April 4th, 2017
Meal prepping your meals can take many forms and can be as sophisticated or simple as you would like it to be. Preparing your meals makes it easier to be consistent with your diet. One of the main reasons why someone may not be able to maintain their diet plan is battling hunger and not having food on hand that is convenient to eat, which is why fast food has become our go to over the past 20 years or so. Below are some tips to help get you started with the basics of prepping meals for long term success.
Plan and time: Come up with a plan that will allow you to prepare food for 3,5,6 day intervals. The amount of time you have to dedicate to meal prep will be determined by schedule, lifestyle, family size etc… For instance, if you have to travel out of town most of the week (tips on that later) you might only cook for 3 days so you don’t make food you don’t need and be wasteful. If you have a lot of time on your hands and a full day ahead of you then maybe the 5-6 day option is best. So let’s get started on the details for how much to buy and about how much time it will take. Try to pick one day where you might have 2 hours or so to prep your meals for the week all at once. This may sound a little overwhelming at first but once you do it a little more often it gets easier because you find better ways to refine your techniques.
- Find a day where you can block off 1-2 hours so you can cook everything at once. Make sure everything is thawed beforehand, veggies cut, marinate meat.
- Protein: Add up the portions you would need for the week for protein depending on how many times a day you are eating. So if you are eating 4 times a day and multiply that by days a week 4 meals x 5 days a week would equal about 20 portions or hand size portions of protein. I also split up my protein sources so I get something different throughout the week.
- Carbs: Like protein but cook this in big patches and choose a couple of options like rice, sweet potatoes, carrots etc, and portion out as you go.
- Fats: Since you can get this from oil, nuts/nut butters etc… You can split this up just like you would protein. For instance, if you get 4 meals x 5 days to get 20 servings of fat. You can use 5 servings of oils for cooking protein, 5 for avocados or nuts, 5 of oils for cooking veggies, 5 for dressings etc… This is a little easier if you are prepping your meals all at once.
S.A.P (simple as possible): It is really tough to meal prep in the beginning when you are focused on special recipes that take up so much time and will only last you for 1-2 meals especially if you have a family. So keep it simple. Cook your protein, carbs and fat in the easiest and fastest way possible. If you do use recipes try to double the portions so it lasts a little longer for you. You can cook your food however you feel saves you the most time, don’t over think this part.
Tools of the trade:
- Big pots and pans so you can cook as much food as possible. Fit a lot in the oven.
- Crock pots and instant pots can be used as an oven as well and can be a change of pace for cooking your protein differently (think shredded), slow cooked veggies taste great in this fashion as well.
- Tupperware so you can carry your finished foods with you for the day ahead. You will also need a bag to keep 3-4 meals in for that day.
- Keep back up food around that is easy to either carry with you or have on hand just in case your day gets long or you are not able to get all your meals prepped. This includes having the microwaveable frozen veggies, some lunch meats, prepared soups, canned or pouches of tuna etc…
- Family support is a tool of the trade because they will be the ones you have to cook for. So you will have to come up with a plan that hopefully supports both your endeavors. It’s hard to prep when your son, daughter or husband really wants that cereal in the morning while you need to eat a few egg whites with chicken, and veggies.
The key to success is consistency and meal prepping your meals ahead of time on some level will undoubtedly go a long way in achieving that goal thereby helping you achieve other goals you might be looking to improve upon. You can learn more about meal prep and our new nutrition program at our upcoming nutrition workshops this weekend (4/8 or 4/9) Sign up here!