Meal-prep. Such a big term these days. And if you don’t know what it is, then I’m assuming you also just discovered the internet today, so Hi! And welcome!
Meal preparation (aka meal-prepping) involves planning all or most of your week’s meals in advance. It’s like having a TV dinner that you only have to warm up, but making sure it’s filled with all the good foods you need. Obviously good planning is key if you are looking to succeed at your goals, so anything that can help with the process is insanely appreciated.
Meal prep can comprise of different things to each person, so it is important you find a routine that works for you. Essentially, it should save you time in the kitchen and make it easier for you to eat healthier during the week. You may choose to prepare only breakfasts, dinners or even all of your meals, including your snacks. You may need to use a little bit of trial and error to get settled into a routine that suits your lifestyle and preferences. If you always find yourself in a hurry to get out of the door in the morning and your breakfast consists of a takeaway croissant, then preparing breakfast will help you. Likewise, if you struggle to get dinner together because you work late, you should focus on preparing dinners.
Here’s a guideline that I use when meal-prepping. This method may not work for everyone, but you can play around with the details a bit until you find what works for you personally.
Plan out your week’s meals
I like to keep things as simple but clear as possible. I choose to plan out and cook all my meals for the entire week. I create all the meal variations and put it all on paper first. Here’s a sample of my meal plan for this week:
Here’s how I created the meal plan above:
– Pick 3 or 4 vegetable options (broccoli, stir-fry, roasted vegetable mix etc.)
– Pick 3 or 4 protein options (lean ground beef, turkey, chicken etc.)
– Pick 2 or 3 carb options (brown rice, wholewheat English muffins etc.)
– Decide which snacks to make for the week.
– Use the options chosen to create 1 meal per day for the week plus the snacks. I use this smoothie bag method to prepare my breakfasts. For dinner, I often opt for simple and quick meals that can be completed in less than 30 minutes and then I don’t mind cooking these. I also cook enough of the protein and vegetables so that I can sometimes have the in the evening as well.
Time to go shopping
Using the options you’ve made, go grocery shopping to buy what you need. If you don’t have containers yet, then now is a good time to get some. These can be tupperware or the glass variety. Keep in mind that if you are going to be reheating your food in these you want to choose ones that are BPA free and won’t fall apart in the microwave/oven. If you are going to be prepping for a few days in a row, it can be a good idea to buy containers that are the same sizes so they can be easily stacked in your fridge.
Time to cook
Pick a day when you’ll have a few hours to prepare your meals and cook all the dishes you will need. Even though you only have about 2 – 4 meat and vegetable options, you can vary how you cook them in case you get bored easily by the same foods constantly. For example, you can cook chicken cubes with some garlic and herb and also make chicken strips using bbq seasoning. You can also choose to steam some vegetables and roast the others. But keep it interesting for yourself.
The fun part
Pack the different dishes into your containers. My general ratio is 1 cup vegetables, ½ cup carbs and 1 cup protein. For the sake of fridge space I usually just pack each of the snacks I make into their own container. This is just because I can easily grab an egg muffin or protein bar in the morning or when I need it.
As I mentioned before, make it your own. If you choose to prepare meals for just 3 days then do that. But make sure that whichever method you pick works for you. This shouldn’t be a chore but a complete lifesaver!
I mean, meal prepping is popular for a reason so have fun with it!