Meal Prep 101 – A Simple Guide to Start Eating Healthy

As I post my meal prep photos on IG (Fitboss75), I’ve been receiving a lot of questions about how to meal prep.  I like to use the word prep instead of plan because prep sounds short, simple, and easy.  Plan sounds more daunting and time consuming, which is usually why people steer away from it.
Once you begin to meal prep, the recipes and cooking becomes much easier.  The hardest part is always the start.  (hmmm, that rhymes and sounds like a cool quote!)
What this article is:  a beginner’s guide on what to get, simple ingredients, and how to expand once you get used to it.  What this article is NOT:  detailed recipes for lunch and dinner mapping out the week.

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Step 1 – Plastic Containers
This is self explanatory, go purchase something you can store your food in.  At least 7 containers for 7 days of the week.  You can get some decent ones from Amazon.com, a pack of 10-20 for fairly cheap.

Step 2 – Favorite Foods
Instead of looking up recipes to figure out what can last for a week and what other people have done, make a list of foods that you enjoy eating.  Don’t make anything that you won’t eat, that’s just a waste.  Example:  spaghetti, chicken and rice, turkey burgers, chicken salad, sweet potatoes, bacon wrapped anything.

**Let’s do a full example so you can understand how this will go.  I’m going to make mini turkey sliders for the week.  My side item will be Greek salad.

Step 3 – Keep It Simple
Once you establish the main course, then make a list of those ingredients:  chicken, ground turkey, broccoli, bell peppers, asparagus, quinoa, etc.  However, when making this list, keep it simple.  Keep the list to fresh ingredients, unprocessed foods.

**Turkey Sliders Ingredients:  ground turkey, turkey bacon, bell peppers, garlic, onion, pepper.  Greek Salad Ingredients:  Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese, cucumber, red onion, bell peppers, lemon juice, balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil.

Step 4 – Now you can Google
If you need to follow a precise recipe, do some research.  Allrecipes.com usually has a good list of recipes with ratings.  Remember, you don’t have to abide by every rule and ingredient with a recipe, make it your own to your preferred tastes.  AND KEEP IT HEALTHY!  This is why you’re meal prepping to begin with.  I recommend using recipes as a guideline if it sounds too fancy with a lot of steps.

**Here is a link to Allrecipes.com Turkey Sliders  .  This particular recipe calls for different ingredients but I am going to use what I LIKE.  The guideline in this recipe is the style of cooking it and how long it should take to cook.  Instead of olive oil, you can use ghee or coconut oil spray, or extra virgin olive oil to keep it healthy.  So I would chop all the ingredients for the turkey sliders, mix with the ground turkey, and form patties.  Cook the burgers 2-3 minutes each side on a medium-high heat skillet.  For the Greek salad, chop all ingredients to desired size, mix in a bowl, leave out the vinaigrette and olive oil for the day you actually eat it.precision_nutrition_calorie_control_guide_web
Step 5 – Lay It All Out!
This is the rewarding part, seeing everything you just made ready to be eaten throughout the week!  Spread out 6-7 plastic containers on the table.  I usually use 5-6 because I’m out of town on the weekends or give myself a cheat meal.  Portion out the proper amounts of your proteins and vegetables.  Check out Choose My Plate for serving size guidelines.  Allow the food to cool down if needed, cover, and store in the fridge until you are ready to eat!

VOILA!  Meal prep complete!  See, that doesn’t sound too hard does it??
A few extra tips:
~ Create a meal to cover 1 part of the day whether it’s lunch or dinner.  This all depends on your schedule.  My meal prep covers dinner because it’s typically after I come home from the gym and am too exhausted to cook.  If this becomes easy for you, then consider prepping for 2 meals/day, something different of course.
~Consider the kitchen accessories you have to cook:  skillet, crockpot (my fave), oven, grill.
~The simple whole foods you buy, typically the cheaper.  Go to the store and look at how much a bag of prepackaged lettuce is compared to a head of lettuce.  No really, go look!
~Trial and error will slowly teach you what is good that will last for 5-7 days.  Every meal is not going to come out great, so don’t expect it to.  But learning this way will help you narrow down what is easy and good to cook for a meal prep meal.
~Vegetables are SUPER EASY.  You can either chop them up for a medley without cooking it or you can easily toss them in a rice/cous cous/quinoa dish.  One of my favorite ways to cook vegetables is to chop them up, lay them out on a baking sheet, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and bake.  Crispy, warm, and delicious!
~Use common sense.  Don’t toss in your oils or dressing (if you can help it) because obviously your food will get soggy by day 6.  You can save those until the day you plan to eat it.
~You’ll begin to realize that you can take the same ingredient and just cook it in different ways.  This is when meal prepping becomes easy, but always keep in mind to use healthy ingredients!  Try different ingredients and consider mixing your meats with your vegetables as a dish or your vegetables with your rice as a dish.
~Salt is not necessary.  Flavor your dishes with spices and herbs that won’t increase your sodium intake.

Hope this helps, happy meal prepping!

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