The saying “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” is SO true when it comes to meal prepping. I find that when I don’t have my meals planned AND prepared ahead of time, I am more likely to eat things that do not fit into my lifestyle. Meal prepping really satisfies me because I know what I’m eating, how much, and that I will feel great not only about the food content but because everything has been planned.
I have meal prepped on and off over the last 7 years, and now I am back to prepping full force. I will write a health/food/fitness update focusing more on my story at a later date, but the short story is that after being paleo, then vegan, then just dairy free….I’ve really learned that I cannot be so restrictive with my lifestyle. As of right now, I do not eat any dairy for health and moral issues, however I am no longer vegan. I’ve started counting my macros and hired a nutritionist and fitness coach and it has been really life changing so far. Knowing exactly how much protein, carbs, and fat to consume for my body weight and goals has opened my eyes even more to what I am eating and what the results are.
First things first…where to start.
Meal-Prep Sundays is a thing in the fitness industry, and Sunday works really well for me too, because I like to prep for the week ahead on Sundays. Whatever day works best for you – pick it! I know how much protein, fat, and carbs that I need to be eating daily, and I create a grocery list each week based off of this information. It is different for everyone. If you are interested in finding out what your macros are for free, this tool is the most accurate FREE tool online. I usually go grocery shopping for four days worth of meals – 6 meals/snacks total per day. They are not all big meals – I know that sounds like a lot! Do what makes you most comfortable. If you’re just starting out, I’d suggest starting with two days of meal prepping until you get in to the swing of it.
2) Invest in the right meal prep items
The obvious items for meal prepping are containers. I own containers of all shapes and sizes, and it is definitely easiest to use the same shape and sized containers for all of your like-meals. For example, for all dinners, use the same containers. This makes it really easy to stack them up in the fridge without it looking like a complete disaster. THESE are my favorite containers. They are glass with BPA free lids. I can fit a pretty good sized meal in these.
I couldn’t live without my Nutri-Ninja. If you like smoothies or make lots of soups, this baby is going to be your best friend.
If you’re interested in meal prepping, you’re most likely on the healthy eating bandwagon, so I would suggest investing in a spiralizer. I use THIS one to spiralize zucchini, summer squash, carrots, and more. Using a spiralizer is such a time saver for making paleo pastas.
Lastly, a food scale is an item that is essential if you are counting macros. Before I really had no idea how many ounces of each food item I was eating, and having THIS scale has made my life so much easier.
3) How to prepare your meals
My go-to items when I go shopping are:
+ Protein: lean ground turkey, salmon, shrimp, and tuna
+ Carbohydrates: Gluten free oats, lentil pasta, and brown rice bread. Side note: Vegetables ARE carbs, so I count these in as well.
+ Healthy fats: Almonds, pumpkin seeds, avocado, olive oil, earth balance “butter”, coconut oil, and almond butter.
For most of my vegetables, I prepare those when I am actually going to sit down and eat because I love the crispy-ness. For leafy greens, I chop, weigh, and put each serving in to a container for salads. I prepare my veggies before proteins.
Cooking protein: Always prepare ground turkey/salmon on high heat with coconut oil on the stove. When cooking ground meat, wait until it is browned to add seasoning. This way, it is so much more flavorful than adding it in when the meat is raw.
…That’s it! Add your meals to each container, stash away in the fridge, and you’re golden. It really is so easy.
I’m always looking to learn new meal prep tips! Share with me in the comments if you have any!