With the upcoming arrival of Unleashed Fitness Meal Plans (T-Minus 6 days!), I’ve been thinking a lot about nutrition, specifically meal prepping. For me, meal prepping is a top priority every week. I carve out a few hours on Sunday mornings to prep, cook, and portion our lunches and dinners for the week. Not only does this take any and all guesswork out of what we’re eating for the week, but it’s super convenient to be able to grab a Tupperware container out of the fridge and heat your food up as you need it. Talk about a major time saver! PLUS it's a huge money saver for us each week as we're not going out to dinner because our meals are always planned.
I know what you’re probably thinking – that’s awesome that you meal prep every weekend, but that’s got to be so time consuming and I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I totally get it!
As far as time goes, my husband and I tag team the prep and have been able to cut our time down to anywhere from 2-3 hours each weekend. I don’t know about you, but I used to spend way more time than that cooking and assembling my lunches and dinners when I went day by day. The phrase “work smarter, not harder” comes to mind!
The many questions I’ve received on not knowing where to begin is why I decided that this blog topic was a top priority for me. Meal prepping does not need to be complicated OR time consuming!
Meal Prep Tips:
1. Dedicate a day.
Dedicate one or two days each week to meal prepping. If you have a traditional Monday through Friday job, the weekends might be a great option for you. If you have a rotating schedule, pick one day or night each week to get everything prepped.
2. Choose a protein, grain, and vegetables.
This combination of foods allows you to multitask in the kitchen as all of these foods can be cooked at the same time – chicken in the slow cooker, oven, or on the grill, grains (rice or quinoa) on the stove top, and vegetables roasting in the oven or sautéing on the stove. These foods are also the perfect bases for any meal and can be combined throughout the week to make different dishes.
3. Invest in containers.
Invest in food containers that work for you. Glass containers or plastic containers with see through lids are ideal so you can see what you have on hand. There are many great options available for to fit everyone’s needs and budgets.
4. Plan for leftovers.
Make a little more than you think you’ll need. Leftovers are never a bad thing to have (it guarantees you always have something to eat on hand) and can be eaten by the end of the week or frozen for future meals.
5. Save time with pre-prepped ingredients.
Pre-prepped ingredients are the perfect solution for those short on time and can be found in the produce section or frozen food aisles of most grocery stores. However, be aware that pre-prepped ingredients are almost always more expensive than buying fresh produce and cleaning and preparing it yourself (it’s a convenience thing).
6. Choose simple recipes.
If the thought of eating a protein, grain, and vegetable for every meal doesn’t appeal to you, pick a few simple recipes to make for the week and alternate the days on which you eat them. The easiest way to add variety to your weekly meals is to choose two lunch options that you alternate between each week and two to three dinner recipes. This time of year, the crockpot/Instant Pot are my best friends and also huge time savers.
This infographic from www.forrent.com is a great visual for breaking down the time, calories, and money savings of meal prepping.
Do you meal prep on a regular basis? What are your top tips for those just starting out?