Meal Prep 101
Originally Published: Feb 15, 2018
Your guide to kick-starting your meal prep journey.
So you’ve decided to start meal prepping. What we do in the kitchen can be equally, if not more important, than our habits in the gym. Meal prep is a great way to make sure you’re supporting your hard work in the gym with a complementary diet. We’ll break this down into four easy steps to start you off on the right foot. The basics of meal prepping include:
- Setting your goals
- Planning your meals
- Actual preparation
Goal Setting: The first stage in any meal prep journey is determining what your goals are going to be. This will help determine the structure of your meals. Are you looking to gain lean muscle? Lose body fat? Maintain your current weight? Or even just spend less time cooking? Whether you’re looking to gain, lose, or maintain, your meals should always include at least one lean meat, one vegetable and one carbohydrate.
Planning your meals: With the aforementioned structure in mind, make a list of proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables that you enjoy. The goals you set will determine the proportion of each of the macro-nutrients that you will need in each meal. We have listed some below. Put together two to three meals using those ingredients that you would like to make for the week ahead. Start simple. Remember that chicken breast, brown rice and broccoli is always a safe place to start. Begin there and start mixing it up once that becomes easy for you. Feel free to include fruits as well! Healthy fats are also an important part of a balanced diet. Together with protein and carbohydrates, they make up the three macro-nutrients that constitute a healthy diet. A list of healthy fats can be found below. Be sure to include these sparingly, but remember, these healthy fats are good for you in moderation!
Ground Beef (90% Lean)
You can prep for any meal of the day. Prep smoothies or overnight oats for breakfast. Salads are an easy, no-fuss lunch option. Salmon, ground turkey, and steak are all great ways to mix it up for dinner. Don’t forget the snacks! Snack time is often where even the best plans can go awry, because it’s so easy to grab a bag of chips or a sugary granola bar. Be sure to have some fruit or nuts on standby when the afternoon hunger strikes.
Shopping: Write a grocery list and stick to it! This pertains to grocery shopping trips any time, but especially when meal prepping. Buy exactly what you need and only what you need. Tip: If you stick to the outside aisles of the grocery stores, that tends to be where the meat, veggies, fruits and dairy are located! Stay there and you’ll avoid the temptation of all of the snacks and desserts that can be found on the inner aisles.
Before your first meal prep experience, you’ll need to make sure you have the correct containers. Look for glass or BPA free plastic containers that are dishwasher safe, freezer safe and microwave safe. Here are some great glass and plastic options to get you started. Because portion control can make or break a healthy diet, you may also want to purchase a kitchen scale. This will help you make exact measurements with your food and adhere to your goals as closely as possible.
Preparation: Pick a day and time that works best for you. Whether that’s one day after work or a Sunday afternoon. Take advantage of appliances that will help you cook in larger quantities. Crock-pots and Instant Pots are a great place to start. Get one meal started in the crock-pot and you can focus on getting another in the oven. There are tons of recipes online catered to your specific goals. We’ve included downloadable recipe cards for a few of our favorite recipes to help get you started. Some other great recipe options include Mediterranean Power Bowl, Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas and Quinoa Kale Power Bowl. The great thing about meal prep is you can prep one meal a day, or five. You can prep for three days or three weeks! Just be sure to throw it in the freezer if you won’t be able to eat it within a day or two so you can pull it out when you’re ready to eat.