Hey Angels and Alphas,
Whether you’re a complete beginner or an expert meal prepper, you know better than anyone that putting up some time upfront can save you a lot more time (and headaches) during the week… with the added benefit of making losing weight so much easier.
If you’re just beginning your meal prepping journey, you are probably doing it exactly because you think it will make your life easier. And it will!
But don’t overcomplicate it. It’s so easy to customize depending on your budget, lifestyle, and food choices. You can easily learn to create healthy and delicious meals that are easy to make, satiating, and in tune with your body goals.
To help you do exactly that, here are 8 tips by top dietitians on how to better meal prep.
#1 MAKE USE OF FROZEN FOOD
Never overlook fruits or veggies just because they’re frozen. If you’re trying to eat healthy on a budget, frozen food will cost less than fresh produce, and not to mention, they last much longer. The trick here is to look for products with no additives like extra sodium or sugar.
#2 STACK UP ON BEANS AND LENTILS
You can use beans as one of the most budget-friendly ways to increase portions with healthy food… all while giving yourself a plant-based protein and a boost of fiber! If you’re looking to reduce your intake of animal protein, you know where to look now. And if you believe you don’t like beans or lentils, you just haven’t discovered how many amazing recipes they’re already in.
#3 PLAN A WEEKLY MENU
Always plan a menu before you head off shopping. For some people, this might feel a little cumbersome right off the bat, so I suggest starting out with planning at least two dinner meals. Once you start planning your dinners, you’ll be able to purchase the ingredients necessary for the week – and always have leftovers.
#4 UNDERCOOKING YOUR VEGGIES
Do you want to know an easy way to avoid soggy vegetables when meal prepping? Just slightly undercook them, regardless of whether you use saute, steam, blanch, or stir-fy. If you do this, they’ll retain more of their vital nutrients, and they’ll be even better when you reheat them for a fast meal later on. This works amazing with all kinds of foods, not just fruits and veggies, including grain bowls, soups, side dishes, and more.
#5 PUT LABELS ON EVERYTHING!
Masking tape and a Sharpie pen should become one of your kitchen essentials. When you label everything with what the product is or what the contents are, you’ll be able to save much more time which is what you’re trying to do in the first place. And don’t limit yourself to just writing out the names of what’s inside the container. Use reminders, lists, labels, and do it all accordingly so you can maximize time-saving.
#6 MARINATE YOUR PROTEINS
Some dietitians suggest that you buy a couple of marinades or dressings (Tikka, Teriyaki, Red Enchilada Sauce, etc) and then combine them each with a protein (salmon, beef, chicken breast, etc.) in a reusable bag. Then just freeze or put them in a refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. This helps add more flavor to your meal at little expense to quality, and makes dry proteins much more enjoyable.
#7 ALWAYS MAKE EXTRA SERVINGS!
Meal prep can surely be a struggle if you’re always cooking for one, but you should never let this become an obstacle. What you should do is bookmark your favorite recipes and every new-to-you cuisine and always make extra servings when you cook them. It doesn’t to be on cooking-day Sunday, but just sometimes when you’re already cooking and decide there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make some extra servings.
#8 STOCK YOUR PANTRY WITH STAPLES
Always make sure your pantries are stacked with the essential dietary ingredients you need such as whole foods, canned foods, fruits and veggies, oats, grains, and meat. Keep canned foods like beans, tuna, and tomato, or stack your fridge with frozen veggies and proteins. From just a few staple ingredients, you can instantly make a quick dinner out of the first few things you grab.
Always remember your first and only goal with meal prep is to save time. Don’t get all lost in the complex tactics used by professional athletes (unless you are one,) and stick to the basics that will help you manage your time better and leave some of your week’s stressors behind.
With an arsenal of dietitian-recommended tips, you can be sure you’ll know how to deal with the challenges that come with trying to organize your relationship with food… and even though it’s a tough battle, it’s one worth fighting.