Meal Prep Basics
Let’s chat a little bit about that glorious thing called meal prep.
It can feel overwhelming at first but once you get into the swing of it, I promise your life gets a little easier.
I have a couple of basic steps listed below that should help you get started or feel free to watch my video on meal prep basics here:
Step 1: Figure out your game plan
- Before I even prep my foods I like to take a look at what I am going to be eating and make a shopping list. I try to find, prep and eat foods that will allow my body to function at it’s best while still looking it’s best.
- Most of these foods are considered “clean eating” meaning they are in their natural state. I also break them down into three groups: lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats.
- These foods will help keep my body satisfied and functioning at its best. Here is my list of clean eating foods that I follow. This list is not exhaustive and there are definitely other foods out there that can be healthy and beneficial, this is just a list that has worked for me.
Step 2: Make the actual list
- While making my list, I have to make sure I get enough food for at least three to four days. (1 day = 6 meals, 3 days = 18 meals, 4 days = 24 meals)
- Keep in mind, at least one of these meals per day can be a shake if you want. I tend to have mine in the morning or after a workout (if I have a shake) which slightly reduces the total number of meals you have to prep.
- Since I have been doing this for a while now, I can eye about how much is enough. However, for my newbies you might want to write down what you will be eating each day so you know how much is enough and can estimate.
Step 3: Shop
- Go to the store and get what’s on your list. Sometimes I will go to multiple stores depending on if I need a specialty item that my local grocer might not carry. Wholefoods, Fairway Market and Trader Joe’s are examples of what I consider a specialty store.
Step 4: Prep
- I usually start with what is going to take the longest to cook.
- For example: If I’m roasting sweet potato halves in the oven I’ll pair them with another food that takes longer to cook like zucchini, carrot sticks, butternut squash, etc. I’ll prep and put them in first so they cook while I prepare my other foods.
- While my oven is cooking, I’ll usually start up my foreman grill to grill some protein. Fish, Chicken, Burgers – you name it.
- While your food is cooking, you can also sort packaged foods into individual servings. For example, I will use plastic baggies and create single serving portions of my oatmeal, cereals, crackers, pasta etc that way I can just grab the single portion and go.
- Last, I’ll sauté or steam my veggies and cook any other food I have left.
- You may have a better method which is totally cool – this is just an example of a typical prep for me
Step 5: Pack and Refrigerate
- As my food is done cooking, I measure and sort it into individual Tupperware/glass containers
- Some people take it a step further and sort it into individual meal containers that hold their whole meal. I like to pick and pair the day of what I’m eating so I will usually do it in the morning or the night before that day.
- Last, refrigerate your meals until you are ready to eat them (I’m sure you know this but I just have to add it) 😉
In addition to the steps above, here are some basics or tips that might be helpful:
- Food logs: For those who track their food, my favorite tracker is MyFitnessPal. This helps you to see what you are actually eating and breaks down your macros.
- Eat every two to three hours – do not wait until you are hungry
- Every meal should include protein
- Measure all your food
- Water = 1 gallon per day
Last, here is a typical day of meals when I’m not in the middle of training for a show:
- MEAL ONE: 3-4oz protein, 1/2cup starch, 1/4-1/2cup fruit or small fruit, 1/2cup – 1cup veggie
- MEAL TWO: 3-4oz protein, 1/2cup starch, 1/4-1/2cup fruit or small fruit, 1/2cup – 1cup veggie
- MEAL THREE: 3-4oz protein, 1/4-1/2cup starch, 1/2cup – 1cup veggie, 1/4-1/2cup fruit or small fruit (option)
- MEAL FOUR: 3-4oz protein, 1/4 cup starch (optional), 1/2-1cup veggie
- MEAL FIVE: 3-4oz protein, 1/2-1cup veggie
- MEAL SIX: 3-4oz protein, 1/2-1cup veggie
- 1 shake (single serving protein powder + water) = 1 fruit, 1 starch & 1 protein (this would replace a whole meal)
- Also, make sure you get 2 tbsp of good fats in per day