Last week, I wrote briefly on meal preparation and how it can help you hit your health and fitness goals by keeping your nutrition on track. In this post, I want to share how to do your own meal prep quickly while still actually enjoying the "same" food all throughout the week.
Step 1: Buy Tupperware
This step is actually what stops many people from doing meal prep. They think, "Oh, I really don't want to spend another $50 on decent tupperware. That's expensive." However, if you think about it, that money will be saved quickly by all the food you are not buying out for lunch and dinner throughout the week and month. So spend a little bit of cash now, get some nice tupperware (preferably glass) and actually use it. I like standard rectangle, glass tupperware with locking lids.
Step 2: Choose a Protein
Normally I like to eat a variety of protein sources throughout the week, just for variety's sake. However, for easy meal preparation, it is best to get one type of meat and make a large batch of it. Because we will be eating the same thing all week long, I like to use something with a plain taste like chicken breast, chicken thighs, or pork loin. For the recipe I'll share as the example here, I'm going to use a mix of chicken breasts and thighs.
Step 3: Buy Bulk Vegetables
There are a few options on the route you can go with this step. You could buy a huge bag of fresh broccoli (or whatever vegetable you like) and steam it all up at once, or you could buy frozen bags of vegetables that steam in the microwave in five minutes and save yourself both time and money. Clearly you know which one I go for, but it doesn't matter either way. I love frozen peas and frozen green beans for meal preparation because they seem to travel well and hold up to reheating without becoming mushy. Mushy vegetables are nasty. We don't want that.
Step 4: Choose a Carbohydrate and Run With It
When picking your carbohydrate source, remember that you're going to be reheating these meals throughout the week. If you hate the taste of reheated rice, potatoes, whole wheat pasta, etc. then don't use it! In my opinion, there is nothing as good at reheating as rice. It heats up quickly, tastes basically the exact same, and is a blank canvas for flavor. This allows you to change your meals up quickly and keep things from getting stale throughout the week.
Example Meal Prep:
In your slow cooker (if you don't have one of these, use your oven and an oven-safe pot) add chicken stock, garlic or garlic powder, and chili flake if you like heat. Put in your protein choice (chicken) and turn the slow cooker to high. Allow to cook until the chicken shreds easily. Remove from the pot, shred completely, and set aside.
Cook up enough rice for at least five meals throughout the week. Depending on your nutrition plan, this will be at minimum 1 1/4 cups dry.
Cook one bag each of frozen peas and frozen green beans (you can use different vegetables if you'd like).
Arrange your tupperware and mix up any combination of chicken, rice, and vegetables that you'd like. Toss in salsa for an easy burrito bowl, or mix in soy sauce and Worcestershire for an interesting take on stir fry. Maybe you're in the mood for barbecue, so you can mix up a vinegar based barbecue sauce, or even go for a tablespoon of your favorite barbecue sauce from the store (best if no sugar added).