When I began my weight loss journey, I focused on one thing only: calories in vs. calories out. It wasn’t until I realized that my health was way more important than any number on a scale, that I started to learn to fuel my body with the best foods possible. This meant adding foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats into my diet. While all of these foods where delicious and made me feel ten times better, I didn’t always get around to cooking them and often found that my optimistic grocery trip often left me with meat and veggies going bad by Friday simply because I just didn’t have the time to cook them. I knew that something had to changed so I started learning more about meal prep. Over the years I’ve nailed my meal prep routine down to a science and truly believe it’s been a major key in both my weight loss and healthy living journeys. Here are my six easy steps to meal prep.
Step One: Plan ahead! Every Thursday or Friday, I head into my kitchen and see what I have on hand and what I need to use up. I pull out my favorite cookbooks, blogs, and recipes, and create a plan for the week. Because I prep only for me, I plan everything from breakfasts, to dinners, to snacks. I then create of grocery list for the week based on what I need.
Step Two: Grocery shop. Buy everything you’ll need to prep for the week. Be sure to check expiration dates, and freeze what you won’t be using until later in the week. A couple tips for shopping too, aim to shop only the perimeters of the grocery store for the least processed choices, also, try not to shop hungry, you’re more likely to make impulse buys of foods that are not on your list.
Step Three: Prep day! I like to start with anything that will cook quickly in the oven. This usually means something like a protein muffin or egg white muffins for breakfast. Next step is to get my meat and proteins cooking. This is usually done outside on the grill or inside on a grill pan. Some of my favorite things to prep are grilled boneless chicken breasts, turkey burgers, or lean ground turkey. I also love crock-pot chicken and typically make a batch weekly. For this simply place boneless chicken breast in a crock-pot with a carrot, celery stalk, and black pepper; cover with water and cook on high 2-3 hours. While my meat and protein muffins are cooking, I typically get to work chopping and dicing vegetables to either roast or saute. In addition this is a great time to get grains boiling on the stove as well as hard-boiled eggs. Lastly cook or roast up your vegetables of choice.
Step Four: Portion and store. After everything has cooked and cooled I begin to portion out my meals, and store them in containers for the week. I try to keep everything plain and unseasoned until during the week. This way, I can change and add flavors and spices based on what I am craving.