Pick Your Meal Prep Day in Advance
Sometimes, one day a week is all you need for a successful meal prep, but others may need to split it into two more manageable days. Depending on what you choose to prep, one day a week may be good enough to keep your food fresh well into the week, but certain foods may be smelly and bad after a few days – hence the need for a split prep.
Sunday is the most common meal prep day. It’s usually a quieter day, meaning you can prep without interfering with weekend plans on Friday or Saturday. Prepping on a Sunday means that your meals will last well into the week. If you need to split the days, Sunday and Wednesday are popular. Whichever day you choose to use to meal prep, make it a conscious decision and stick to it!
Macros and Meals
Depending on your activity load, you might need to be prepping for one meal a day or for every meal of the week. The number of meals you choose to make will affect your prep time and planning, so make sure you sit down to figure out what you’re wanting to make before you start prepping.
If you are planning macros out, be sure to include that in your pre-prep planning. If you’re changing macros daily, you might need to label your containers with days and times for easy organization. This also applies to other timed diets like intermittent fasting.
Easy and In Bulk
Generally speaking, stick to foods that will last in the fridge that are easy to cook and won’t take up a ton of meal prep time. Proteins like chicken breast, lean beef, flank steak, and pork tenderloin will last and are easy to make. Simple carbs include oats, quinoa, brown and wild rice, and whole grain breads. Don’t forget healthy fats either – nuts, seeds, and plant oils are great options.
Understand Serving Sizes
To shop properly, you need to understand servings sizes and how those translate into meals. One serving of veggies is equal to an open handful. One serving of meal is a palm sized piece. One serving of grain or beans is a fist sized amount. One serving of oils and fats is a thumb sized amount. Using tangible serving sizes helps you to picture how much of each veggie or meat you’ll need for your weekly meal prep.
Plan, Shop, then Cook
With meal planning, it’s important to work in an organized manner. Plan out your macros and number of meals first. Make a grocery list based on those numbers, then go shopping. It’s not really a good plan to try to meal prep with just pantry leftovers unless you keep your cabinets and freezer full. You can always go through your pantry to decide what you can use before you go shopping, though.
When you make your grocery list, you don’t need to make a hard and fast detailed list. If you need 10 portions of lean meat, write that down and find whatever looks good in store. Especially with veggies that are constantly going in and out of season, it’s a good plan to buy what looks good and seasonally low prices. Plus, it helps to switch up your meal prep so that you’re not constantly buying the exact same veggies and meats. After you’ve been shopping and have everything you need, it’s time to start prepping.
Storage and Container Systems
So now you’ve planned and prepped all this healthy, nutritious food, you need to make sure it’s stored properly to keep it fresh. A true meal prep container with a leak-proof, airtight lid is important to keep your foods tasting and smelling delicious. You don’t want to be disappointed with spilled lunch all over your bag at lunch time. Make sure your containers are microwave safe – melted plastic is not only gross, it’s also toxic.
If you’re wanting to meal prep well in advance, make sure your containers are also freezer safe. Freezer safe tubs help avoid freezer burn and keep your meals smelling fresh. Depending on your lifestyle you might want to invest in glass or stainless steel for an easily cleaned, BPA-free, environmentally friendly option. If you’re more worried about lightweight, convenient, durable containers, plastic is the way to go.
If you decide to meal prep two or three meals a day, you might need a cooler or insulated bag to keep everything contained and organized. If you’re just doing one a day, an insulated lunch box will help keep things cool on your trip to work.