To start this off I would like to explain what Meal preparation, or meal prep for short, really is. Meal prepping is simply pre-preparing meals so that when you need them they are ready for you. This does not always involve cooking the meals.
WAYS TO USE MEAL PREPPING
Meal prepping in general should be used to make some aspect of your life easier. This can be as simple as one less thing to do in the morning before work or just having a meal already prepared to help you stick to a specific eating plan. One way to meal prep is to prep all of your meals for a certain amount of days and store them in the refrigerator. Others prefer to only prep one or some of the meals that they will eat throughout the day and cook some meals fresh before eating them. Another way to prep doesn’t involve cooking at all but only includes seasoning and portioning out ingredients for a recipe and freezing them in a freezer bag for a later date.
WHAT YOU NEED
1. food scale (if portioning food)
3. measuring cups
4. freezer bags
5. parchment paper or aluminum foil
To get started you will first need to plan out what you want to meal prep and decide a day to do your
meal prepping and/or grocery shopping on. Some simple things to start with are below.
- Proteins: chicken breast, ground turkey, ground beef, steak, eggs, fish if you dare
- Vegan options: lentils, beans, chia seeds, Hemp seeds, spirulina, seitan(gluten)
- Carbs: wild rice, quinoa, yams/sweet potato, brown rice, whole grain tortillas
- Healthy fats: Avocado, nuts, nut butters, olive oil, and coconut oil
- Vegetables: Green beans, asparagus, spinach, zucchini/squash, Greens, peppers
Once you have planned out your meals and the portions for each meal the next step is to go grocery shopping. Before you go be sure to check newspaper ads, company websites, and mobile apps for coupons and sales going on to save extra money and help plan what you want to buy from each store. Also be sure to make a grocery list including everything you need and the quantity of each item needed. This will help you stay on track and allow you to buy in bulk for things that warrant it.
Now that you have planned out your meals and have grocery shopped for everything that you need, it’s time to prep!
For this I usually start with the things that require the least effort to cook. So I will put my chicken in the oven and my rice or quinoa in the rice maker. If I make sweet potatoes, I cook them in the oven before my chicken so that they can cool down and I can peel them while the other food finishes. Lastly I make my vegetables on the stove top usually “sautéed” w/water or steamed. Once I am done cooking all of my food I portion it out using my scale and put in my Tupperware to store in the refrigerator.
1. Marinate your meat when possible
2. Buy nonperishable (rice, quinoa, oils, etc.) items in bulk for saving
3. Invest in a cooler bag if you work in an office – these range from $10 to upwards of $300 but a simple bag from target, amazon, or any department will do fine.
4. Rice cookers are awesome and will make your life easier
5. Parchment paper over foil (trust me on this)
6. Mason jar salads can be convenient when used right
7. Save money by using frozen vegetables
8. Slow cookers = saving time & less work
9. Measure your food to be honest about calories being consumed
10. Don’t stress you’ll get the hang of it