Want to save time and money, eat healthier, and meet your fitness goals? There is no better way to achieve these goals than to plan and prepare meals in advance. What makes meal prep so great is its flexibility: You choose quantity, schedule, and variety. Meal prep is also not designed to be one-size-fits-all. You can easily customize it to fit your fitness and nutritional preferences (e.g., weight loss, bulking, Mediterranean, vegan, etc.).
Jump start your week with meal prep 101!
How to Get Started
Step 1: Schedule Your Prep
You will need to devote two, maybe three, hours in the kitchen once a week. Depending on how many meals you plan to make each week, and assuming dinner is included in that total, this can free up time for other activities. Make menu planning, grocery shopping and meal prepping part of your weekly routine by adding these tasks to your calendar. While many prefer Sunday, there is no ‘right’ day to meal prep.
Step 2: Choose Your Recipes
There are no limits to what you can prep. Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and post-workout protein smoothies can all be prepared in advance. When planning your menu, focus on big batch recipes that use many of the same ingredients; this will help streamline the process. You are free to choose tried-and-true recipes, new recipes, or mix-and-match recipes. Find inspiration on Pinterest, Instagram with the hashtag #mealprep, and popular cooking sites.
Step 3: Cook for the Whole Week
Make the most of your time by multi-tasking. Boil hard boiled eggs, steam rice in a rice cooker, bake chicken and veggies on one sheet, wash and dry salad greens. Put your slow cooker or Instant Pot to good use, too. Using multiple cooking methods will make you that more efficient on prep day. Always cook proteins like chicken (165˚F) or fish (145˚F) to proper internal temperatures to ensure food safety.
Step 4: Divide and Store Meals
Once the food is cooked, divide into three categories – protein, simple carbohydrates, and healthy fats – and place into glass storage containers. When using glass, you do not have to worry about BPAs or air infiltration, as it provides an air-tight seal. Follow portion size recommendations for your specific health or fitness goals. Label all containers with the date prepared.
USDA cautions keeping leftovers in the refrigerator for more than 3-4 days. If you are not going to eat something within this time frame, freeze it; you can always thaw it out if plans change. Whether refrigerated or frozen, toss food that has changed color, texture or aroma. Equally, ensure your refrigerator is set below 40˚F, and reheat leftovers to the recommended 165˚F internal temperature for safety.
Why Meal Prep?
- Reduce food waste
- Save you time and money
- Stay on track of your fitness goals
- Contribute to a more nutritionally balanced diet
- Relieve stress by answering “what’s for dinner?”
Located on 7th St. and Bethany Home Rd., Healthy Habit Health Foods is committed to supporting your healthy way of life with premium fresh, natural, organic, and whole foods; nutritional products; body care products; and health information you can trust. Because we take great pride in helping our customers live a healthier lifestyle, we offer free nutritional workshops, so be sure to check out our events page.