Today’s lesson is going to be how to meal prep.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “I like variety in my food”, or “I don’t have time to meal prep”, or even my all time favorite, “doesn’t that cost a lot of money”?
The answer? No. Not really. Keep reading.
The reality is that meal prepping has saved me an average of 7 hours a week since I started doing it and I don’t know about you personally, it could be the case that you have an abundance of free time, but I don’t.
Preparing your food ahead of time is something that can add time to your life, give you a little more freedom, and make you healthier. So I’ve put together this step by step guide of all the things you need to start meal prepping today.
You’ll learn about:
- Making an ingredient list
- Conquering grocery shopping
- Cooking Stuff
- Storing Things
- The benefits of the prep
Also, if you read all the way to the end you’ll get a few of my well kept meal prepping pro tips.
Now, without further ado, let’s get started.
1.Make A List Of Necessary Ingredients
You’re going to want to make a list for the same reason you would when you go grocery shopping, it helps you keep track of things. All of the things that you need to get so you don’t end up with no food, or come out of the store with a million things you don’t know.
Admit it, we’ve all done it.
A good way to put together a list is to think of each meal prep item in terms of lunch, breakfast, dinner, or a snack. That way you can group all of your food together and have a cohesive plan instead of getting a bunch of items that are completely unrelated but sound tasty.
In your list you’re going to want to include:
- A column for the name of the food item
- How much of it you’re going to need
- What meal (s) you’re going to use for it.
Make sure to sit down and take some time to brainstorm about this because you are going to need it to be pretty thorough if the whole meal prep thing is going to work out.
At first write down as many ingredients as you can think of because this is your first time and you might not have a good idea of what you’re used to eating, what you might need, or what’s best nutrition wise.
You can always take items off later or regroup them at another time if you’re not sure what to keep or if you’re concerned about not knowing what to put down.
And that’s about it. First step = crushed. You’re killin it.
Now, onto my favorite part of the whole meal prepping experience: going shopping.
2. Grocery Store Adventures
Ahh yes, the grocery store.
This is every chef, foodie, gym rat, and hungry child’s playground. When it comes to prepping your food, this is your promised land.
The biggest thing to keep in mind when you’re adventuring in the grocery store is to bring that list that you made. If you forgot it or you left it in the car, immediately stop what you’re doing and go back and get it. This is not a drill, or a joke, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
If you forget the list then you’re likely to go off on a random trail of purchasing and down a rabbit hole of despair and money not well spent. Trust me.
But, if you did remember your list, then let’s proceed.
Alright, at this point you’re probably wandering around the grocery store, like a puppy in a chew toy factory. Excited, with a promising future, but mainly just jumping up and down and running in random directions at all of the wonderful new things in front of you.
That ends now. I’m here to walk you through something i’ve created call the grocery floor map.
The basic idea behind this is to create a map of every grocery item in the store and have the location of each predetermined before you get into the store. Plan the map to be able to get to each item in the most logical order so that you’re only taking one lap around the entire store. Doing so will maximize the amount of groceries you’re able to get in the shortest period of time possible.
Once you’ve mastered this it will take even more time off of the monthly total that you spend towards getting your foodstuffs ready for consumption.
Also, remember what you’re here for. No grabbing candy bars at the checkout aisle, running over to check out the latest pair of pants at your local Walmart, or even getting inspired if you see another ingredient that you think you might like.
You’re meal prepping. Things are different now.
As for the amount of each grocery item that you’ll need, I find that it’s easiest to prep for one week out. This will ensure that you aren’t going back to the store too frequently throughout the month, but also keep food waste to a minimum as well.
Only having to go to the grocery store about four times a month is pretty reasonable for anyone. As an added bonus, in the event that you do forget something, you don’t have to go back to the store immediately, because you only have to go another week before it’s time to restock.
It’s a win-win.
On to the next step!
3. Preparing Your Meal (Kitchen Work)
For those of you out there who love cooking a good meal, this is going to be an amazing, exciting, and challenging experience. You’re going to get to cook a whole lot of different kinds of food at once, and without any limits.
But for those of you who don’t like cooking… It’s probably going to suck a little.
The plain and simple truth is, that you’re going to have to spend a few hours preparing your meals for the upcoming week. There’s just no way around it.
If you want the added benefits of saving time and adding convenience for the west of the week, then you have to bite the bullet for now. But after you suffer through this and accept it as truth, you will have freed up a significant amount of time during your week.
This, i’m sure, will make you happy.
To start, just like making your list in step 1, you’re going to have to write down everything that you’ll need to make your meals. This is going to include all of your pots, pans, oils, utensils, ovens, blenders, and anything else you can think of.
Getting this all out of the way first will save you time during the cooking process and ensure that you don’t freak out midway through cooking and burn and or ruin something while frantically searching for a pasta spoon.
