Make Meal Prep Easy With These 3 Tips
Let's ring in the new years with a meal prep article with 3 actionable tips to help you get on the road to success.
Meal prepping isn't the secret to weight loss, although the planning and preparation that you engage in are what helps you lose weight.
A lack of preparation is what causes people to fail. Don't be one of those people.
What Is Meal Prepping?
Imagine eating whatever foods sound appealing to you, without having to be in your kitchen every day. You'll save time and money by planning out your meals for a week, buying things that are on sale, and spending one or two days preparing all of your meals for that week.
You'll eat healthier foods with perfect portions, you'll skip the heavily processed snacks and meals, and you'll never have to figure out what you need to eat.
Having healthy foods that fit your needs instead of needing to reach for something quick and easy is the name of the game. Eliminating the potential for you to eat unhealthy foods is thrown out the window, and it works really well.
Getting Started With Meal Prepping
If you are overwhelmed thinking about planning, cooking, and portioning out your foods, don't be. As a beginner, too many people are bogged down by minutiae and trying all of these new "meal prep recipes."
Incorporating a completely different diet than what you are used to is why many people who go on "health-kicks" burn out. Losing weight and changing to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle simply doesn't work like that.
Just like in the gym, start small with your meal prep and work your way up.
Best Products for Meal Prep
Everyone likes different foods and has different lifestyles, but in general, there are a few products that help make meal prep easier.
Here are a few things I own or have been recommended:
- Plastic Meal Container Set - Inexpensive and worth using, these will provide portion sized containers that make meal prep a breeze.
- Slow Cooker - Make rich, full-flavored meals while you are at work. It does the work for you.
- Rice Cooker - Great for rice and steamed veggies, it's a keeper.
- Gallon-Sized Plastic Storage Bags - Great for storing and freezing foods.
- Smaller Snack-Sized Plastic Bags - You don't have to completely stop eating your favorite snacks, just portion them out.
Make Meal Prep Easy With These 3 Tips
Now that you have the gist of what meal prep is and some products to make it easier, let's jump into the tips.
1.) Get Organized and Pick a Day
Pick a day you can prepare all of your meals. It doesn't have to be on the same day you buy your food, although chunking out several hours to do your shopping, listen to some good tunes, and getting your meals prepared is relaxing and productive.
Many people like to choose Sunday and Wednesday to do meal prep. It splits the work into two days, making meal prep an even less time-consuming activity.
Plan out how many meals you will need and take stock of what you have in your pantry.
Once you have figured out what you have in stock, you need to choose your recipes.
Pro-tip: Find what day you are able to be the most productive and run with it. Don't try to stick to the Sunday/Wednesday convention.
2.) Choose the Recipes
This is the fun part. You are able to find new recipes that meet your nutritional goals and have the flavors that you enjoy the most.
Be adventurous and try new recipes; you never know what you are going to love.
If you have a busy week ahead, make sure to find meals that are easily and quickly eaten.
Pro-tip: Check your local ads to see what coupons and sales they have going on. If pork loin or chicken thighs are on sale, finding recipes that use them will save you money.
3.) Make Your List
Now that you have what recipes you want to use, see what things you already have at home and make your shopping list of what you need. Once you have made your list, run to the store and grab what you need.
If you have time, wash, cut up, and prep your veggies and fruits as soon as you get home. Portioning them out and putting them into containers when you get home makes cooking and packing meals much easier.
As a general rule, properly stored proteins should last for 3-4 days in the fridge, while pasta and rice should last 3-5 days.
If you aren't too smooth with a knife, I suggest trying to learn some knife skills. Buy some cheap produce like celery and chop away.
The goal is to cut uniform-sized pieces, and adding speed as you get better. Practice other cuts like chopping and julienne cuts.
If preparing veggies is your bottleneck for time, look into buying pre-cut flash frozen produce, fruits, and even the occasional rotisserie chicken.
Pro-tip: Buy a rotisserie chicken and shred all of the meat off. You now have the base to create chicken salads, shredded bbq chicken, or whatever else your imagination can come up with.