You see it all the time, #mealprep, or "Meal Prep Sunday!" and you either think 2 things: "What a meathead...", or "I can never be that committed...they must be a bodybuilder and super obsessive about their food". Or, you may even be intrigued and want to learn more about what that #mealpreplife is all about. Contrary to what you might percieve, prepping your meals isn't just for bodybuilders, or even super fitness freaks, but instead a sensible and efficient way to be prepared with healthy meals at any instant.
I'm going to start this off by saying I've meal prepped every single week for three years. During some of those times, yes I was prepping for a show or even following a strict meal plan. But during those years, mostly I was just cooking to make sure I had prepaired food when I needed it. I have even experiemented in how to make it the most efficeint. No one has time to cook chicken at 4:00 in the afternoon. So having a full meal of chicken, rice, and veggies was very easy and kept me on track. Even though I don't classify myself as a bodybuilder, prepping my food just makes sense to me. It's a habit that I've engrained in my brain and am so used to. And now, I even have it down to a science.
Contrary to what you might percieve, prepping your meals isn't just for bodybuilders, or even super fitness freaks, but instead a sensible and efficient way to be prepared with healthy meals at any instant.
So you wan't to meal prep?
First, either look at a meal plan you have been given, or plan out your food for the entire week yourself. Then write out your grocery list BEFORE you go to the store. This is important to not get off track and by random things just because they are on sale. I admit I'm guilty of that, but I'm human. Below are staples that I have been buying for a long time in order to make my meal plans. These items change a bit depending on what I'm eating or what I'm prepping for. Also, with this list I am prepping for two people, so I can't afford to buy extra nonsense.
-Liquid egg whites
-93/7 Ground turkey
-A big bag of white rice
-5 lb bag of potatoes (white or sweet)
-A mix between fresh veggies and the steamable bagged ones
-Big tub of oats
-4 to 5 cans of black beans
-Olive oil, coconut oil
-Natural nut butter
-Salsa, hot sauce
My advice: grocery shop on a separate day if you can. This just saves you time to be more effecient. Efficiency is key!
Saturday: Shop, Sunday: Cook. Monday-Saturday: Eat like a champion.
The order that you cook your food, in my opinion, is important. I always cook meat last so I don't contaminate anything.
Veggies: You can cook veggies for a week if you want. If you don't care about texture, then go ahead. I like to eat raw, or cook them at night for the next day. In my experience, broccoli is really the only veggie that stays good stored. With that being said, for fresh veggies, wash and cut them all. You won't want to do that during the weak, and when you're ready to cook for yourself or for your family, no muss no fuss. Steamable veggies are great because you put them in the microwave in the morning, then put them in tupperware and head off to work and save them for later!
prepping my food just makes sense to me. It's a habit that I've engrained in my brain and am so used to. And now, I even have it down to a science.
Potatoes: Preheat your oven first to 400. Chopping a 5lb bag of potatoes takes me roughly 20-30 min. It's a long process, but worth it. After I fill up a baking sheet of chopped potatoes, I throw them in the oven so they can cook while I'm still chopping the rest. I chop them into quaters, halves, or however I'm feeling, spray the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper before I bake. You can season with whatever you want, or not at all. If you don't want to use any salt, they make Salt-free seasonings.
Rice: If you have a rice cooker, great, but I just use a stainless steal pot and it takes 10 min. I cook half a bag. I've really cut the time down on my rice by boiling it on my gas stove, and when the water is almost gone, I simmer the rest. I keep an eye on it, but I do this while my potatoes are cooking.
Oats: no prep here. I just keep a half cup in my tub and when I need them, I just scoop and go. I mostly use oats in a protein shake. So the night before I will put some protein in a shaker and a half cup of oats and I'm good to go.
Black beans: I just open up 2 cans at a time, put them in tupperware, and when I need them, I use the 1/4 cup (or however much you are supposed to have), and just scoop them onto the meal I'm packing.
-Turkey: Cook this first as you can have this on the stove top while cutting your chicken. I just put two pounds in a big skillet with seasoning and cook till it's brown. No science there.
-Chicken: I cut all the fat off of my chicken. For some reason, it just grosses me out, and while this may take extra time, it's wroth it to me and always will be. It's a personal preference. The oven is already preheated from the potatoes. Just bake your chicken, I use glass dishes and I'll tell you why here in a second. You can also crock pot your chicken as well. There are a ton of recipes out there. I'm not a good cook so I can't give you any.
There is really no prepping oils other than measuring 1-2 TBSP depending on what you should be having, and putting them in a tiny tupperware container for your salads or protein shake. Nut butter you can measure, or you can buy the pre-package single serve nut butters (I like Justin's pouches), but this also depends on your budget.
-Okay so now you've made all your food-where to put it? When I lived by myself and was also following a strict meal plan for my first bikini competition I individually weighed everything after I cooked it, and had all meals for the week in their own containers. I would rotate my meals from the freezer to the fridge. I would have 2 meals in the fridge (Monday and Tuesday) and then when Monday was over, I would bring down Wednesday's meal to the fridge so it would be thawed and ready by Wednesday. I loved this approach, it was easy during the weak. However, it does take more time during meal prep day.
I put everything in one big container. All my fresh cut peppers in a big tupperware container, all my potatoes in a big steal baking dish with a cover, and all chicken in a big Pyrex dish. I cook my chicken in the pyrex already, so I don't have to transfer it anywhere...see...efficiency! I also put my rice in one big container as well. I get my food together the night before, take out it out, weigh it, then put it in tupperware. I will put half of what I cook in the freezer to keep it fresh, and when I see we are running low, I bring the frozen food down to the fridge.
Meal prepping can be a family affair. If you have kids, get them involved. Once you do this a few times, you can get it done in under 2 hours. Especially if you have help. Prepping for you family dinners can simply mean cutting all your chicken on Sunday so you just have to cook it on the week nights! It doesn't have to be this fancy and eleaborate ordeal. I encourage you to try it for 1 week and see how much more efficient your days are, and how much better you feel from eating planned and thought out meals, versus whatever junk you see available.
Picture this: You get home from work, kids are being crazy and needing help doing homework. You are starving and it's time for dinner. While you are preheating the oven, you find a cucumber already cleaned and chopped up, and you snack on some cucumbers and hummus. Throw in your already cut chicken breast once the oven is heated, and you have some time to help your kids. All of that took 3 minutes. Leaving way more time for family time. When the chicken is done, and kids finish their homework, you throw some already cooked potatoes in the microwave, make a few salads from already chopped and clean veggies. You put on your already portioned olive oil on your salad, and giving the kids some different dressing they like. This takes 5 minutes.
Dinner is served in 8 minutes, and your family is happy, and you are on track.
Meal prepping isn't just for bodybuilders!
Remember, it's just about being prepaired. No science to it.
If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail!