by Matt Weik
Many people have good intentions of getting in shape or reaching their goals regardless if they are attempting to lose weight or become a professional bodybuilder. What many have come to realize is that, what you do in the gym is great, but it’s what you do outside of the gym that will ultimately help you reach your goals. One aspect is getting the proper amount of rest needed to recover properly, as well as the topic of this article—meal prep.
Everyone is extremely busy these days and complain they don’t have time to eat the foods they should or prepare what they need. Yet, many have no issue sitting down and watching hours of Netflix each night. If you can pull yourself away from the idiot tube for about an hour or so over the weekend, you can meal prep a whole weeks’ worth of food and store it for the coming days/meals.
While there’s no secret to meal prep, there are some steps you should consider to make your time productive rather than running around trying to figure out what you need/want last minute. This article will go over three things you should consider when you want your meal prep to go as smooth as possible and without becoming time consuming.
1. Schedule one day each week for meal prep
I’ll give you a little tip that has helped me with meal prep. It’s planning one day each week to git er done. The best thing that I can recommend you do, is to do everything at once. This prevents you from starting and stopping because you get sidetracked and the day gets away from you and before you know it, you never finished preparing any of your meals. Also, you can make this a Sunday ritual so that it becomes a habit to ensure it gets completed each week. Forming health habits is always a good thing!
I’d recommend using Sunday for your meal prep day just because we are less busy on the weekends and you can get everything fresh on Sunday and ready for the work week ahead.
Go to the grocery store in the morning and pick up everything you’ll need for the week—lean protein, vegetables, etc. Once you get home, start your meal prep while everything is fresh and ready to go. Put away all the things you don’t need immediately for your prep and leave all the other items out that you’ll be using.
2. Get your prep work out of the way
Before you leave for the grocery store Sunday morning, get out everything you will need for your meal prep. This includes: forks, knives, cutting boards, pans, measuring cups and measuring spoons, etc. Also, if you are going to be using the grill to cook any meat, chicken, or fish, go ahead and make sure the grill is clean so all you need to do when you return is turn it on and you’re ready to roll.
Have containers out and ready to grab with ease so as you are cutting everything up or portioning it out, you are able to grab a storage container to put it in without needing to go searching for one. Tupperware is a blessing when you are trying to portion everything out and keep it fresh for as long as possible. Consider stocking up on Tupperware if you can find it on sale. Purchase different size containers in either plastic or glass. Personally, I like the glass version better, but that’s just my preference.
Once everything is set, the next thing to do is start preparing all of the food items you purchased for the week.
3. Prep food, not meals
With all of the prep work out of the way, it’s time to get cooking. What I like to do is do all of my cooking/grilling first. This allows me to prepare all of my protein sources at one time and allow it to cool while I work on the next part of my prep.
Toss your chicken, steak, fish, whatever on the grill or in the oven and make sure everything is cooked thoroughly. From there, toss everything on a plate (if you used the grill) or on pot holders if coming from the oven to cool down the food before cutting it up and storing it.
Next, move onto your vegetables. If you are steaming them or eating them raw is completely up to you. If you are steaming them, you could begin that process while you’re grilling or have your protein sources in the oven to save some time. Otherwise, get your containers ready and start cutting up your vegetables in whatever size pieces you wish. Once cut up, toss them in their own individual containers and seal them. Toss the veggies in the fridge to stay fresh and cross that off your list.
By now, your protein sources should be cool and ready to be cut up and/or packaged to go in the fridge. What I like to do is cut everything up rather than putting it in the fridge whole which forces me to weigh and cut everything each day I want to prep a meal.
I personally don’t like to always prepare full meals in Tupperware to grab and go (having the protein and carbohydrate sources in one Tupperware container). While convenient, we all have days where we just don’t feel like eating something. Yet, when you have all of the ingredients ready to go in the fridge individually packaged, you can grab what you are hungry for and make a quick meal without taking much time out of your day. Simply grab the protein source of your choice along with your carbohydrate and any other ingredients/condiments you wish and weight out what you need for the meal and you’re good to go.
Some people prefer to make complete meals all at once for convenience. If that makes more sense for you, by all means go ahead and do so. The above is just what I’ve found to be the easiest depending on what I want to eat for the day and what I’m hungry for rather than having something prepared that I might not be interested in eating that day.