How to: Meal Prepping
Exercise, work (or study), do the household, maintain your social life, get enough sleep and then also find time to prepare a healthy meal every day. If only we could cram more hours into a day! Fortunately, we can be more efficient in the time we do have. Namely by meal prep! This meal prep guide is going to make your life a lot easier.
What is meal prepping?
In simple terms, meal prepping is preparing one or more meals in advance for several days. Meal prepping isn't just for athletes and those who strictly keep track of their macros, it's also a great tactic to free up some extra time.
And don't fool yourself that meal prepping should be boring! There's more than just the notoriously flavorless brown rice chicken variety that bodybuilders seem to adore. You can find many different types of meals and recipes that lend themselves well to a meal prep.
The benefits of meal prepping
As we said before, meal prep is going to make your life easier. First of all, it will free up a lot of your time. Especially if you are someone who likes to keep an eye on his macros.
Because you cook for several days at a time, you only have to go shopping a few times and prepare your evening meal. So you no longer have to go straight into the kitchen after a long, busy day!
That will also ensure that you generally eat healthier, which is the second benefit. Because you already have a healthy meal ready when you get home, there is less temptation to order an unhealthy, quick bite or just snack a little.
Plus, because you do your shopping less often, you don't have to resist the temptation to bring a snack with you. That not only saves your waist, but also your wallet.
And that brings us to the third advantage of meal prepping: it saves money. For meal prep you will have to buy your ingredients in bulk, which is often cheaper. It is also easier to limit impulse purchases because you have already mapped out your meals in advance.
Does this sound so good to you? Good, then we can start! But before you run to the store to stock up on ingredients, you need to make a plan.
The first thing to do is calculate how many calories you need to eat each day to reach your goals. That will also give you an idea of what portions to prepare and what ingredients are best to use.
The internet is full of useful tools that can help you with this. For example, you can use the Harris-Benedict formula. When you have determined your daily calorie requirement, you need to see which macronutrient distribution works best for you. A quick search for macro calculators can help you with this.
Now that you know how much you can eat, you can start organizing the meals that you are going to prep. How many meals per day do you want to prep? And how many days ahead are you going to prep?
Think about what you want to eat, but keep it simple and use a recipe that you have experience with. If you can't imagine eating the same thing every day, try varying the ingredients you use. For example by alternating the vegetables or using different marinades.
No inspiration? These ingredients always do well in a meal prep:
- Vegetables: broccoli, green beans, leeks, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower, peas, mushrooms.
- Carbohydrates: rice, sweet potato, pasta , tortilla wraps , noodles, quinoa, beans.
- Fats: coconut oil , peanut butter , olive oil, linseed (oil).
- Protein: Chicken, burgers, canned tuna, tofu, beans, white fish, liquid egg whites .
You have your meals planned and you know exactly how much to prep. Good job, that makes it super easy to set up your shopping list. If you really want to save money, it is also important that you stick to it!
Quick tip: products that have a long shelf life that you plan to eat a lot can be bought in bulk. Consider rice, grains, dry beans, or even frozen foods if you have space in your freezer.
Buying food in bulk is often cheaper than buying food per serving. That can save you a lot of money in the long run. Moreover, you don't have to pick them up every time you prepare meal.
Time to cook
When you've done all your shopping, it's time to dive into the kitchen. If you want to become successful in meal prep, make this a routine on a fixed day and time when you will tackle this.
As a first step, tidy up the kitchen. Free up the space you need and pack up your supplies like your chef's knife, herbs and pots and pans. Make a plan of action and work in the right order. If you are making a stew, for example, it is an idea to cut all your ingredients first.
To save time you can do several tasks at the same time. Put your meat in the marinade before you start cutting your vegetables, and don't forget to bring your rice to a boil while you prepare your protein source.
The first time you do your meal prep it will probably take a lot of time. But do not worry. You will see that you will move much faster if you get the hang of it a little!
Store all your meals
The delicious meals you have prepared for the week should be stored in a way that will keep them tasty. Invest in a set of high-quality storage containers that you can put in the microwave.
Many of the beautiful meal prep spreads that you come across on social media are already divided into multiple containers per portion. This is an efficient method of storage, but it is certainly not the only way. If you don't want to buy a whole stack of containers, you can also store your meals in large boxes and weigh a portion daily.
If you are meal prepping for longer than three days, it is a good idea to freeze some of your meals. It saves a lot of space if you put your meals in freezer bags instead of containers.
Did you know that you can also prep smoothies? Place servings of sliced fruit and other ingredients in a freezer bag to make a smoothie kit. If you want a smoothie, all you have to do is take the bag out of the freezer, mix it with some water, and enjoy!
Have fun with meal prep!
When you're done and put everything in storage containers, all you have to do is eat it! What is your favorite meal prep recipe? Do you have any other good meal prep tips? Let us know!