6.02.2016

Meal Prep 101


Meal prep can seem overwhelming if you've never done it before, or boring and time intensive if it's part of your normal routine. I thought I would share my approach to weekly meal prep, and include some tips along the way! Normally, I liked to do my meal prep on Sundays, but you could pick any day of the week that works with your schedule, consistency and planning is key.

Step 1-Decide what you want to eat

There are a lot of great websites out there like bodybuilding.com, fitmencook.com, and even foodnetwork.com has a healthy eating section that can be great resources. Pick out a few recipes that have protein + complex carbohydrates + fat + non-starchy vegetables. You can also build meals based on the food lists I have included below, it is by no means all-inclusive or perfect, but it is a good place to start for most.

Step 2- Figure out what you need, and make a grocery list. 

Once you know what you want to cook, check your fridge and pantry so you don't overbuy items. If you have a Costco membership, or another bulk memberships store you can save a lot of money buying bulk ingredients like rice, cooking oil, or spices. 

Step 3- Once you have your list, go shopping. 

Insider tip*-never go grocery shopping hungry, you will overbuy and pick out more indulgent items! 

Step 4- Set aside an hour or two to cook and prep your meals. 

I know it's not very fun to devote a few hours on a hard-earned weekend to planning out meals, but ultimately meal prepping is what it takes for most people to reach their fitness and weight loss goals. With that in mind, it's important to have enough containers for the number of meals you want to make. I like the Pyrex kind, because the base is made from glass, meaning it can be used as a baking dish in the oven, put in the freezer, microwaved, and are BPA free. I also like the plastic ones that come with the Isobag (my boyfriend and I just each bought our own 6 meal bags, and they are pretty cool). Those containers are also BPA free, and microwave/dishwasher safe.

Below, I have a list of foods you can use to prep your meals, for general health and fitness I recommend using the formula 1 part protein + 1 part complex carbohydrate + 1-2 part non-starch vegetables + 1 small serving healthy fat = 1 meal. Based on your fitness goals and height/weight gender the portions can look really different. I will include an example for myself, 6'0" female, about 140 lbs, 28 years, and active with ectomorph body type. I say "1 part" because portions will vary person to person. A guy in his 20s prepping for a body building competition is likely eating double the amount of food I would be. Really, the most important thing is picking a variety of healthy foods that include protein, complex carb, and vegetables that will help you feel full and energized after eating.

*Insider Tip-Streamline the cooking process

I bought a rice cooker back in college for about $18 at Target, and it was maybe the best kitchen appliance I have ever had. You simply combine a specified amount of rice (or quinoa, orzo, steel cut oats, cous cous etc. mine will cook anything, pictured below) with a marked out amount of water and turn on the cooker. It automatically turns off when it's done cooking, and never burns. A rice cooker is a great way to reduce cooking time. I also like to bake chicken and vegetables in the oven in large quantities, it's an easy way to cook a lot of food with minimal prep time and dishes to do. 

Carbs-
Acorn Squash 
Barley 
Black Rice 
Black Beans 
Brown Rice 
Brown Rice Pasta 
Bulgur 
Chickpeas 
Ezekiel (sprouted) bread 
Ezekiel bread cereal 
Lentils 
Oatmeal 
Oats-Steel Cut
Pumpkin (canned, unsweetened)
Quinoa 
Quinoa Pasta 
Squash (Butternut) 
Sweet Potato 
Whole Wheat Pasta 
Whole wheat tortillas 
Wild Rice. 

Non-starchy vegetables-
Alfalfa sprouts 
Asparagus 
Bamboo Shoots 
Bell Peppers 
Bok Choy 
Broccoli 
Cabbage 
Carrots (fresh) 
Cauliflower 
Celery 
Collard Greens 
Cucumbers
Edamame  
Eggplant 
Green Beans 
Kale 
Lettuce 
Mushrooms 
Onions 
Snap Peas 
Spaghetti Squash
Spinach 
Tomato 
Yellow 
Squash 
Zucchini. 

Fats-
Almonds 
Almond Butter 
Almond Meal 
Avacado 
Avocado oil 
Canola Oil 
Cashews 
Cashew Butter 
Chia Seeds 
Coconut milk (unsweetened) 
Coconut oil 
Flax Seed 
Flax Seed Oil 
Hazelnuts 
Macadamia nuts
Olive Oil (extra virgin)
Peanuts 
Peanut butter 
Pistachios
Sunflower Seeds
Walnuts 
Walnut oil. 

Proteins-
Bison (ground, lean)
Catfish 
Chicken, Skinless
Cod 
Crab, Blue 
Duck, Skinless 
Eggs 
Egg Whites 
Filet Mignon 
Flank Steak
Flounder 
Greek Yogurt (plain) 
Haddock 
Halibut 
NY Strip 
Perch 
Protein Powder (whey/casein/soy/hemp/rice etc) 
Red Snapper 
Salmon 
Scallops 
Sea Bass 
Shrimp 
Soy Protein-based products (e.g. veggie burgers) 
Swordfish (no more than 2-3x/week) 
Trout 
Tilapia 
Tuna (limit to 2-3x per week) 
Turkey 
Venison. 

Step 5-Assemble your meals and pack a bag. 

For me, a typically meal is about 4-6 oz of protein like chicken or turkey, ~2/3-3/4 cups of a complex carb, 1 tbsp of a healthy oil for fat, and as many non-starchy veggies as I can fit in my tupperwares, usually 1-2 cups. Since I work at my full time job during the week and as a trainer on the weekends, I pack my meal pack for the day at night, and grab what I need from the fridge on my way out the door in the morning. 

My breakfasts are usually a blended protein smoothie with some pumpkin or oats thrown in along with a fat like flax seed or nut butter. However, you could also prep breakfasts ahead of time too.

Do you have any tips or tricks for meal prepping? comment below!







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