Meal Prepping 101
All fitness gurus out there have their own different staple rules they live by when it comes to their fitness and nutrition routine.
Some prefer intermittent fasting while others choose to eat first thing upon waking.
There’s obviously many different ways to achieve fitness goals, but the one that all of the successful ones likely have in common is meal prepping.
I’ve put together this quick and to the point blog that explains not only the benefits of meal prepping, but also simply ways on how to go about doing it efficiently.
- Saves clean up time – Think about it. If you’re cooking dinner every single night, that means you’ll be cleaning up pots and pans every single night. That’s a good 20 + minutes at a time which turns into at least 2 extra hours a week of cleaning the kitchen. Save yourself the time and trouble by making it into 1 clean-up session.
- Reduces the chances of getting take out – When you come home from either a long day at work or carting the kids around, you’re likely pretty tired with little desire to cook a big meal. This is the most common time when people resort to getting take out because they don’t want to take the time to cook or clean up afterwards (see note 1 above). By having food fully stocked and ready to go in the fridge, you’re decreasing those chances of getting that heavy take out that likely wasn’t going to fit your macros anyways.
- Saves Money – Cooking your own food at home simply saves money. Sure you can always find some sort of deal at your local restaurants, but eating out all the time adds up . When you buy from your favorite cafe you’re not just paying for the food itself, you’re also paying for the labor that went into making it.
- You can multi-task – while the chicken is on the smoker and the potatoes are in the oven, you can start making the kids lunches for the next day, or get caught up on some emails, or start a load of laundry. You get my point.
- It’ll be easier to stay on track – Not having the foods you need in the fridge when you’re on a time crunch is just another excuse. Eliminate that excuse and you’re much less likely to use it.
- Don’t cook foods you don’t like – This should be a given. If you don’t like chicken, than stop cooking grilled chicken to eat every day of the week. Like, seriously. There are a lot of other lean meats you can try like steak, beef burgers (96/4%), turkey burgers, turkey loins, venison etc.
- Smoke, not grill or bake – I smoke the meat rather than grilling or baking it because the flavor and moisture stays 10x as long. I’m talking like over a week long where I have no hesitation at all to eat it on the 8th day (if it even makes it that long, we eat a lot).
- Choose a day and time that works best for you – Your meal prep day does not have to be Sunday. It does not have to be Saturday afternoons and it doesn’t matter if it’s at the beginning, middle or end of the week. Choose the day that you know you’ll be home for multiple hours at one time and make that day your consistent cooking day at x time.
- Pack your meals the night before – I’ll be honest and say you won’t ever catch me with 50 different tupperware containers out on my kitchen counter, placing literally every meal for the week in each one of them separately. That’s just not my thing. One reason is because I don’t like the different foods sitting together in the same container for days at time because I feel it messes with the flavors and taste, and I like to enjoy my food. With my days being different from day to day, I also just find it easier to prepare whatever I’ll need the night before…which consists of moving the food from the big tupperware into the individual tupperware. Real complicated, I know.
- Lean meats – As listed above, there are many different meats to choose from when trying to get your protein in. Go with the one you prefer and will be less likely to get sick of. If you’d rather not eat red meat, than you’ve got chicken, turkey and fish to choose from. If meat is tough for you in general, try ground beef in a skillet with taco seasoning. Who doesn’t like tacos??
- Starchy carbs – Starchy carbs are super easy to cook in bulk and will last for days at a time. Some of my favorites are jasmine rice, potatoes (white and sweet), whole wheat pasta and quinoa. For rice and quinoa I throw it in the rice cooker, the potatoes I usually just steam in the microwave in a zip lock bag for 10-15 minutes at a time, and the pasta I cook on the stove top. They’re all stored in the fridge and taken out when needed, simple as that. *Tip – I don’t add sauces in at this time, only when I’m actually about to eat it. This helps me track my macros more easily and keeps things from getting soggy.
- On the go veggies – I actually do not like cooking veggies in bulk because I don’t like the way they taste after a couple days. For the veggies that need some prepping, I will actually spend some time each evening preparing those while I’m warming up the rest of my meal. For veggies that I need during the day, I keep some around that don’t need prepping like sugar snap peas, celery and carrots.
- Fruit – The easy route here is to go with fruits you can take on the go such as apples, bananas and oranges. But if I’m craving some berries one week, the only prepping required might be a little washing and a little slicing (for strawberries).
- Whey Protein – Can’t forget this one! Not that you really need to “prep” it, but it’s a big part of my daily diet. I have 2 protein shakes a day (1 at breakfast because I don’t have time to cook in the mornings and 1 for post-workout), as well as 1 protein bar a day (lately I’ve been hooked on combat crunch bars). To ensure I never forget my post-workout, I always put it in my gym bag the night before while I’m getting the rest of my food ready. I also keep extra scoops of powder and post-workout treats like ricekrispie treats and poptarts in my bag for emergency backup in case I ever do forget it.
The biggest take that I hope you get from all of this is that there is no right or wrong way to meal prep.
What’s important is you find ways that work for you and that you’ll actually stick to.
I’ve got my system down so well now that I don’t even think twice about it anymore.
I keep things super simple by only cooking in bulk my meats and starchy carbs.
Sure all the meat that both my husband and I need for an entire week might take a couple hours to get it all smoked and cleaned up, but I multi-task during that time and have one hell of a productive afternoon.
The rest is just keeping up with my normal grocery shopping and the dishes (meaning tupperware).