Meal prepping is one of the most popular ways to stay on track with eating right. It does take planning, time, and cooking healthy. It's not a diet and quite the opposite. It means having plenty of nutrient-dense foods ready to fuel your body and achieve fitness goals. It also includes cooking in bulk and separating out meals to eat during the week.
Nutrition remains the primary ingredient to achieving and maintaining a fit and healthy body. No amount of exercise is going to make up for an unhealthy diet. Getting fit the right way takes a combination and balance of eating right and exercise. This is where meal prepping gives you a definite edge up to reaching goals and adopting a healthy lifestyle.
I highly recommend re-reading my Blog post on Cleaning Up Your Nutrition for Results as a great compliment to this topic. It also provides an excellent grocery list of healthy foods to buy for meal prepping.
Mastering the art of meal prepping isn't difficult and actually simplifies and reduces the amount of time spent cooking during the week. Plan to use a weekend day or day off to buy, cook, and meal prep. The following cooking methods are typically used:
- Crock pots also called slow cookers
- Oven roasting
- Outdoor grilling
Crock pots are the most popular methods to meal prep. When the weather isn't favorable for outdoor cooking, slow cookers are always ready to go. Many people purchase more than one crockpot to bulk cook lean meats and oatmeal at the same time for example.
The most popular protein food cooked in bulk are boneless/skinless chicken breasts. Depending on the size of your slow cooker, you can crockpot 6-10 chicken breasts at one time. I enjoy topping the chicken with roasted garlic salsa and letting it cook all day or even overnight. You may prefer sprinkling with your favorite spices, herbs and a small amount of water.
Steel cut oatmeal is another crockpot favorite. Using a 4-quart slow cooker works well for cooking a triple batch. Simply follow the cooking directions, except add the ingredients to your slow cooker instead of stove top. I also enjoy adding a chopped apple, 3 cinnamon sticks, and tablespoon of vanilla to the oat and water mixture. I give it a stir, set to low, and let cook overnight. Batch size will vary depending on how many people will be enjoying the oats.
Meal Prep Guidelines
Meal prepping is simple, fun, and promotes eating better as a lifestyle. The following guidelines will help you get started:
- Buy a crockpot (slow cooker) or two.
- Buy a large roasting pan for cooking vegetables.
- Buy a large stove top pot for cooking grains, legumes, etc.
- Purchase individual serving size storage containers.
- Buy a nice fabric cooler to carry your healthy food to work.
- Buy snack size and sandwich storage bags for holding raw veggies, nuts, etc.
- Buy a nice knife for slicing and chopping vegetables.
- Buy sanitary cutting boards you can wash in the dishwasher.
The following will help add flavor to your healthy food:
- Garlic, spices, and herbs (pick up a nice variety)
- Variety mustards
- Siracha chili sauce or Cholula hot sauce
- Low sodium chicken or vegetable broths
Prep and Eat Your Veggies
Eating plenty of vegetables is essential to your health and another component to meal prep. Buying celery, broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers, red peppers, and green beans are just a few examples. The following veggie prep tips will be helpful:
- thoroughly wash, drain, and cut up vegetables.
- Raw veggies can be stored in snack or sandwich bags in the refrigerator ready to grab during the week.
- Cooked veggies can be stored in individual storage containers ready to be added as a compliment to your cooked lean meat.
Popular Meal Prepped Meals
Eating healthy is tasty, not boring or bland like many assume. How you meal prep will determine the flavor of your food. Once you get the hang of spicing up your chicken, grains, veggies, and oats, you will enjoy the results of eating this way. The following meal prepped foods are often combined into individual meals:
- Chicken, sweet potato, and broccoli
- Crockpot chicken and roasted veggies
- Salmon and vegetables
- Greens topped with chicken, avocado, and salsa
- chicken, white rice, and broccoli (athlete fuel)
- Chicken, quinoa, and vegetable
- Chicken lettuce wraps with salsa
Enjoy an older video of my crockpot cooking
Success takes planning, and in this case, cooking. It also takes some time to portion out your chopped veggies and divide the meals. The time is well spent and will keep you accountable for eating the right way to reach your goals. Remember, small steps create big results and this is just another step toward living a real, sustainable, healthy life. Let's do this!
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