Meal Prepping Tips
Meal prepping, its not just for body builders! Its an affective way to stay organized and be successful with your nutrition plan.
I often like to have meals prepared or partially prepared to make things easier. These practices make packing work lunches and weeknight dinners a breeze. Having foods prepared also reduces the chances of turning to convenience foods when Im hungry and don't have the time or energy to cook something extravagant. These tips are intended to keep you on track with your nutrition plan, save you time and money cooking healthy meals and simplify the whole process.
Some like to take a few hours on a Sunday to prepare a full 4 days of breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week to come all portioned up and ready to go in tupperware. Although theres nothing wrong with this method, I don't do it often because I may not feel like eating the exact same thing again. I may also change my plans and I do not want to waste uneaten food. I do enjoy to cook and prefer to cook my meals as fresh as possible. But if this method works for you, thats great! Choose a day off which you have a few hours to dedicate to preparing some meals for the next 3-5 days ahead.
Here are a few other tips I do like to use when planning meals that save me time and money.
1. Shop with meal goals in mind -
When grocery shopping, I shop for meals I have in mind, not exactly to the day but meals I have been craving or wanting to try.
I will brainstorm 4-5 meals I plan to have that week and make a shopping list of the necessary ingredients. If you have the ingredients for a handful of meals in your house deciding whats for dinner is simple and you'll already have everything gathered. This should also reduce any wasted groceries that were purchased without a specific intention to eat them.
2. Wash and prep veggies ahead of time-
Eating more veggies is one of the most common nutrition recommendations, the problem is often an issue of time with all the washing and chopping.
When you get home from the store, wash, peel and chop all veggies you will plan to use that week, store them in airtight containers in your refrigerator. This saves time when you are ready to cook. If you plan to make some roasted root vegetables, brussel sprouts, broccoli etc, all you'll have to do the night of is place your prepped veggies in a pan with some fat or oil, some sea salt, a few shakes of spices if you like and pop them in the oven. Easy!
If you plan to have salads and everything is already washed and chopped, just layer them up how you like in a bowl and add your dressing and protein source. Easy!
3. Prepare protein ahead -
Bake 4 or so portions of fish, salmon, chicken etc in one go to have ready stored in your fridge for future meals. When its time to eat you can add these to salads or pair with roasted veggies or prepared grains etc.
If theres a marinade on my meat I will also prepare this the day or night before which saves a lot of time and enhances the best flavour.
4. Prepare grains and legumes -
Another salad time saver is cooking a pot of quinoa or another grain you like, cool and store in your fridge. When meal time comes add a scoop of quinoa into a salad or pair with said protein.
Same can be done with cooking legumes/ beans from dry, which are also great additions to salad, soups, chilli, stew...
I like to cook a lot of garbanzo beans in one go and freeze them in bags. I will use them to make hummus, add them to cookies, soup, salad etc.
Many grains and legumes such as rice and black beans digest much better when soaked, you can also leave them in a pot of water overnight and drain them before cooking the day of, this will also reduce cook time.
5. Portion Smoothies -
Prepare in separate tupperware or bags portioned smoothie ingredients to store in your freezer until smoothie time! This may include greens, berries, nut butters and protein powder and/or whatever else your smoothies consists of! All you'll have to do is pop your smoothie portion in the blended, add your liquid and blend before consuming.
I also like to keep a bag of frozen banana chunks in the freezer, whenever a banana is getting too ripe on the counter ill add it to the bag in small chunks without the skin. If I don't use these in a smoothie I may also use them in banana breads.
The same thing can be done with avocado pieces or steamed cauliflower. Frozen cauliflower added to smoothies is actually great - give it a try, its basically tasteless but adds a lot of volume and creaminess without any sugar plus additional vitamins.
6. Cook in batches -
Make leftovers on purpose, for example if we are having a salmon dinner with veggies I will make a few extra portions for lunch the next two days.
Cooking a nice home made meal often takes a lot more time so why not make more and have meals ready for the next days ahead or even think about freezing some portioned meals.
This works very well with slow cooker recipes or things like stews, chilis, curries, soups and bone broths.
My boyfriend also likes to freeze portioned bags of pulled pork he makes in the slow cooker.
Some other things to prepare for future may include home made salad dressing, overnight oats for breakfast, protein energy balls and baked goods which also store well in the freezer.
7. Create meals based on pantry staples and leftovers -
This is a money saver, and waste reducer. Often I see clients trying to make a new meal struggling with having to go out and buy several new ingredients each time.
This is not necessary! Take a quick mental inventory of what you have in the house already such as canned beans, rice, cooked quinoa etc, start there and build your meal. For example, If you have leftover rice and vegetables in the fridge, make a stir fry to use up the vegetables or make a chilli to have with your rice. Turn leftover meat into a soup or stew. If you have leftover salmon, add it to a salad or make a sandwich etc. The possibilities are pretty endless once you get used to creating meals from leftovers.
This may sound like common sense but taking into consideration whats already in the house is often over looked and leftovers get wasted.
8. Pantry staples -
Buying in bulk may cost more initially but you'll save money in the long run. Buy a few things in larger quantities that are versatile with a long shelf life. Keep grains such as rice and quinoa, legumes, lentils, dried beans, whole grain pastas stored in your pantry. Nuts and seeds in your fridge or freezer to keep them fresh.
I like to store such items in large mason jars so I can see exactly what I have on hand, they also seal well, and are easily organized compared to a pile of mix matched bags and boxes these foods normally come in.
Its great to have these non perishable basics on hand so you wont have to buy them new each time you want to cook. You can also start with these as a base for your meals. You could do the same with meats and fish if you have room in the freezer.
I hope some of these ideas can be helpful to you. If you have any other additional tips that you practise please share in comments.
Enjoy and thank you for visiting!