Meal prepping is one of the key components of a healthy, nutritious lifestyle.
To keep myself on track, I spend a good amount of time at home preparing for my week in the kitchen. If you aren’t familiar with the kitchen, you can easily get overwhelmed, and you might quit before you even begin. That’s why it’s important to remember to keep it simple and don’t overthink it.
Fortunately, we are here to help you out with the basic steps for beginners.
1. Gather two to three simple recipes within our balanced meal formula, which include lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats.
2. Create a shopping list of necessary ingredients, according to their recipes. Be intentional about buying real, natural, whole foods.
3. Set aside a day to prep your meals. Sunday typically works best for those with traditional 9-to-5 weekday work schedules.
4. Clean your kitchen and start your prep! It’s always best to start off with a clean, fresh slate.
So, how many meals do you cook? If you are just starting out with your meal prep adventure, keep it small. Three to five meals is sufficient for the first go, for instance. When you get more comfortable with the kitchen and cooking, you step up the output, but until that time, work on one or two recipes that will yield two or three meals each.
My approach involves having some equipment to save time. My toolkit includes a rice cooker, crockpot, sheet pans (for roasting vegetables and finishing meat), and tons of differently sized tupperware for daily use. The idea here is to make everything easy for yourself to ensure success. If you don’t have these items, consider investing in one or two of them and simplify your work area.
There are plenty of healthy recipes out there. I personally try to keep it very basic. Here is what my process looks like:
I start by prepping all of my vegetables for the day. Keeping a clean cutting board is important to limit the spread of contamination. I recommend saving your meat cutting for last, so you don’t have to worry about constantly washing the cutting board. Once I’ve cut and washed my vegetables well, I either boil them or toss them with some olive oil, salt, pepper, or whatever spices I prefer that day.
Once tossed, the vegetables go into the oven for roasting or into the pot for boiling. It’s important that if you are boiling vegetables, you take them out a minute or two early and run them under cold water to halt the cooking process. Otherwise, you get stuck with mushy vegetables. If you are roasting, which is easiest, in my opinion, cook until the desired tenderness. Thick veggies usually do well with roasting, including peppers, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, and squash to name just a few.
Meanwhile, start adding rice to the rice cooker and start prepping meat. The easiest way for me is to throw the meat into a crock pot for four to five hours with some seasoning and liquids. This works with pork, brisket, short ribs, chicken, whatever you like can be cooked in a crockpot with limited cleanup and stress. In a few short hours, you will have flavorful meat to put on top of your veggies and rice.
Once everything is finished cooking, lay out all your containers. Add a small amount of rice, potato or pasta, followed by your veggies. (Remember, the more colorful the better!) Lastly, add your lean protein on top to fill up the plate. The next thing you know, you’re all done and ready to go.
The trick to this process, like everything else we do, is practice and consistency. The more you do these things, the better you get at them, and the more you see what you like as well as what you don’t like.
Start small and when you start to feel more comfortable, try to do a little bit more. Keep going. Just like in the gym. We practice the basics and when we’re ready, we push it a little bit further. Keep it simple and remember to plan ahead!