Meal Prep 101

Meal prepping is something many of my clients struggle with.  Even I’ve only become proficient at meal prep over this last year.  It was hard to wrap my head around cooking for multiple meals and multiple days at one time.  It seemed daunting and time consuming, but little by little I’ve developed habits and tricks that make the process simple.  And now it’s part of my routine, saves me a ton of time during the week, and ensures that I’m eating enough to keep my metabolism and energy up through my long days.

If you’re new to meal prep, here’s a few tips to get you started.

Think about which meal is the hardest for you to prepare during the week, and start by prepping five servings of just that meal.  Once you’ve mastered your problem meal (give it a week or two), add another, then another, then another.  Before you know it, you’ll be a meal prepping pro.

  1. If breakfast is your biggest challenge, try making a dozen hard boiled eggs, Egg Muffins, or Smoothie Packs over the weekend.  Make sure all of your meals, including breakfast are mostly protein and fiber (vegetables!).new-egg-muffins-1
  2. When you find yourself in a drive-through line or scouring the break room for leftover donuts most days around noon, it’s time to make a change.  Learning to love leftovers can be the easiest lunch meal prep strategy.  Intentionally make extra servings at dinner to pack up for the next day and voila! lunch is served.  Also check out these Lunch Bowls and Mason Jar Salads that can be made days in advance. mason-jar-salads
  3. There are so many amazing 1 pot meals that are super healthy and yummy!  On your day off, make large batches of 2 of your favorite 1 pot meals so that when you’re dead on your feet after a long day, dinner is just a microwave button away.  Pro Tip: Choose recipes that include lots of veggies and don’t require rice or pasta.
  4. Snacks! Don’t forget about snacks!  A handful of almonds and a green apple are my go-to snack, it doesn’t get any simpler than that.  You might also try hummus and baby carrots, or almond butter and apples (Remember: protein and fiber at every meal).  You can also think of snacks as slightly smaller meals and repeat breakfast, lunch or dinner preps… protein packed smoothies, egg muffins and mason jar salads are great options for snacking at your desk or in the afternoon carpool line.   Pro Tip: Avoid snack bars that are full of sugar and carbs.  They will only cause a sugar spike then crash… Not cool during that afternoon meeting or evening traffic.

Once you’re ready to start prepping the majority of your weekly meals, here’s a few things to think about…

  1. Containers- There’s nothing worse that spending a few hours meal prepping only to have no room in the refrigerator to store your culinary masterpieces.  Oh wait, there is something worse! having to play tupperware Jenga when you’re trying to rush 3 kids out the door.  Go ahead and invest in 10-15 of the same size containers.  I use mostly inexpensive shallow rectangular tupperware, but depending on your style, you may need something different.  If you’re obsessed with mason jar salads and lunch bowls, then obviously, mason jars will be your go-to containers.  If you tend to go with soups, chilis, stews, etc. you’re going to want deeper containers with high quality lids/seals to avoid spills.  You could even get really fancy with divided containers or color coded sets.
  2. Utensils- Ideally, you would remember to pack a spoon or fork every day.  Realistically, there will come a day that you will find yourself trying to eat a salad with your fingers.  Not only is that awkward, but believe me, salad dressing on your laptop keys is a pain to clean.  Stock small packs of disposable utensils in your car and office.
  3. Variety- Some of you would be totally fine eating the same thing every day.  Not this girl!  I need lots of flavor and variety.  Over time, you’ll increase your meal prep recipe arsenal, but in the beginning, try choosing a different theme each week.  Maybe a Latin theme for week 1, think black beans, cilantro, cumin, avocado and lime.  Then an Asian theme for week 2… try curry, ginger or soy sauce (amino acids)   Then maybe an Italian/Mediterranean theme for week 3 including tomato sauces, basil (or pesto),  oregano, etc.  Just changing up the seasonings can make plain ‘ol chicken and veggies interesting and delicious. This can keep meal prep simple by using lots of the same ingredients over and over again, but insure that you don’t get bored or burned out on your preps.

    I hope these tips come in handy this weekend!  With just a little planning and practice, you’ll be a meal prepping pro in no time 🙂

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