Do you want to feel healthy? Do you want to lose weight? Build muscle? No matter what your end goal is, it always benefits to be prepared! Our society likes having things fast and convenient so by preparing your food in advance it gives you less opportunity to make an impulsive decision due to hunger.
As much as I love cooking, I never want it to feel like a chore so here’s are 7 steps that help me get through my meal prep quick & efficiently.
Plan, plan, plan!
Planning can feel like the most overwhelming part, but it is the most important part. Simplify your life by spending a few minutes creating a plan before you go do your groceries. Make a decision about what you would like to make for the week. When I first started I had so many notebooks of things I wanted to cook. After digging around in the app store I found a little gem that helped make my life a lot easier. The app is called mealboard. It allows you to import your own recipes or recipes you’ve found on the web into a library. From the library you can choose recipes that you would like to make each week, allowing you to plan weeks in advance. The app then helps you create a grocery list. The list makes it easy to go through your cupboards and see what you already have, checking off things you have as you go or what you will need to pick up. Otherwise, you can go old fashion and make a list on paper. I also recommended planning which stores you need to go to before you start your shopping. Check out Flipp for your local flyers! If you’re comfortable in the kitchen, while you’re doing your planning try incorporating different types of recipes. Example; a crockpot recipe, a stovetop recipe and oven recipe, that way you can start multiple recipes at the same time.
Understand your portions.
This is something I struggled with for a long time. I tried macro counting, which worked amazing but I didn’t love feeling tied down to tracking each different item separately. When I started Beachbody it helped me put portion sizes and categories into perspective. A cup of this, a ¼ cup of that, it was just very simple! The 21-day fit tracker app makes it easy to track what you have left for the day. Before Beachbody, I had been meal prepping for almost a year, yet wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. I believe having a solid plan made the difference. I would suggest talking to a coach, a nutritionist or taking to Pinterest to see different meal plans. It’s important to find one that works for you and that it’s easy for you to follow. Once your plan is complete you can figure out how much of each ingredient that you need for a number of meals you’re making.
Eat whole foods.
So many of our grocery stores are filled with processed junk. Shopping on the perimeter of the grocery store can help eliminate putting things in your cart that you don’t really need. When shopping I always bring a list and stick to it. I always use fresh herbs and spices instead of sugar filled sauces. If you really want that sauce, take 5 minutes and make it yourself so you know what’s in it.
Make healthy ingredient swaps.
Healthy ingredient swaps are so important to implement in your kitchen to make every recipe a healthier one! Swap processed white sugar for coconut sugar, butter for ghee, or cornstarch for arrowroot powder. I have so much more to talk about, so we’ll come back to this topic in another post in more detail.
Prepare your ingredients in advance.
Making sure all your ingredients are ready to put together helps everything go quicker. I’ll generally do my grocery shopping then come home and prep all my vegetables, portion out the meat (since I normally buy in bulk), and prep any quinoa, rice or sweet potato I might need for my recipes. If I don’t have enough time to prep everything I’ll at least find the time to prep and cook any vegetables I need. For anything extra, I’ll vacuum seal it, freeze it, and take it out, as I need it throughout the week. This keeps your ingredients at their freshest and more nutrient packed. Since we planned our meals in advance it’s easy to know what needs to be done!
There are so many different ways to execute this last step and each person will find their personal preferences as they go. I always recommend tackling your prep one recipe at a time when you first start unless you can start a crock-pot or throw something in the oven while you’re busy doing something else. If you try to do too much you might feel flustered or confused about what you need to do next. If you decide to do some “pre-prep*” and not cook all your food on that day then cooking one recipe at a time shouldn’t be a problem. I love cooking this way as well because it gives me the opportunity to eat something not microwaved. It’s also important to have good cooking tools. I’m lucky that my mother set me up with a pretty amazing starter kitchen of high-quality tools that I’ve continued to add to.
Pack it into individual portions.
What makes meal prepping or just making extra for leftovers different? For me, it’s about having everything perfectly portioned, easy to grab, and convenient. Packing meals in a reusable, microwave and dishwasher safe “take-out” container are what’s worked best for me. I had tried glass containers because my boss always tells me it’s not good to eat out of a microwaved plastic. She’s a doctor so I’m sure she’s right, but I just found them too heavy and bulky. Though I do try to put it on a plate before I heat it up, so I still sort of listening, right?
While you’re doing all this, don’t forget to have a little fun and be creative! This should be part of your weekly routine so if you don’t enjoy doing it, it’s going to be hard to commit to it.
Feel Free to drop any questions below!
*Pre-prep: My definition of pre-prep is preparing as many of the ingredients as I can without actually cooking anything. I’ll do this if I’m strapped for time or if I’m not sure how many days my other half is away on business to eliminate having any wasted food.