By Jaime Rice
Over the past few weeks I have had several people inquire about meal prepping; best way to get started, how frequently to prep, what foods to cook, etc. There is a slight learning curve in regards to meal prep but if you stick with it, I promise it gets easier and you will become quiet efficient.Last week I gave a glimpse into my weekly shopping list and how it is possible to eat healthy on a budget. Today I will explain how to prep and cook all the healthy foods you just purchased.
1. Decide which protein (meat) you want to eat for lunches and dinners for the week. I usually cook chicken and Beef. On occasion I will cook steak.
2. Pick your carb(s); Jasmine rice, Brown rice, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, etc. If using tortillas or sandwich thins for a carb you made it easy on yourself, those don’t require cooking.
3. Veggies of choice: Broccoli, mushrooms, onions, carrots, corn, any combination of veggies you can think of or desire.
After all your foods are picked out now what? It can be overwhelming to stare at a bunch of food and try to figure out how to cook everything efficiently and not waste a whole afternoon/evening. Unfortunately running a smooth meal prep comes with experience BUT it can be fairly painless for first timers with some easy tips.
Utilize a grill, crockpot, oven, stove top, foreman grill etc and cook each food item in selected method while others are cooking elsewhere. For example; I will cook 4-6 chicken breast on the grill or crockpot while cooking 2 large sweet potatoes in the oven and sautéing mushrooms and onions on the stovetop. I love the crockpot! I can throw in chicken or sweet potatoes and literally walk away for several hours. Thus, you can start the chicken in the morning and finish up the rest in the afternoon.
Next question is usually “how do you season or cook all that chicken or beef?” Which is a great question. Again this is going to be trial and error. Chicken is easy, there are tons of easy recipes for grilling or crockpot chicken as well as ground beef. Mrs. Dash seasonings are a great option for foods. Mrs. Dash Taco is perfect for making taco beef. Play around with recipes. When it comes to vegetables I tend to buy the frozen steamfresh bags only because they are super easy. 5 minutes is all you need to have fresh cooked veggies. Adding sautéed mushrooms, peppers, and onions is a great way to add flavor to any dish.
Sweet potatoes are another food that can be cooked in a variety of ways. The easiest is to throw it in the oven and cook. To switch things up; peel, slice into thin strips, cover with cinnamon and bake in oven for sweet potato fries.
After I am done prepping for the week, I will portion out my lunches for the week and separate into Tupperware so I can grab and go in the morning. I wont portion out my dinners because I am at home at night and I can measure out my food and put it all together before dinner. You may not want to portion out any food or maybe you will want to portion out all your foods, find what works best for you. If I am in a rush I will cook all my food and place them all in large Tupperware bowls to portion out at a later time.
Meal prepping does not mean I don’t ever eat out because I do. I enjoy week day happy hours and weekend brunches with friends. Meal prepping allows me to eat %85-90 “clean” with free meals here and there thus, keeping a healthy relationship with food and a nice balance in my diet.
If you have thought about meal prepping in the past but haven’t taken the first step yet go ahead and take the plunge! It may not be for you but at least you can say you tried it.
Follow me on instagram @ms.rice19 For recipes, workouts and my ever evolving fitness journey.