If you are familiar with IIFYM, flexible dieting, clean eating, or competition prepping then you are bound to have come across the term ‘meal prep’. Meal prep is essentially cooking a large quantity of food into many portioned controlled meals. You can prepare for 3 days, or 3 weeks. It is completely up to what you want, how you store it and how you will eat it.
I love to meal prep. I admit, I haven’t done it as often as I should but I love the results you get from clean, healthy, calculated meals that are convenient and require minimal to no mid week dishes. If you are also wanting to eat healthy and clean but are on a budget, perhaps try meal prepping as I find this saves me mega money at the check out.
The main downside to meal prepping is that it can be a bit repetitive, but when I find my food getting boring I turn to new seasonings or combinations. How many out there eat the same thing everyday for breakfast? After a while it’s not really an issue, especially if you love what you eat!
Depending on the food, really depends on how frequently you need to cook. Some cook for the week, freeze half and put the rest in the refrigerator. I cannot handle re-heated chicken so for me, I prefer to eat chicken fresh.
Step 1: Plan out what you will eat
Plan absolutely everything out. All your meals, snacks, shakes need to be written down. Do you have a fall back Quest bar if you are craving chocolate or a Skinny Cow ice cream if you are craving something sweet? If you are looking into hitting macros, then this may take a little while to plan out. If you have a good coach, they will help you with this.
If you are after something really generic, it may look a little like this:
Meal 1- I love my traditional oats for breakfast!
Meal 2- This alternates between protein shake with almonds or yoghurt and berries.
Meal 3- Protein, fibrous veg and my beloved carbs.
Meal 4- Apple and peanut butter
Meal 5- Meat and vegetables.
Meal 6- If I remember and feel like it I have a protein shake.
Step 2: Figure out quantities you will need for the whole week
For the meal plan I mentioned in step 1, you will be looking at:
3.5 cups oats
7 servings of protein powder for oats or 1/4 c. egg whites each day (1.75 c total) with stevia, cinnamon and nutmeg
7 cups greek yoghurt or cottage cheese (my favourite is to use quark)
3.5 cups frozen berries
7 servings of chicken (700g)
700 g sweet potato mash
7 cups of lightly steamed greens
700 g tukey, roo or extra lean beef
salad/vegetables for dinner
I suggest shopping on a full tummy after a big workout so you are full of endorphin’s. Happy, full people are less likely to cave and buy junk food. If you are on a budget try shopping at a local farmers markets- they save me a fortune!
Step 3: Cook it up!
But before you do… clean your kitchen like the Queen is about to visit. No one likes food poisoning. You’ll be cooking once this week so cleaning the sink and bench tops really shouldn’t be an issue.
I have my own little routine going to make it super quick- I dice my chicken, season it, and put it in the oven. Whilst my chicken is cooking, I put my veggies on to steam, and cook anything else like sweet potato mash. Once the vegetables are cooking, I get a move on with the salad prep, oats, and yoghurt with berries.
After a few weeks of practice it will be easy to get this to an hour or less. During the week, I may even back some protein muffins as an added extra but I make them because I love baking!
Step 4: Store it
It’s important to get everything into containers as soon as possible and straight into the fridge/freezer. Storage depends on what you are storing and where. Be careful with this one- you don’t want to waste all your hard work!
So ladies and gents, this is what my 3 day meal prep looks like. I personally like to do a 3 and 4 day meal prep. It gives me the opportunity to change my meals regularly but also keep everything fresh!