Meal prep used to be a pain for me…and still is sometimes, but it’s getting better.
“Meal prep” honestly didn’t make it’s way into my vernacular until years after the start of my weight loss journey. When I lost my first 50 pounds in 2004, I wasn’t living on my own since I was still in high school so I didn’t have to worry about preparing food all the time. After venturing off to college, it was much of the same the first two years since I lived in the dorms and I had a meal plan that took care of meals for me. The last two years of college, I started cooking meals for the first time but it was usually one meal at a time or a Lean Cuisine meal when I was short on time.
Kyra and I were roomies in law school and we did cook a good amount. But, we were on a sometimes random schedule and we mostly worried about what to eat for dinner. During finals, our eating was sadly sporadic some days, you can read about that on our old blog here. We’re glad those days are over!
The game finally changed when I fully “adulted” and had a full time job where I got no breaks or free days (except for vacations). It was hard to figure out what to eat and how much to take with me to work. But I made my best effort and I’ve gotten better along the way. For the past year, I’ve been meal prepping pretty consistently because work can be so exhausting that I really don’t have the energy to cook on the weekdays. I have a pretty easy system that I follow and I figured it’d be great to share it with you to see if it can benefit you!
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Step 1: Figure out what you (really) want to eat for the week
This is the fun part of the process, depending on how you feel about cooking. Think of what you have a taste for and write it down on your menu (I just use a basic planner or calendar from Target but a piece of paper will definitely do the job). If you’re eating for a particular goal (weight loss, fat loss) the same rule applies. Just find recipes that suit your needs whether it be high protein, high fiber, high fat, low carb etc. I usually hop on Pinterest and find recipes there or check out certain cookbooks for tips. I’ve been loving Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes and Kyra has been loving The Dude Diet: Clean(ish) Food for People Who Like to Eat Dirty.She’s been posting dope, tasty looking pics on our Instagram, case in point:
Not the prettiest picture but whatever, it was delicious! It's freezing outside and I wanted comfort food. Enter #thedudediet (duh). Cauliflower Mac n cheese with spicy chicken sausage for me and the hubs tonight. – Kyra @serenagwolf #tiu #tiuteam #tiuannarbor #newyearnewdude #lookforlove #chasingskinnyblog
But honestly, there’s so much free stuff online, so you can start there to make things easy.
NOTE: The reason I added in the word “really” is because I love looking forward to what I’m going to eat during the week. And if you have been reading our blog for some time, you know that Kyra and I love to enjoy the food that we eat. We are here to dispel the myth that healthy food has to be boring and gross. You can whip up tasty meals that are healthy, you just have to experiment!
I think of what healthy eats I have a taste for and I write down what I want for each meal like so:
You can see that I broke down what I plan to eat for each meal of the day (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner) and this helps me not get overwhelmed!
Step 2: Make your grocery list
This step takes a little bit more work. Go through each meal and snack and write down each ingredient that you’ll need to prepare the meal.
TIP: Take inventory of what you already have on hand before or after making your list. Even if you think you don’t have a certain ingredient, you’d be shocked at what you can find in your pantry. Shop in your kitchen! You just may save some money as you cross out what you already have from your grocery list.
Step 3: Go to the store, and don’t forget that list !
Go to your local grocery store and pick up those goods! Be sure to keep your list handy because it’s what is going to make your grocery trip less painful (I personally hate grocery shopping). I am all about that get in and get out of the store life.
Step 4: Get organized & Cook your heart out
It’s time to make magic in the kitchen and put your recipes to work!
TIP: It’s so much better to cook in a clean kitchen that is organized. You can do this before you make the grocery store trip or after you come back home. Whatever your preference, I highly suggest tidying the kitchen up prior to cooking because it makes things go smoother. I like to have my dishes, measuring cups, cooking utensils, cutting boards etc. clean and ready for my use. I also clear off items from the counter top to make sure I have space. Lastly, I grab the ingredients that I’ll need to make my meals and I make sure they are handy so that I’m not scrambling to grab them.
Step 5: Portion those meals out and pop them in the fridge or freezer!
You made it! Your meals are hopefully cooked to perfection or are at least edible haha. Now all you have to do is portion them up into containers. This is another key to living the fit life! When you watch your portions, you avoid overeating and your meals can last you as long as you need them too. Here is one of my favorite containers from Amazon:
TIP: If you want food to last more than a week, find some freezer friendly meals to make! They are a lifesaver. I’ve been able to avoid grocery shopping as frequently because of this and I’m so thankful. I usually cook certain soups and stews that I’m able to freeze and eat later.
There you have it! Meal prep can definitely be intimidating, but if you break it down into these steps you won’t get overwhelmed. Happy cooking!
What’s on your menu for the week? Are you whipping up anything special? Share in the comments!