Cooking 101: Meal Prep
The health and fitness world is a-buzz about meal prep and with good reason! Preparing your meals for the week ahead of time is a fantastic way to 1.) control portions, 2.) stick to your diet, 3.) make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs meal-by-meal! Whether you’re a seasoned chef or new in the kitchen, meal prep is a “work smarter, not harder” approach to hitting fitness goals & leading a healthier lifestyle.
While we all have something we’d rather be doing on a Sunday, the hardest part about meal prep (depending on your meal prep menu choices) is making time for it! We would say, food shopping aside, the average cook can get 5-7 days of food done in about 2 hours give-or-take depending on your kitchen savvy-ness. To speed up the process we suggest taking a look at our 6 ways to shop smart to save yourself a lot of prep time and energy. If you utilize our “ready to cook” and “ready to eat” options well enough, your meal prep can be done in no-time!
Nutrition and Meal Choices
If you are doing meal prep solely to save yourself time, money & energy, your meal prep menu can be whatever you want it to be. Go crazy!
If you are trying to improve your overall health (blood pressure, blood sugar, inflammation, weight, etc.) you have calorie counts and macronutrients to consider. Hitting your 1.) recommended daily amount of protein, carbohydrates & healthy fats & 2.) sticking within your appropriate calorie range is the key to hitting your health goals! Just keep in mind: specific diets require different nutrition goals!
Note: If you are following a specific diet, (e.a. high protein, low carb, muscle building, fat burning) this macronutrient breakdown does not apply!
With this in mind, a go-to meal prep recipe for success is as simple as including these in your rotations:
Before you can even go food shopping you have to decide what’s going to be on your menu for the week. If following a recipe, take into consideration however many that recipe serves. Since most recipes are made to serve 4, adjust accordingly to have enough for as many meals as you require, or leave one day open/free for a different lunch.
Once the choice is made on what you will be meal prepping, next up is getting what you need to make it all happen. Shopping smart really comes in handy here. Ready-to-cook frozen veggies or potatoes, quick rice & pre-cut veggies are an excellent way to cut time in the kitchen. Once you have the ingredients you need, next up…
Get Cooking With These Tips:
- If you have a choice to roast or sauté, go with roasting. You can 1.) do more at a time, 2.) take care of other tasks while its cooking, 3.) cook everything evenly. One pan meals are an amazing choice for meal prep for this reason! (less dishes too!)
- Start with the food that will take the longest to cook. This will usually be your starch/carb or vegetables.
- Set timers for time sensitive foods as needed.
- Don’t rush. This is when you miss important steps like greasing down the pan or seasoning.
- Clean as you go if possible.
- Keep food safety in mind. Even though you’re doing multiple things at once in large quantities, don’t lose sight of keeping raw meats/seafood separate from other foods / from contaminating other areas.
- Cook your meats, poultry and seafood to their appropriate food-safe temperatures.
If portioning your meals:
- Weigh your meats / seafood after they are cooked to avoid foodborne illness / contamination.
- Consider cooking all food in bulk then portioning out per meal as needed.
Try These Dinnertime Meal Preps!
Try These No-Cooking-Required Lunchtime Meal Preps!
Peanut Butter & Banana Roll Ups
What do you do for lunch throughout the week? Tag us with #BestMarket, we’d love to see!
March 13, 2018