What is meal prep? It is preparing your meals in advance to organize yourself and your family for the days/week ahead so that you don’t ruin a healthy eating routine by turning to convenience, high fat/sugar options, such as a bag of chips or a candy bar.
This goes along with the philosophy: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Eating healthy is all about planning and having those healthier choices available for you to turn to when you are hungry. A way to make sure you stay on track is, of course, by making sure there is a plan in place.
Ways meal prep can be beneficial:
- You always have something healthy to grab and go. No more excuses like, “I don’t have time” during the mid-week rush.
- You will feel better when you eat better
- You will save money by making your own food and bringing it for lunch instead of going out to lunch every day.
- Home cooked meals tend to be a lot healthier than eating out, especially if you take the time to read labels of the items your purchase and educate yourself on healthier options.
- You know exactly what is going in and on your food and ultimately into your body.
- Ease of mind as you don’t have to stress about what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner – you’ve already done the brain work at the beginning of the week.
- It can save you the total cooking time for meals after getting home from a busy day.
How to meal prep:
Plan a few hours for this total process:
Step 1: Find recipes for the upcoming week and make a grocery list of everything you need. I like to separate my list by the different departments in the grocery store, to ensure I don’t forget anything: Produce, Meat/Seafood, Grocery, Diary, and Frozen.
Step 2: Go Shopping! Purchase your products from the grocery store. Invest some time reading labels and educating yourself on different options so you can make the best choice, if you have yet to do so.
Once you get home, you will begin the meal prep process. This can vary based on what you are looking for. Some individuals prep everything for the week ahead. This includes cooking meats, slicing/dicing vegetable and fruits, cooking grains and making the actual meals for the entire week. You can even portion your complete meals into storage containers that you will just need to reheat throughout the week. The other options would be to meal prep part or most of your ingredients so that you can throw meals together quickly day by day.
Here are some of my recommendations to get you started:
Step 3: Wash produce. Slice and or dice, as needed, for both snacks and for recipes. Use storage bags to store washed/cut produce. They will be quick to grab for all lunches, quick snacks, and will be ready to throw into a recipes and will make you feel like Rachel Ray in the kitchen.
Step 4: Cook all meat products you will utilize in recipes that call for precooked meats. For example, soups, casseroles, tacos, toppings for pizza (example: BBQ chicken). Like the cut produce, it will be easy to construct a meal by reheating your meats and building your meals quickly.
Step 5: Cook all beans and whole grains. These can be prepped in bulk, are freezer friendly, and can be stored for a long time.
See this additional list for ideas of items you can prep ahead to have on hand:
- Beans: simply cook them, let them cool completely and put into freezer safe containers. When you are ready to use them, defrost for a few minutes and add into the recipe you need!
- Soups/casseroles: make double batches and freeze half. In a couple weeks when you don’t have time to prep a meal, you can pull out the leftovers.
- Hard boiled eggs: for quick easy breakfast, snacks, or toppings to salads
- Trail mix: mix together your favorite nuts, dried whole grain cereals and dried fruits for a snack.
*It is important to decide which day will be your prep day – try to be consistent as any gaps in your schedule will increase your chances of not being prepared.
If you are totally confused or want additional assistance – I’m here for you! Schedule a wellness consult with me where we can meet at your local Martin's Super Markets.