Meal prep is a fantastic way to save time, stay on track with your nutrition goals, and make healthier weekly choices. By dedicating a few hours to planning, prepping, and portioning your meals in advance, you can set yourself up for success and minimize the stress of cooking every day. In this blog post, we'll explore essential tips and strategies to help you master the art of meal prep.
Plan Your Meals:
Start by creating a meal plan for the week. Consider your dietary preferences, nutritional needs, and any specific goals you have. Plan various meals that include lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Aim for balanced meals that provide a range of nutrients.
Make a Shopping List:
Make a detailed shopping list based on your meal plan. Check your pantry and refrigerator to see what ingredients you already have, and only buy what you need. This helps avoid waste and saves money. Stick to the grocery store's perimeter, where fresh produce, lean proteins, and whole grains are typically found.
Meal Prep in Batches:
Choose a day or two during the week to dedicate to meal prep. Prepare large batches of staple ingredients such as roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, or cooked grains like quinoa or brown rice. These can be used as building blocks for various meals throughout the week.
Invest in Quality Containers:
Invest in a set of high-quality, reusable containers that are microwave-safe, BPA-free, dishwasher-safe, and leak-proof. The containers should also fit your lifestyle. Below are three options you should consider when purchasing meal prep storage containers.
Compartment Containers: Are you a busy individual who is always on the go? Are you looking to pop into your fridge and pull out an already-prepared meal you can take wherever and whenever you're ready to go? Then it would be best if you opted for containers with multiple compartments to keep different food items separate. This helps maintain freshness and makes portioning easier. This option eliminates decision-making, making it easier to stick to your goal.
Large Containers: Do you work from home or have a more flexible schedule? Then it may be more worthwhile to purchase sturdy, airtight, larger containers to store your batch-cooked foods. For example, you'll have one container for chicken, one for cut fruit, one for boiled potatoes, one for steamed vegetables, and so on. Because you have a flexible schedule, you can pick and choose your meals and weigh them out throughout the day.
Combo: Invest in containers with compartments and those of larger sizes to fit your lifestyle.
Portion Control Your Prepped Meals:
Practice portion control to ensure you consume appropriate serving sizes when assembling your meals. Use a food scale to accurately measure ingredients and divide them evenly among your containers. This helps you maintain calorie control and prevents overeating.
Use a food scale to measure the liquids in a dish, such as oils and dressings. A tbsp or cup can be a heavy pour, and you can easily overeat without realizing it.
Use a calorie-tracking app to track your meal. Our favorite is MyFitnessPal since they have the largest food database of all the food tracking apps.
Poultry and meats weigh approximately 1oz less than their raw weight. Ex: 99% fat-free chicken breast is 110 calories for 4oz raw or 3oz cooked.
Try to hold as much water in your food to keep you feeling fuller. Ex: Boiled potatoes are more filling than roasted potatoes because they are not as dehydrated.
Variety and Flavors:
Keep your meals interesting and satisfying by incorporating a variety of flavors, spices, and herbs. Experiment with different marinades, dressings, seasonings, and sauces to enhance the taste of your meals. This prevents monotony and makes mealtimes more enjoyable.
Storage and Labeling:
Once your meals are prepped, cool them completely before refrigerating or freezing them. Label each container with the date and contents to easily identify them later. Stack containers neatly in the refrigerator or freezer, keeping similar meals together conveniently.
Reheating and Enjoying:
When it's time to eat, grab your prepped meal, heat it, and enjoy! Follow proper reheating instructions to maintain food safety. Depending on your preference, some meals may be enjoyed cold or at room temperature.
Adapt and Adjust:
Be flexible with your meal prep routine. It's okay to adapt and adjust as needed. Some meals may be more suitable for freezing, while others are best enjoyed fresh. Listen to your body and make changes based on your evolving preferences and lifestyle.
Meal Prep Consistency:
Consistency is key when it comes to meal prep. Set aside dedicated time each week for planning and preparation. The more you practice, the easier and more efficient your meal prep routine will become.
Meal prep is a powerful tool that can help you save time, reduce stress, and make healthier choices. By planning your meals, prepping in batches, practicing portion control, and investing in quality containers, you can set yourself up for success. Remember to stay flexible, experiment with flavors, and enjoy the benefits of a well-prepared meal throughout the week. Happy meal prepping!
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