Meal prep has been a popular trend of fitness and health gurus as most of us are looking for ways to eat healthy but don’t have much time every day to prepare healthy meals. Meal prep is essentially dedicated to those days where we have enough spare time to prepare at least two portions in advance. Whether you are a beginner or already prepared some meals in advance, these tips and ideas from us will make your meal prep easy and efficient.
Pick a day in the week where you have at least 2 hours free to prep your meals. Most people work from Monday to Friday so if you are busy these days, the most appropriate time to prep your weekly meals is during the weekend. If you are prep for the week ahead, you must do so once or twice a week as most food can be kept in the fridge for 3-5 days if it’s not dry. If you are going to freeze pack your meals and consume them anytime of the day at home, you can do so once or twice per month. Most meals take anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of hours to prepare so if you don’t have much time, save time by cooking different foods at the same time.
Wash, cut and refrigerate your veggies and fruits in small chunks. Veggies and fruits should be ideally included as a side portion of every meal because of their fiber and high-nutrient content. If you want to prepare your veggies/fruits in advance, the best method would be to wash, peel, and cut them into sticks or small chunks and then store them separately into zip bags in the fridge or freezer. If you are going to cook them first, add dry seasonings instead of liquid sauces as the sauce will add extra calories and make storage more difficult. You can also prep your salads ideally with the dressing separately and not poured on the salad from the start.
Bake your meats, chicken and fish on steam or a grill. Since most healthy meals contain at least one protein source (unless you're are vegan), the easiest and healthiest way to prep your protein portions is to bake, grill, or steam your meat or fish with minimal fat and some dry seasonings e.g paprika, curry, salt, pepper, etc. Cut them first into thinner or smaller chunks so that they cook faster and more evenly. If you don’t want them to dry out, add some lemon juice so you add more flavor while helping them stay fresh. Heavy and liquid sauces on top do not refrigerate or freeze very well.
Cook your carbs last. The last and least portion to cook in advance for a complete healthy meal is your carbs e.g potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice or pasta. However, since some e.g pasta and rice tend to get mushy/stick together, cook them last and use a healthy source of fat to separate them so they don’t stick together once refrigerated and stored.
Store your food in BPA-free plastic containers with at least two parts/sections. Finally, the last step of meal prep is assembling your food portions in the right containers. Ideally, you want to look for a microwavable container that doesn’t contain BPA--a highly toxic plastic compound. Also, make sure that the container is split into at least 2-3 sections for adding different food sources separately e.g proteins, veggies, and carbs.
For some healthy meal ideas you can prepare in advance, check out this article. Have an idea to share with us? Tell us in the comments below.