What You Need to Know About Meal Prep

I get a lot of questions about meal prep and I know that it seems like it can be daunting, overwhelming and just plain confusing. Where do you start, what do you do, is it every meal that I am prepping, when do I do it during the week, what kinds of foods do I do.  There are so many things that people think about and tend to make it harder than it really needs to be.   

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Social media has made it really difficult to do because everyone is telling you what you “SHOULD” be doing and how you “should” be meal prepping.  But I am not about “SHOULDING” all over ourselves.  And if you are done shoulding on yourself when it comes to starting meal prep because as we know, 1 size DOES NOT fit all!   

And meal prep looks different for everyone! We all have to do it in our own way that fits with your lifestyle.  Today I answer your  most burning questions about meal prep and give you tips, tricks and hacks that make it possible for everyone to start meal planning.  

The first thing you need to do is to start testing what works best for you. Life is a bunch of experiments, so you won’t know how it is or how something works until you try it!  The same goes for meal prep, we can’t know how it will work for you or how you will set it up unless you actually try it out and see what sticks and what doesn’t.  

Meal Prep and Menu Planning  

To start, let’s figure out what the difference is between MEAL PREP and MEAL PLANNING.  This is something I get asked a lot as well as to which they should do. And really they tend to go hand in hand, but you can do one or the other.  So, the meal prep is you actually doing the cooking and preparing the food!  Meal planning is sitting down and figuring out what you are going to eat and cook, how many meals you need to make, for who, and for how long.  You can do one or the other or you can do both, it really depends on what works best for you.   

 Now let’s get started as if you were going to be going down both trails and doing BOTH Meal Prep and Meal Planning.  Pick a day that you are going to do everything in, or just the shopping in and the prep the next day.  For me, my day is Sunday.  

 When you make a plan, you need to make a menu. And now it does NOT need to be Martha Stewart meals, they can just be simple.  You need to then figure out how many days in advance are you going to make this plan.  Are you planning for just a few days or for the whole week?  What am I going to do for this week? (So are you going to prepare food for 3 days, then after those 3 prepare another 3-4 days. Or are you going to do all 7 at once?)  I recommend when starting out to just pick a small amount of time to get the feel of meal prep. Start with 3 days planning and prepping and go up from there.  

How long will my food stay fresh?  

MOST food that is cooked fresh lasts for 3 days. I purposely plan for my food to be done in 3 days. (if I make something Sunday it’s done by Wednesday) I also freeze things and double cook.   

Double cooking  

I double the recipe in my crockpot so that I can throw some in the freezer for when I need it on a night, I may be busy or I’m traveling and it gives me a quick meal to make.  I also double cook while I am cooking dinner.  What is double cooking, I make enough dinner so that I have it for lunch the next day. (or multiple days, depending on how much I prepare.)  And every single week I cook a big batch of chicken enough for the first few days of the week. I grill, air fry or roast it and it’s ready to toss on my salads.  

TIPS FOR FREEZING FOOD: 

  • Use glass (I get mine right on Amazon ) or BPA free containers to avoid plastics leaching into your foods. BPA is found in plastics and is a chemical agent that turns your body and starts to change the estrogen within your body. Too much estrogen in our system could be a precursor to cancer, so I removed as many products that could potentially turn into estrogen.  
  • You need to COOL your food before you put it into the freezer! (this will prevent it from getting crystals and mushy afterwards.) Let cool for 30 minutes on the counter then put it into the fridge and make sure the steam and moisture are out and that it doesn’t have any in the packaging. Or you can let the food sit in the fridge overnight, then check again to make sure there is no moisture in the container before putting it into the freezer.  
  • Make sure you label and date it!  You may not be able to tell what it is after it freezes so the better you know the less you will waste.   

I HATE TO COOK 

For you ladies that hate cooking, trust me, I hear you, I HATE COOKING too!  I am never going to be that Martha Stewart in the kitchen, it just isn’t going to happen.  I only cooking because I don’t want to starve!  So if you hate cooking, there is a lot you can do.  When you go to the stores now you can get things like pre-cooked chicken sausage, pre-cooked chicken breast, rotisserie chicken, premade burgers, there is so much premade stuff that doesn’t contain a lot of processed crap. Please be sure to read the labels. If you hate cooking these foods make it easy toss it on the grill or in the pan.  And the same goes for already prepared or cut vegetables.   

Even though I do not like to cook, I am a variety junkie!  If I don’t have a variety, I will lose my SHIT. And this doesn’t have to be every meal is radically different.  This can be one meal a week that you switch up or change just the spices in the meals.  And I like 5 things or less in the recipe!! So, no worries.  KEEP IT SIMPLE! I love Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/kimbarnesjefferson/ 

for this because it is so easy to find simple recipes that are ready in 30 minutes or less.  But if you want even more variety, head over to my website,  Iwebsite, I have recipes on there that are set up by high protein, plant-based and low carb.  Hit me up if you’re interested and I will get you those! 

Lunch can be a really easy meal to prep.  I eat a big ass salad every single day.  It is very easy to throw together and takes me less than 15 minutes to have my lunch all ready.  I throw in my chicken I prepare every week and add different veggies and spices in it to switch it up from day to day which gives me that variety that I need.  Switch up the protein you put in it as well, try salmon or black bean burgers to keep things constantly changing to avoid getting bored! 

When it comes to the storage of my prepped meats and vegetables, I do not portion my food together.  I just cook a bunch of chicken, chop it up and put it into its own container. Then, I do the same with my vegetables, that way I can put a little of each into something like a salad for my lunch.  By doing this, it gives me more control over my food to create new combinations every time I eat!  Of course, you can proportion everything out into containers if that works for your meals!   

I hear a lot, “why do I care about food prep..”   And my answer EVERY TIME is that food prep saves you TIME in the future!  And if we can make our days that much easier, especially if we have busy schedules, than why not try it out and see how it works for you.  And for me, I do not meal prep EVERY SINGLE MEAL! Heck no!   

I only meal prep mainly for Lunch because than I am not reaching for something unhealthy when I don’t feel like cooking in the middle of the day!  I come down from working at home, I throw together my salad I talked about before with all of the fixings I already have made, and I have prepared and ate my lunch in less than 30 minutes.  
Pick a meal that you are always unsure about what you are going to do and meal prep for that meal.   

 I also have a meal prep guide that walks you through the 4 Components of Meal Prep and they include: 

  • Preparation 
  • Cooking 
  • Shopping 
  • Storage 

And I give you all of the details to get you started on the right foot when it comes to Meal Prep and Planning.  

Need more ways to keep the variety into your meals and diet and not get bored of the same rice, chicken and vegetables every day.  I challenge you to buy 2 NEW things every time you go into the grocery store.   I choose 2 new types of protein, 2 new vegetables and 2 new starches every time I shop.   AGAIN, this is helping me with my variety as well.  It’s only 2, so don’t get all freaked out, just try it and let me know what you knew things you try!  Find something new to keep you excited about your meals and the things you are eating!  

And please, please, please stop trying to be perfect! You will get there. You will find your stride and you will find your groove.  It’s like driving to a place and Google Maps is telling you to take one place, and Waze tells you to go a different way, BUT you have to figure out which way is the BEST FOR YOU!  And trust me, you will find it!  

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/FabFitSquad 

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/fitgirlmagic/ 

Website: https://www.kimbarnesjefferson.com/ 

Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/fit-girl-magic-healthy-living-for-women-over-40/id1476883661 

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