Meal Preppin’ 101!

So you want to eat better and eat out less.  With many of us working full-time jobs, taking care of kids, cleaning around the house, or just chillin’ to relieve your mind from a crazy busy day the struggle is definitely real finding time to cook healthy, filling meals.  So have you ever considered cooking enough food that can get you through a few days?  Wouldn’t it be nice to come home from work and not have to cook for at least a few days because you have a variety of food items that have already been prepared?  Just think about how much time and money it can save you as well as how much easier it can make eating healthier.  This type of planning ahead is often referred to as meal prepping or planning.  And if you’re into or trying to get into maintaining a healthy lifestyle then meal prepping is definitely something you should consider.  But how does it work?  Let me give you a few ideas and tips on how you can become a meal preppin’ champ.  The money and time you’ll save will be well worth the effort that goes into making this task a habit.

1) Create Your Grocery List

Since you are going to cook a variety of foods that should allow you to create meals for at least a few days then it is likely that you may need to get some items from the grocery store.  Since the idea here is to EAT HEALTHIER, a few items I typically like to purchase and cook in batches include chicken breasts, fish, spinach for salads and cooking, kale, quinoa and/or brown rice, and veggies I can easily chop up such as tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers.  The chopped

chopped veggies

Chopped veggies are great for using in salads, on top of meats, and as side dishes among other uses.

veggie mix works great as toppings for salads, fish, and chicken as well as just a tasty, colorful side dish.  Also, be sure to get some healthy snacks to eat between meals such as almonds and fruits.

2) Jot Down Meal Ideas

Once you have your completed grocery list or all the food items you need then it’s time to start writing down ideas for meals you can make from these foods.  If you’re not much of a cook then search the Internet for meal ideas.  For example, if you have chicken breasts then maybe you can search for chicken breast meal ideas.  Or for a

eggplant pizzas

Sliced eggplants are great for making eggplant pizzas and casseroles.

combination you can search for chicken and brown rice meal ideas. A simple Internet search is great but I also find Pinterest and YouTube very helpful and highly recommend checking them out, as well.

3) Set Aside Some Time to Cook!

Ok so now you have your foods AND at least a couple of meal ideas and snacks on your list.  Now you need to set aside the time needed to cook the foods.  The time needed to cook can depend on a few things such as how much you’re planning to cook, how good of a cook you are, and what type of cooking tools you have.  I’ve found that typically it’s easy to cook foods such as chicken breasts, fish, quinoa, and brown rice in large batches.  I have also grown to LOVE cooking so it’s nothing for me to be in the kitchen for an hour or longer whipping something together.  But don’t think you have to do it all at once…try spreading out your cooking.  Sometimes I’ll cook a little in the morning then the rest in the evening.  Also, as I’ve done more meal prepping I’ve been able to cut down my time by trying things such as utilizing multiple cooking tools, which brings me to my next tip.

4) Mix Up the Cooking Tools!

Think beyond your typical pots and pans you normally use.  I mean these are good, too.  I use a medium-sized skillet for cooking my seasoned, sauteed veggies and pots for brown rice and quinoa.  But when I want to cook large batches of meats or other foods such as beans that may take longer to prepare I like to use my pressure cooker…now that’s where it’s at!!  The one I have comes with

pressure cooker

The Elite pressure cooker

buttons that allow you to set the temperature based on what you’re cooking…great techie feature.  And just to give an example of how great this tool is I’ve been able to cook BAGGED BEANS from scratch within 20 MINUTES! Yes…I’m talking about beans that typically require an overnight soak and another 30 minutes or longer to cook!  And the meats I’ve cooked in it have come out so tender.  Also, the size of mine’s allows me to cook very large portions of foods.  This thing is well worth the money.

5) Multi-Task

You got different cooking tools so now you can multi-task.  I typically have my fish baking in the oven with my chicken breasts or beans cooking in my pressure cooking while also stir-frying some chopped veggies in a skillet.  Then I may also turn around and chop up some fruit or prepare some salads.  This skill definitely helps me cut down on meal prepping time.

6) Get Your Containers Out and Start Preparing Your Portions!

The last step in meal prepping for me is typically separating everything I’ve prepared into containers that I can easily store and access whenever I need them.  This makes it easy for me to know exactly where everything is so when I come in from a long day at

food containers

Food containers I use for storage and portions.

work all I have to do is reach into the fridge and grab what I need to warm up for dinner.  That’s it…no thawing or cooking required.  So I’ve went from a typical 30 minutes to an hour in the kitchen preparing dinner to 20 minutes or less…this includes preparing

food containers

My food in containers.

dinner for the hubby and me as well as our kids.  So I’m loving the time and effort saved.  I mean who really wants to spend a lot of time cooking dinner after a hard day of working?  I’d rather spend that time working out or chillin’ with a glass of wine 🙂

So, there you have it….meal preppin’ 101.  I tried to keep this as simple as possible and hope you find this information very helpful and easy to follow.  I recommend at least trying it out for a week or two just to get a feel for it and to see the benefits from it throughout the week such as time savings and the ease of knowing what meals to prepare for you and/or your family through the week.  I also

chocolate chip balls

Don’t leave the kids out! My kids loved these chocolate chip balls I made for them and they are very easy to make ahead of time and store for a few days for a healthy grab n go snack. These were made without eggs and flour.

strongly suggest making sure you have healthy grab-n-go snacks or desserts that you’ve prepared for eating between meals.  This will keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day and lessen your chances of getting cravings for bad, fatty foods.  Some of my fave snacks to prepare include my flourless oatmeal cookies and peanut butter balls.  And last but not least, make sure you drink PLENTY OF WATER.  I’ve seen some people prepare gallons of water for the week…I don’t do this but I do keep a large drinking container that I just refill throughout the day.

The best of luck to you and may meal preppin’ be very beneficial in helping you to get on track with or continue healthy living and eating.  After all, fitness and good health should not be temporary for you….it should be a lifestyle.

About Keke

I'm a wife, mother, IT career woman, MBA, fun, loving person who enjoys wearing multiple hats and living life to the fullest. I was born and raised in St. Louis, MO and have been working in the field of technology for over a decade, which I enjoy very much. Additionally, I'm passionate about fitness and eating well so I'm always researching related topics and enjoy sharing this information with others. My blog merges the things I'm passionate about by turning these topics into what I hope you find are interesting blog posts. So glad you stopped by and hope to see you back here soon!

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