy on the seasonings.
- Set aside any items that you will use to make your spreads and dressings.
COOKING IN BULK
- Separate foods by how you are going to cook them: Grill, bake, crockpot, sauté, boil, etc.
- Try to make your proteins and starches versatile by keeping them basic (i.e. without sauces, seasonings, dressing, oil) so they can work with more than one dish. This will allow you to use them in a variety of ways – keeping them basic is key. You can add all the good stuff when you are ready to eat.
KNOW HOW TO STORE YOUR FOOD
- Fridge: Making sure any items that you will be storing in the fridge if you are cutting them have been washed, rinsed and pre-cut. Some produce lasts longer when you wait to wash them until the day you eat them, such as strawberries, lettuce - these items will need to be cut after washing.
- Freezer: Soups and stews can be stored in the freezer. You can store them in airtight glass containers or freezer bags. When you are ready to eat them all you have to do is reheat. You can also freeze your vegetables, starches, granolas and grains when you won’t need them for longer than week. Freezing fruits and veggies are always great for quick prep for smoothies.
- Other items: Items that haven’t been prepped will need proper storing. Check back next week for my post on this.
Meal planning and batch cooking are incredibly useful strategies for staying on track with healthy meals without spending so many hours putting together meals every day.
Stay tuned for a downloadable guide if this is something you'd like to try in the next week. I'd want to help make this process quick and easiest as possible! Breaking down meals and cooking them with strategy can get you to cook a weeks worth of meals in as little as 2 hours. Who wouldn't want that? I hope you find this helpful and would love to hear back in the comments below.