Meal Prep: Where to Start in Just 4 Steps

As a lover of exercise, I tend to slack on the nutrition side of things thinking that if I just burn every calorie I’ll be fine! Newsflash: it just doesn’t work that way. When you hear people say that healthy living and weight management requires 20% (some say 30%) exercise and 80% nutrition, believe them. Especially as we get older, our health and waistlines truly start to mirror what we put in our bodies. If you eat clean, lean foods, it will show. If you eat fatty, non-nutritious foods, you’ll start to see that on the outside as well.

If you’re looking to improve your nutrition, one of the best ways to keep your meals in check is through meal prep. It’s a not-so-new phenomenon that your mom probably used when she baked a huge pot roast at the beginning of the week and served it up in multiple variations all week long. With meal prep, you can prepare all your foods for the week so that there are no surprises, fewer temptations, and lots of healthy, delicious foods to eat all week long! If you don’t know where to start with meal prepping, keep on reading for 4 steps to get you on your way!

Step 1: Make a Menu

This step is similar to writing an outline before you dive into a serious essay. The easiest way to figure out what foods to put on your grocery list is to make a menu of several dishes you want during the week. I like to make two large dinner options, a light lunch, and keep breakfast really simple. Make sure your menu covers you for about 5 days, which means 5 breakfasts, 5 or 10 snacks, 5 lunches, and 5 dinners. For breakfast, you could make a pot of oatmeal, or bag up smoothie ingredients for 5 days. For lunch, you could make a large soup and add a salad, or use the protein from your dinner to top a salad or sandwich. I usually grab a few pieces of fruit or yogurt for snacks, and sometimes a few protein bars to jazz it up. Then for dinner, I always make two dishes, like a large piece of fish, and several chicken breasts because I don’t like to eat the same dinner 5 days straight. And there you have it! Your menu can be as fancy or simple as you want it. Here’s my most basic meal plan menu below:

  • Sample Menu:
    • Breakfast: Crockpot Oatmeal; Green Smoothie (5 days)
    • Snacks: Assorted Fruit, Nuts and Yogurt; Boiled Eggs (5 days)
    • Lunch: Salad with Chicken; Turkey Burger with salad (5 days)
    • Dinner: Salmon, Green Beans, and Couscous; Turkey Chili w/ Spinach (2-3 days each)

Step 2: Buy Groceries (and containers)

Once you have your menu, grocery shopping is a breeze. Before you go shopping,  jot down all the ingredients you need, and make sure that you purchase quantities that will last you all week! Also, you’ll want to purchase enough containers to hold each meal separately so that everything is already pre-portioned for you all week long. I like glass containers as they are better in the microwave, and easy to clean! You can buy a whole set at Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Step 3: Get to Cookin’

This step is simple enough. Most people cook everything on Sunday and some split it up. I usually do my cooking on Saturday, but save some crockpot/slow cooker item for Sunday (I only have one crockpot people!) Whenever you decide to do it, just be prepared to be cooking for a while (typically for 2-3 hours). Especially if you make a number of meals like I do, since I’m not a fan of 6th time leftovers. But the beauty in meal prep is that it’s all up to you!

Step 4: Pack it Up and Put a Label on It (if that’s what you’re into) meal prep

This is the last and most important step. The way you package your food will be essential to sticking to your meal plan, and making sure everything lasts you all week. Sometimes I make the mistake of keeping my chili stored in the Crock Pot and serve it up as I like. This never, ever works for portion control. Instead you should pack entire meals separately, if you can. For example, I’ll put one serving of chili and spinach in the same container and pack up three separate containers of that meal combination. If you are using your dinner  item (turkey burger) with salad for lunch, pack up a small amount of the dinner item and then pack the dry salad ingredients together. If you really want to stay on track, it can be a huge help to label your containers by the day of the week. That way, you may deter yourself from eating Thursday’s dinner as seconds on Tuesday night. I personally do not label my containers, but it would only help me at this point!

 

What are some of your meal prep tricks?

Any favorite recipes that you like to use for a big batch of food?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

Until next time, keep it moving (and cooking)!

~Sharita Fit

 

Copyright   GetFitLikeThat.com  September 2015

 

Comments 9

  1. October 1, 2015

    Great tips! I’m all about meal prep. When it comes to lunch, I just bring my groceries to work, keep it in the communal fridge and make a fresh salad every day. I like that better than making 5 salads at once taking up room in my fridge.

  2. October 1, 2015

    I don’t prep on the weekends since I work from home, but often on weekdays I’ll have two or three crockpots going. I also try to always cook more meat than I need in a recipe so I always have things in the freezer that can be combined as a last minute meal.

    1. Sharita Fit
      October 6, 2015

      Wow multiple crock pots must be a lifesaver! Thanks for your comment!

  3. October 1, 2015

    I try really hard to stick to my grocery list when I’m at the store. That way, I won’t be tempted to buy processed junk that I shouldn’t be eating.

  4. October 1, 2015

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I am terrible at food prepping. I do eat/make dinner at home every night though but having a menu would definitely make it a lot easier!

  5. October 1, 2015

    This is such great advice I so need to take cuz meal prep around here is totally seat-of-the-pants. Your meals look great too!

  6. October 2, 2015

    This is such a great guide on how to meal prep! I was really good abut meal planning for awhile, but I’ve never prepped everything in separate containers. I’ll have to give it a shot and see how it goes!

  7. October 2, 2015

    Great meal prep tips! If you fail to plan you plan to fail. Meal planning is the perfect way to stay on track.

  8. October 2, 2015

    Labels you say?!?! Hmm good idea. Every morning my bf asks me which lunches are for him and which ones are for me even though I point them out at the beginning of the week.

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