Happy Thursday, Fit family! A lot of you have asked for more on meal prep so I Have prepared this post to give you an idea of what a full scale meal prep looks like.
Before I start, there are two things to remember. First of all, meal prep doesn’t work if you don’t eat the food. That sounds obvious but what happens to many people is that they A: forget it in the fridge every day; B: they go out to eat instead; or C: they eat the meal prep food AND add additional snacks into their daily diet.
Next, the system here is not a one size fits all, black or white plan. This may not work for everyone and you may find changes that make it easier for you. Example, I have a tiny kitchen. So, many of my steps I have to do one at a time whereas someone with more counter space could probably multi task just a little more.
So, if you’re ready to get started, let’s get prepping!
Before you even make your first grocery list, you need the proper storage supplies. My mother in law introduced me to these pop n’ lock containers and I love them, nothing spills and they stack pretty easily for tidy storage. I, however, have issues spending too much money on things like Tupperware (I prefer to spend it on running shoes and yoga pants) I found something almost identical at Walmart.
Find a storage system for all of your containers. This is an important step because if you can’t find the right lid or get as frustrated looking for lids as I do, you’re going to say “forget it” and not complete your meal prep. Organize! I Keep my lids in a box from largest to smallest and stack my containers. They stay on a shelf in the laundry room until meal prep day. Then I place them all out on my dining table so I can access and see them all at once as I finish food.
Next, I make my menu for the week. I plan out Every. Single. Meal. Here is an example menu, not necessarily one you’d follow (I guess you could, it’s not a bad one) but more or less shows you how meals can repeat, how you can spread them out amongst the days of the week and how you want to divide your fruits and veggies throughout the day. We’ll go over nutritional content of meal prep in another post.
|Day of the week||Breakfast||Lunch||Dinner||Snack||Snack|
|Monday||4 egg whites, one whole egg, 1 C sliced canteloupe||Kale, pecan and blueberry salad||Blackened Mahi, mango salsa, cilantro lime dressing, roasted asparagus||Apple and chocolate dusted almonds||pistachios, 1 orange|
|Tuesday||Squash and bacon breakfast hash||Grilled chicken, sweet potato, sauteed squash and cauliflower||Root vegetable beef stew||banana and boiled egg||Peanut butter apple stacks|
|Wednesday||Chocolate Banana Smoothie||Chicken apple salad on spring greens||Caprese chicken||Apple Nachos||Pepper and carrot slices|
|Thursday||4 egg whites, one whole egg, 1 C sliced canteloupe||Kale, pecan and blueberry salad||Hawaiian turkey burgers, steamed broccoli||Fruit salad||Greek yourt, pecans and sliced fruit|
|Friday||Squash and bacon breakfast hash||Out for lunch||Blackened Mahi over baked sweet potato||Apple and chocolate dusted almonds||Pepper and carrot slices|
|Saturday||Chocolate Banana Smoothie||Kale, pecan and blueberry salad||Root vegetable beef stew||banana and boiled egg||boiled egg and almonds|
|Sunday||4 egg whites, one whole egg, 1 C sliced canteloupe||Chicken apple salad on spring greens||Spaghetti squash lasagna||Apple Nachos||Cucumber stackers|
Once you’ve completed your menu, you can make your shopping list. If you’re serving your whole family the same food, make sure that you account for that when you purchase. I make a list similar to this:
|Butternut squash||Apples||3 lbs chicken||Greek yogurt||Strawberries||Almond Flour|
|Kale||Oranges||2 lbs Mahi||Feta cheese||Peanut butter|
|Onions||Bananas||2 lbs Ground Turkey||Eggs|
This is only a partial list, for today’s post we are keeping it simple but I will post a menu with a shopping list as a guideline later. Go through your list and mark off the items you have at home already. This will help immensely in saving money.
The next step? Clean your kitchen or prep area. It will be much less stressful if all your cooking utensils, containers and countertops are clean when you begin.
Now that your kitchen is clean and your list is made, you can hit the grocery store. I love Publix, it’s my favorite. They always have exactly what I am looking for and by eating seasonably (Again, another post for another day) I can almost always get my produce on sale. Take your time and use the old rule, “don’t shop when you’re hungry”. Since you already planned out your snacks for the week, there should be very minimal purchasing of items not on your list. Try your best to stick to the perimeter of the store and only purchase what you came for.
