Thanks for stopping by! I’ve had many questions lately about “how do you meal prep” or “I don’t know where to start.” Sound like you? Then read on and check out my tips!
First of all, there is no RIGHT way or WRONG way to meal prep. This is just the way I find works for my family! If you want to have a sustainable long term result, just like in fitness, it just has to work for you and your lifestyle!
Try one way, if that doesn’t work, try again! Trial and error is a big part of it, so don’t get discouraged!
What works for my family might not work for your family. We have 3 people in our family, so it's a bit easier for me to plan and prep. Now, do I do this all of the time, HECK no! But, when I know we are going to be on the go or I personally want to keep my nutrition in check, that’s when I do it.
Like any other task on the to do list (which I know there are many!) it doesn’t need to be too daunting. Start slow and simple and work your way into more kinds of meal prepping ways. For me, looking into a fridge and searching for something healthy is stressful if it's not prepped. And some of the stress eating or emotional eating we hear of comes from that, and that’s not what we want! Meal prepping helps you to NOT reach for those unhealthy snacks!
Step 1: Make a Plan
Before anything, you should always have a plan. Start slow and simple. Make a list of things you eat throughout the week on a regular basis. Strawberries, blueberries, lettuce, apples and assorted veggies are a few that ALWAYS make our list.
Choose your recipes. Choose simple recipes that you know your whole family will love. For example, Oatmeal, Waffles/Pancakes, Tacos, Fajitas, Soups… If there is a recipe that you know your family loves, but really isn’t the healthiest one, try some substitutes! Gradually work healthier ingredients into the recipe. Swapping out the tortilla shell with a lettuce leaf, making your own taco seasoning without all the junk are just a few ideas to try.
Write your menu on a dry erase calendar, use pen and paper, or if you love DIY things try a picture frame with a sheet of paper in it and make the days of the week into sections with a dry erase marker, then write your menu!
Make your grocery list and go shopping! This is where that list of ingredients and menu comes in handy! You don’t want to go to the grocery store not knowing what to buy because that is when things you don’t need start ending up in your cart!
TIP: The outer perimeter of most grocery stores is usually the freshest and healthiest foods! Inner portion is usually where we find our processed goods. Also, save your meal plans for reference in future weeks.
I adopted the 21 Day Fix Portion Fix container system into my meal planning a while back. For me personally, this is what a typical week looks like. Each container is color coded to a certain food category and the calendar is labeled according to color. I also include the boxes to check off for my container counts as well as water.
Step 2: Prepping
Here’s where it gets a little easier, just time consuming. You do not have to cook all of your meals for the week from start to finish. Meal prep can be as simple as washing and cutting up fruits and veggies ahead of time. You can also portion these out into little containers or baggies for healthy grab and go snacks. This saves time and keeps you from overeating on those particular snacks.
Another way to prep for meals is pre-cooking meat in bulk. In my opinion, some meats are better cooked at the time of meal, like fish. Others you can prepare in advance and sometimes even freeze for future meals. I sometimes like to bake chicken breasts, or cook them in the crockpot to shred. Shredded chicken is so versatile. You can add seasonings right away, or you can add seasonings according to the meal on your menu and heat it. I use shredded chicken on Salads, Tacos, Fajitas, and Soups.
TIP: I always buy a Rotisserie Chicken and have on hand to use in multiple recipes. Sometimes the work is already done for you. Just be sure to check ingredients/nutritional facts.
Some people like to prepare overnight oats or just a big batch of oatmeal and portion it out. I sometimes do this and I can eat off it all week. Lately, I’ve been eating eggs after my workout each morning. So, I usually have broccoli, peppers, spinach/kale, tomatoes, etc. already chopped or cleaned ready for me to use in an egg scramble. Then all I have to do is add it to the pan, crack two eggs, and season. I usually have fruit with my eggs, so I always make sure its ready to go as well.
Heres where I have had trouble before. I would have things prepared and eat them, only to go over my containers for the day once dinner came around. So, I’ve swapped it out for my Shakeology, a superfood and phytonutrient dense shake for lunch paired with fruit or veggie. So switch things up once in a while to see what helps you stay on track!
Pre-portioned snack bags or containers come in handy here! No thinking, just grab and go! Fruits, Veggies, Nuts/Seeds, etc.
Usually dinner is freshly made, but sometimes convenience is nice. This is where prepared chicken I’ve cooked or rotisserie chicken makes things easier.
Step 3: Recap & Repeat
That’s it! For me, I like to keep things simple. So, take a Sunday afternoon or a day that works for you and try to do some things to help you have a successful week. Then the next week, reflect back on what you liked and didn’t like or if things went to waste and re-write your plan. It just takes a little effort!