If your idea of meal prep is buying from the frozen dinner section of the grocery story or having your favorite take-out on speed dial, let's chat for a moment. First, repeat after me: meal prep is possible. Next grab a pencil and paper, you're going to want to write a few things down:
Make a Grocery List (and stick to it)
It really is that simple when you break it down. There are different methods to each approach, but I'm going to stick to what works for me in this blog post!
Whether you are following a specific nutritional plan or simply want to make better choices planning is key. Having food at the ready makes staying fueled throughout the day easy (we all know life gets in the way, so don't overcomplicate it). Every Thursday night my husband and I grab our meal planning notebook (step one: buy a dedicated notebook, stop writing everything down on post-its!) and come up with a menu for the week. We love soups in the winter, salads in the summer, and a daily smoothie is a must in our house! Keep it simple. Find foods you can buy in bulk, fruits and veggies that will keep up to a week, and (most important!) ones you will actually eat.
You're probably thinking 'but what about my favorite cookbooks/recipes?'. Don't fret! You can adapt almost any recipe to your nutritional goals. Some of my favorite cookbooks are:
Make a Grocery List
Our brains are still holding onto our childhood best friend's phone number, don't expect room for your grocery list: step two, write it down.
You can use an app (some grocery stores, like Wegmans, have a list feature right in the app!) or pen and paper it is up to you, all that matters is you can check things off. This will save you time and money at the store!
Let's get cooking! Step three: get into the kitchen. Since you'll be cooking more than you would for your typical meal, here are my tried-and-true ways to get in, get prepped, and get out!
Get all your meals grouped together
Having everything in front of you ensures you don't forget a key ingredient
See what appliances you'll need (oven, stove, air fryer, etc)
Be efficient: use only what you need
Categorize by appliance
I like to keep things moving. If I'm making mushrooms and kale for one meal and then ground beef for another I'll cook the veggies first, toss them in a bowl and then cook the meat in the already heated/seasoned pan. This will save time and energy costs! Same for the oven, put as many things in at once as you can and vary the cooking times as needed.
Once you have a plan, don't stop to think. Start cooking and you'll be done before you know it!
This part it up to you: you can choose to toss everything into your favorite containers and mix and match throughout the week, or you can portion each meal into it's own container so you can grab-and-go. Step four: portion it out! I'm a grab-and-go person; I like to have meals ready to eat when I'm hungry. However, if you like to mix it up you might like the option of bulk prep: you can grab some chicken and quinoa one day, ground turkey and rice the next, etc. Whatever works for you is the best route here!
On average meal prep takes about 2.5 - 3 hours depending on the meals for that week; that means if I start around 10:00 a.m. on Sunday I'm done by 1:00 p.m. Between my husband and I, and the nutrition plan we follow, that's 40 meals prepped and ready to go! It saves time and money (more on the 2nd one in another post); on average that's 5-8 hours a week I'm not in the kitchen cooking and cleaning. You could pick-up a new hobby, make time for that workout program you've been wanting to start, or binge watch Disney +.
Ready to get started? Tag me in your #mealprepmanaged posts on Instagram (I'm @pushupsandpixiedust!). Interested in learning more? Join me for a week long Meal Prep Managed Course, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for full details!