Step-by-Step Meal Prep
Wondering how to start meal prepping but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve been doing this for a while, and you 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 accurate when it comes to meal prepping. If you want to make sure your eating is in line (which it needs to be if you’re going 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 your macros! It is still important to fuel your body with healthy portions and healthy foods. However, Flexible Dieting does allow you to squeeze in those snacks and treats WITHOUT blowing your progress.
A good meal prep applies to any successful fitness and nutrition program, whatever that program may be. Keep in mind that you’ll 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. Like you have the proper apparatus in the gym, you have to have the right equipment in the kitchen. You’ll need a food scale, measuring cups, sticky tabs/labels, a sharpie, and containers and baggies.
Keep in mind my method uses the sticky tabs/sharpies, but it’s not necessary, and success comes from what works for you!
Step #2: Grocery shop. You didn’t think this would need to be a step, did you? But grocery shopping isthe KEY to starting meal prep. When you make your grocery list be sure to include protein (chicken, fish, beef, turkey, etc) for the central 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!
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 seven days. Sometimes during the week getting to a food prep can be tricky, so set aside 3-4 hours on the weekend for a whole weeks worth of food prep. Tip: Do some research on how to best cook things in bulk. Using the grill and crockpots will 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 my tupperware. Once you have your meat in, zero out your scale again. Dump in the veggies. Use the same process for your vegetables 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, 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. You’ll need small containers for things like yogurt or cottage cheese, and baggies for fruit or pretzels or nuts. You can use small containers for these too but some fruits are shaped too awkward for most containers. 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 with 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 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 ounces on the baggie. If you add more than one item, make sure to zero out your scale before adding another item into your bag. Then, make sure to write BOTH amounts on the baggie and label them. That way you know how much goes with what food. Keep in mind, using grams will give you the MOST accurate tracking measurement!
Step #6: Enjoy your efforts! Now you can grab and go. Your food is prepped for the week. You’ll find it so much easier in the morning having 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 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 meal prepping 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 the lids for Black Friday!
Happy Meal Prep!