Just a few things to keep in mind for all of you who have never power cooked like this before.
- First, you’re going to start off with things that you might have to cook at a lower temperature and for longer periods of time. These might include: Rice, pasta, or couscous, if you’re into that sort of thing.
- Second, if you’re cooking any sort of meat (which I definitely recommend), you need to cook that next. It’s going to require the a good amount of time as well, and will probably need the majority of your attention.
- Lastly, you’re going to cook your veggies. These can generally be cooked pretty quickly and you’re not going to need that much attention so you can finish them after every other dish.
All of your snacks can be made after afterwards. They don’t require much cooking or preparation usually so get to them once you’ve properly created your staples.
Perfect. Now is the easy part, you just have to cook a good meal in any way that you like. Get creative, use spices, natural ingredients, and play around with what works best for you.
4. Storing Your Newly Prepared Foodstuffs
Oh yes, there’s nothing like having 8.2 million separated Tupperware containers crammed in your kitchen cabinets. Or at least that’s what most of us think of when we think of meal prepping. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The first secret is to get containers with lids that are actually attached to the containers themselves. That way, you’re pretty much guaranteed not to lose them. These are ones that I use personally and would definitely recommend.
Second tip, make sure you have food prep containers of various sizes that stack into each other so you don’t spend hours trying to cram each one into every nook and cranny in your kitchen.
Third tip, get 3 groups of containers that are different colors. This will help you keep track of which containers and lids go where, and will make keeping track of them much easier!
And last but not least, make sure you acquire some good and sturdy containers. These should be dishwasher friendly, fairly durable, and something you can keep for a long time (once you start prepping, you never go back). Something like these should do the trick.
When you are storing the meals you’ve just recently prepped, keep in mind that the entire point of meal prepping is to save time. So make sure to properly portion out and wrap up every single thing you’ve made or plan on eating throughout the week.
That trail mix? Throw it in 6 plastic bags.
Those 5 chicken breasts you’ve grilled to perfection? Cut them up into cubes and put them into 5 separate designated meal prep containers for the week.
Your milk and cereal for breakfast? Pre pour it into five 12 oz cups (Just kidding. You aren’t ready for that level of meal prep just yet).
Make sure that you keep necessary items refrigerated and frozen that are perishable. You’re going to be making food for a whole week, which is definitely not going to last if you leave it on the counter.
One last step to go…
5. Enjoy The Benefits
Congrats! You’re basically John Cena now!
Okay not really, but you’re definitely a meal preppin’ champ.
Just in case you’re still not convinced about why meal prepping might be for you, here are the four biggest and proven benefits to meal prepping:
- Saves you time – As I said in the beginning of this post, I open up an average of 7 hours a week just by taking the time to meal prep one day out of the week. For next level prepping, figure out a day each week that will work best and set that aside as meal making time.
- You’ll look better naked – Seriously, you will. Meal prepping for weight loss is a real thing because it allows you to portion out your meals correctly ahead of time with food that you make sure is good for you. It will help curb those fast food on the way home from work because you’re tired moments.
- More energy – With getting your predetermined and proper amounts of nutrients, vitamins, and varied food groups, you will start to notice that you’ll have more energy. Structuring a set amount of meals throughout the day will help give you a consistent caloric intake which will help keep your batteries charged.
- Keep your pockets full (of money) – This is perhaps my personal favorite benefit of stepping into the light, you really do save money. When you go out to eat often, even if it’s just “cheap” fast food, you’re still likely spending more total money than it would cost to purchase and cook the ingredients yourself. You’re basically just paying for convenience.
So feel good about what you’ve done you time efficient, in shape, energized, and financially stable stud.
Oh yeah…one more thing…
MEGA BONUS: MEAL PREP IDEAS
I said i’d have it ready for you if you made it this far. So congratulations.
What i’m going to do now is outline my favorite meal prep ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and both of my snacks throughout the day.
Let’s do this.
- Apples, Oranges, Bannas
- Smoothie, pre mixed and stored in the refrigerator
- Oatmeal, berries, peanut buttur, flax seed
- Bagel & low fat cream cheese
- Healthy breakfast burritos
- Turkey sausage, potatoes, eggs, tomatoes
- Oatmeal with berries and cinnamon
- Trail mix
- Hummus & carrots
- Celery and peanut butter
- Lunch Veggie smoothy
- Carrot juice, kale, cranberry juice,
- Homeade peanut butter granola bar
- Homemade guacamole + corn chips
- Kale salad
- Crainberries, worshester sauce, balsalmic, chicken, low fat, low sodium croutons, parmesean
- Stir fry
- Brown rice, bell peppers, red peppers, celery, shrimp
- Brussel sprouts
- Steak bites/carne asada tacos
- Homemade spicy mac and cheese
Also, check out this meal prep idea megalist for more inspiration. Happy prepping everyone!