I prefer to do my prepping as soon as I return home from the store but not everyone operates that way. You want to be sure you have ample time to prepare your food so be sure you have at least 2 hours or so to complete this task. Trust me… I KNOW HOW HARD THIS SOUNDS. We are all busy with life in general but this is going to save you time in the long run.
Are you ready? It’s time to start cooking!
I have a tiny kitchen so you may be able to multi task better than what I do when meal prepping, here’s the space my 1945 kitchen allows me so no excuses that you don’t have the room!
I begin by washing all of my produce. I like to use a solution of 1 part vinegar, 5 parts cool water and fully submerge the veggies for a few minutes. This is a good time to cut open your chicken and slice it up to marinate.
I marinate mine in a simple mixture of EVOO, minced garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper. It’s a generic marinade that will keep the chicken moist but still give it an adaptable flavor no matter what it’s paired with later. Place it in a covered container, grilling will be the final step in my process.
If I have any meat that needs to be browned or blackened, I begin that process now. In between stirring and flipping, the oven can be pre heated to 400 and vegetables are chopped to prepare for roasting. I toss them in EVOO or coconut oil, depending on the recipe, and season with mineral salt and ground pepper. Place the veggies on parchment paper and put them in the oven, turning every 15 minutes or so. I won’t even lie, this is the step I mess up on every time. I forget I’m roasting and burn a minimum of one tray of veggies every single week. I’ll be purchasing a timer soon.
As the meat finishes cooking, store it either in a large container for dinners later in the week or divide it into your tupperwares for lunches and breakfast. If it’s part of a larger dish, place it in a bowl and set it aside until the rest of the meal is ready.
After this step, I bake my potatoes or prepare my quinoa. I alternate these each week. It takes quite some time so I’ll also slice fruit and prepare overnight oatmeal or eggs for breakfast burritos while the potatoes or quinoa cooks.
Fruit salad goes nicely in glass jars, I prefer glass with fruit because I find that it takes on a funny taste in plastic, maybe I’m just weird though. As you finish your fruit salad, go ahead and put it in the fridge. If you’re going to be using any of the fruit with your yogurt, you can stack it right on top with a Ziploc bag of pecans or walnuts so it’s all ready to go at once. Overnight oatmeal can go in the fridge and burritos can be assembled, wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in the freezer when they cool.
As the potatoes finish, I cut them in half and place them in Tupperware, or I’ll spoon one serving (Read that again, one SERVING) of quinoa in the containers. Now all they need is vegetables.
At this point, I’m ready to either steam, broil or whatever else I choose to do to my veggies. Some of them go into freezer bags with the other fixings for crock pot dinners (I love doing this). This step usually goes quickly and as the vegetables finish, I place them directly in the containers. By the way, now is usually the time I realize my kitchen is filling with smoke and I find scorched veggies in the oven so you should probably check on that now.
Once the vegetables are finished, I fire up the grill. When it’s heated, I place my chicken, burgers, corn on the cob (if I have any for the week) squash, or anything else I’ve decided to grill. While the food on the grill cooks, I finish the smaller tasks, boiling eggs, putting salsas together and in jars and so on. Those are quick tasks that can be done in 5 minute intervals in between checking the grill.
I highly recommend finding a trustworthy friend to watch the grill as you work inside, here’s mine. He does great.
Now that your grilled food is done, you can finalize your meals and containers. Fill them with the desired meats and let it cool before putting it in the fridge.
You’ll probably look around and see a few small tasks that haven’t been finished, salads can have toppings added in such as cranberries, pecans or walnuts and smoothie bags can be compiled with the remaining sliced fruits. Now you’ll begin putting all of your hard work away. I like to put mine in the fridge in order by day. All of Monday’s foods together, all of Tuesday’s, and so on. However my kids usually have it mixed up before bed on meal prep night so I just do my best to keep it organized.
There you have it… like I said, your process will vary and I know this leaves a lot of room for questions, it’s something that takes practice, organization, consistency and work. But it is so worth it at the end of the day! If you have any questions, hop on over to my facebook page and private message me or post right to the wall, chances are other people have similar questions.
I hope this post helps clarify some of the questions people have had and that it gives a starting point when it comes to meal prep. No go break out the Tupperware and get cooking!