7 Insider Tips to Slay Meal Prep
Written by Sara Frenza (@sara_frenza), Nutrition and Body Transformation Coach
Article Photos featuring Sara Frenza, by Snappy Goode
Everyone wants to look amazing and feel energized, but we all know this takes work. If it was easy, everyone would be at their peak of optimal health. It may take a little bit of effort to meal prep, but it certainly doesn’t have to be complicated and the truth is, it actually cuts down on work in the kitchen throughout your week.
I’m about to take the mystery out of meal prep and show you how it can really be quite quick and simple with seven steps. So, let’s dive into meal prepping, to not only hit your body goals but also to reduce time spent in the kitchen, cost of food, and even your carbon footprint by limiting food waste. That’s undeniably a win-win-win… win! It just doesn’t get better than that.
The Two Basic Approaches to Meal Prep
One: Spend your Saturday or Sunday (or any other day you have a few hours of free time) preparing and storing your meals for the coming week or days.
Two: Spread your meal prep over the course of the week. For example, Sunday and mid-week, so it becomes a continual process.
You really can follow EITHER approach—whichever works best for you and your lifestyle.
Step 1: Plan, Plan, Plan
I have been meal prepping for years, and let me tell you, it seriously takes the stress out of staying on a nutritional plan. Which is the keyword there in all regards, “plan.” Plan to succeed by getting your meals ready— whether it’s at the beginning, end, or middle of the week. Write out your grocery list and get everything you need in one shot so you can meal prep like a boss. You’ll have an easier go of hitting your body composition goals, because you won’t be reaching for snacks off the cuff when you’re hangry (in fact, you’ll never get hangry in the first place when you’ve got your meals all organized and ready to grab on the go). You’ll also ultimately save time and energy when you’re not in the kitchen cooking for every meal.
BONUS: When you plan ahead, you won’t find yourself running in and out of the supermarket a million times a week. Because who’s got time for that?
Step 2: Batch Cook
Batch cooking is what it sounds like—you’re cooking in large batches all at once (or perhaps twice a week if you prefer, as previously suggested) so that what you prep can be then be divided out across different meals in appropriately portioned containers. I always like to prep a big batch of two proteins and two carbs.
Ex: ground turkey, shredded chicken, rice, and sweet potato. The ground turkey can be pan fried and the shredded chicken can be cooked in a crock pot or pressure cooker. Prepare the sweet potatoes in an air fryer for that extra delicious crispiness, and prep the brown rice in a pressure cooker or Instapot—it’s quick and easy.
Step 3: Carbs and Protein
Now, with the protein and carbs you’ve cooked, you have the option to prep three or four different meal options, because who wants to eat the same thing day in and day out? Not THIS girl, and I would bet you feel the same way. Here are a few mouth-watering meals I absolutely adore eating on the regular that you may want to give a try as well:
- Stuffed peppers—use your ground turkey and rice
- Buffalo chicken dip—use your shredded chicken, and have your sweet potato on the side to dip if you prefer
- Chicken stir fry—use your shredded chicken and rice
- Egg roll in a bowl—use your ground turkey and rice
Step 4: Freeze your food
This one’s a no brainer. Freeze some of the food you’ve batch cooked so you can save it for the days and even weeks to come. When you freeze food you’re basically freezing the expiration date as well, for a time, which in the end will just make your life so much easier if, say, you come across a week when you’re just jammed for time and can’t even spare a few hours to batch cook.
My thoughts: shredded chicken, stuffed peppers, and extra ground beef or ground turkey can all be frozen, so batch cook appropriately if you want to freeze some extra food for future you. You’ll thank yourself!
Step 5: Portion Control
You’ll want to be sure you’ve got the appropriately sized containers for food storage during the week. I love to use glass portion-sized containers (healthier than plastic and can be nuked without using a new dish). Appropriately sized containers mean there is really no wasted space in my containers or refrigerator, or guess work on how much I should eat when I go to grab my meals.
To do this, I weigh my cooked food so I know exactly what my portion sizes are. A food weigh scale is relatively inexpensive but one of those kitchen items that’s just a fantastic investment. I use mine constantly! When you guesstimate your portion sizes, it’s easy to over- or underestimate, and then you’ve got the issue of either not eating enough calories to sustain your energy levels when you’re training hard, or you’re eating too many calories, putting you over your daily caloric intake for weight maintenance or loss (if that’s your end goal).
Step 6: Fruits & Veggies
Let’s not forget about our fruits and veg—essential components to any healthy and balanced lifestyle. Pre-chop your fruits and veggies so they’re ready to add to any meal you’ve decided on. For fruit, I have an incredible peach cobbler recipe for you that I think you’ll absolutely love. When it comes to veggies, these can also be frozen so feel free to prep these alongside your protein and carbohydrates. Also, you can always use frozen fruits or veggies in a pinch for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Step 7: Get Creative with Breakie
I have so much fun getting creative with breakfast, and you can too. A few things I enjoy making are egg bites, protein muffins, and protein pancakes. Any of these options just start the day off on a satisfying and energizing note. For egg bites, be sure to chop up and throw in your favorite veggies, consider adding blueberries or strawberries to your protein pancakes, and maybe include even bran flakes for added fiber to your protein muffins. Yummy (and healthy!).
However you choose to prep your meals, just know you’re giving yourself a leg up when it comes to hitting your body composition goals, because your body is truly impacted in a huge way by what you do in the kitchen—so do yourself a solid and meal prep. It’s easier than you think, it saves you time and energy, it’s cost-effective, and it reduces your carbon footprint with less food waste. You really can’t lose.
Looking to try the recipes suggested in this article? They can be found here, as a fitclub member exclusive. Not a fitclub member? Sign up now.