Need to meal prep but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve been doing this for a while and you just need to get back to basics. Then this is the place for you!
Fail to plan, plan to fail. These words could not be more true when it comes to meal prep. If you want to make sure your eating is in line (which is definitely needs to be if you want to meet ANY fitness goal) then meal prep will be your best friend. And remember… Flexible Dieting is not a free for all as long as it fits! It is still important to feed your body with healthy portions and healthy foods. Flexible Dieting allows you to fit in those snacks and treats however WITHOUT blowing your progress.
A good meal prep applies to any successful fitness and nutrition program, whatever that program may be. Keep in mind you will have to find what works for you, but maybe seeing what I do for food prep will give you some inspiration!
Step #1: Gather your tools. Just like you have equipment in the gym, you have to have equipment in the kitchen. You’ll need a food scale/measuring cups, sticky tabs and a sharpie, and containers and baggies.
Keep in mind my method uses the sticky tabs/sharpies, but it’s not necessary and it has to be what works for you!
Step #2: Grocery shop. You didn’t think this would need to be a step, would you? But this is KEY to a good meal prep. When you make your grocery list make sure to include protein (chicken, fish, beef, turkey, etc) for the main portion of your meals, sides (potatoes, rice, squash, eggplant, etc), snack foods (yogurt, cottage cheese, veggies, fruit, string cheese, nuts, pretzels, etc), and toppings (salsa, shredded cheese, nut butters, seeds, etc). I prefer to get my veggies from the farmer’s market… fresh, yummy, and oh-so affordable! I prefer to get my veggies from the farmer’s market… fresh, yummy, and oh-so affordable!
Step #3: Cook your food. Seems obvious I know – so why do I mention it? Because you need to make sure you cook enough for a whole week. Or, you could cut the amount in half, but my personal preference is to do all the cooking in one day for a full 7 days. Sometimes during the week getting to a food prep can be tricky, so set aside 3-4 hours on the weekend for a full week long food prep. Tip: Do some research on how to best cook things in bulk. Using the grill and crock potswill save you time! After some time you will develop a preference for how to cook things and it will streamline the process.
Step #4: Portion out your meals. Now is the time to start prepping! You’ll need a food scale (or measuring cups if you prefer those). If you use a food scale, zero it out to the weight of your container. Dump in your first product. I use a sticky to write the amount of food and put it on the lid of the container. Once you have your meat in, zero out your scale again. Dump in the veggies! Use the same process for your veggies and write the amount on the sticky tab. Voilá! You have prepped your meal. Now, do this about 7-8 more times until you have enough food to take with you throughout the week. If you use measuring cups, just measure out your protein and veggies into each container until you have enough containers filled.
Step #5: Portion out your snacks. Snacks? Absolutely! You can’t just have meals at the ready. Plus, the snacks will You’ll need small containers for things like yogurt or cottage cheese, and baggies for fruit or pretzels or nuts. Or, you can use small containers for these too but some fruits are too awkward of a size for a container. Ps – baggies don’t weigh anything, at least by my scale! Woop! Use the same process as before if you use a food scale. Zero out your scale to your container, fill it with your food, then write on a sticky tab the weight of the food. If you have a baggie, portion out your snacks, weigh the baggies, write on a sharpie the weight, and you are good to go!
Dump in your snack… this is fat-free cottage cheese. On the sticky tab, I wrote “4.7oz.” To be more accurate, you SHOULD be using grams – so just make that note! Make sure to have enough snacks at the ready.
If you use a baggie, fill the baggie, then put it in the scale.
Using a sharpie write the oz on the baggie! If you do more than one item, make sure to zero out your scale before adding another item into your baggie. Then, make sure to write BOTH amounts on the baggie and label them so you know what amount goes with what food. Keep in mind, use grams for the MOST accurate tracking measurement!
Step #6: Enjoy your efforts! Now you can grab and go! Your food is ready to go for the week. You’ll find it so much easier in the morning, you will have food at the ready, and you won’t have to worry about portion control. Plus, food prep saves you a TON of money because you are not as likely to eat out and spend $10-$15 (or more) on a single meal.
A few more things…
- If you are eating the same thing every day, apply the principals above but obviously to your own meal plan. Meaning, you may not have to write the weight/amount of food down if you have the same amount of food each meal on a consistent basis.
- If you have a good idea of the portions, don’t worry about prepping the SIZES so much. But once again – apply the same principals, and have 7-8 (or however many you need) meals ready to go and about double that in snacks.
- Invest in some quality tupperware – it will make it so much better. Pyrex is my favorite! Also, Rubbermaid Easy-Find Lids are worth it as well. If you want to wait, Walmart has some smokin’ deals on them on Black Friday!
Happy Meal Prep!