I'm all about meal prep. But, back in 2015, I had never heard of it; never practiced it. Never really thought about it. That was till I had to for my health and sanity. I used to eat whatever I wanted, or thought was healthy, never taking into consideration portion sizes, or ratios for protein, carbs, and fats. This also explained why I was getting nowhere with trying to lose or even maintain a healthy weight.
I was doing things the wrong way because I wasn't prepared!
I can hear these words in my head from my parents. "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."
I had an exercise plan, but I did not have a food plan! I trained every day for athletic competitions and really, honestly thought that if I worked out enough, I could go nutso at the salad bar buffet (which doesn't sound bad at first till you realize not all items available are healthy). So, I became an overweight athlete. It can happen! (In the images below I am roughly 170 lbs at 5'5 in 2014.)
Whether you need to maintain, gain, or lose weight, meal prep is essential in keeping on track with your goals!How many times have you been too busy to cook when you get home or too tired? How many days during the week are you going out to eat, scavenging the vending machine for sub-par snacks or lunch? How would you like to grab and go out of your fridge vs. the gas station? Ladies and gentlemen, meal prep is the answer. If you already have your food for the week prepped and ready to go, it gives you no excuse. Are you ready to get started? I am going to provide you with a straightforward way to do this. Now, keep in mind, nutrition for one person is not the same for another. These concepts can be adapted per your meal plan/preference. Just as long as that preference isn't all junk food. I know! Buzz-kill!
Plan Your Shopping Trip
- Pick two protein sources (think chicken, fish, tofu, beef, pork, turkey, eggs).
- Pick two to three different green veggies
- Pick a fruit or two (the more fibrous ones - like apples, strawberries, etc. They will sustain you longer and produce less of a glycemic spike).
- Pick some healthy fats (think avocado or nuts).
- Pick two complex carbs (sweet potato, brown rice, black beans, quinoa, amaranth, oatmeal).
Pick a day that you can knock it out. It should only take about an hour or a bit more till you get the hang of it. Go ahead and cook your protein, veg, and carbs. Be a multi-tasker!
I will bake chicken at the same time as the sweet potatoes and will steam veggies on top of the stove or in a steamer.
Kitchen Tools That Are HUGE Time-Savers!Veggie Steamer:
The one I am using above allows me to steam multiple veggies at the same time. What's great about this version is I can set different timers per section of the steamer! It's the Richard Simmons Steam-Heat.
If you don't have one, there are a ton sitting on the shelves at second-hand shops for a couple of bucks. Same with veggie steamers and rice cookers. Set it and forget it! The magic happens while you're at work!
Instant Pot/Digital High Pressure Cooker:
I seriously do not know how I lived before this gadget. I can cook six pounds of chicken in forty-five minutes. We're talking fall-off-the-bone chicken. My husband and I did a whole turkey in about forty-five minutes over Turkey Day. The beauty of this machine is you can walk away, and it will go into a "warm" mode to keep food safe if you're not there. It also has a slow-cooker function. Heck! They now come with 7 functions!
Meal Prep Containers:
These are super affordable. You can find them online, in the dollar stores, you name it. I recommend Meal Prep Haven containers. I do suggest that when you go to reheat your meals that you do so on a plate or glass container. Do not use containers that are scratched or stained. Get rid of those to try and limit your exposure to chemicals within plastics.
OK, so you finished cooking! Congrats! Now what? It's time to portion it out your three main meals. Have your containers handy? Here's a guide for how much of what to pack:
Protein: Size of your palm
Green Veggies: Size of your fist
Complex Carbs: Size of your fist.
Now, if you want a tool to help you measure your portion sizes, we have a tool for that! It's called MEALKITT, and it's available in our store. It comes with cups and scoops and easy to follow measuring guides based on your goals. No need to count calories or weigh your food! Click here for more info on MEALKITT.
You may be asking, "What about fruit and fats?". Well, that would be snack time. You'll want to pair the fat with a protein the size of your palm for one snack and then a piece of fruit with a protein (again, size of your palm) for your other snack. A palm-size portion of nuts or half of an avocado will work for the fat portions. Notice that protein is present in both snacks and at every meal.
But What About Fruit and Fats?
Protein helps you feel full and sustained. I'm a big believer in eating three meals a day and two snacks to keep your metabolism kicking. Eating every three hours will keep you in an anabolic state (where the muscle is fed). When you get "hangry" (so hungry you could shoot daggers out of your eyes), this is what we sometimes call a catabolic state. You are not necessarily burning fat when this happens. This holds true even in an overweight individual. I know it sounds crazy, but the human body is a tricky thing! Making sure we eat regularly will also keep us from having the feared "snackciddent." We've all had those. I'm guilty of this as well!
So you made a ton of "X." AWESOME! YOU ROCK! Let's say you have more than 3-4 days worth of this food. What do you do? I portion it out and freeze it. That way I can grab a portion at a time to thaw in the fridge, so it's ready to go the next day or two.
Make sure you have freezer-friendly bags or containers. I use freezer paper when packing up my protein, and once it's wrapped, I will put in a freezer-friendly ziplock. Now, with veggies, I may cook just a couple of days worth and steam or bake more mid-week. Starches tend to hold a bit longer. However, when in doubt, throw it out! Which leads me to another tip: label your meals with the date you prepped them. Or, stick a note of the fridge about it.
I hope you find these simple steps helpful! Have questions? Comment below and I will get back to you! I wish you nothing but health and happiness!
-Teri from Miracle Noodle
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