When you have places to go, people to see and bills to pay, how can you manage to eat healthy home cooked meals everyday? It is easy when a weeks worth of meals can be prepared in one day. The trick to meal planning begins and ends with dedicated organization.
With the right motivation and simple planning techniques, weekly meal prepping can be done within a couple of hours. Not only does meal prepping save money, it will also support weight loss and fitness journeys.
STEP 1: Goal Setting
Take a few moments to assess the reasons for meal prepping. What are your nutritional goals and how do you plan on reaching them?
If your goals are to lean out, bulk up or simply maintain a fabulously fit physique, getting to know your macros is imperative. Discovering the macronutrient requirements for daily consumption is based upon caloric needs and active lifestyle estimations.
To obtain more information about protein, carbohydrate and fat ratios (aka. Macros) and instructions on how to calculate individual dietary needs, use an online macro calculator.
STEP 2: Tools
Meal prepping requires minimal kitchen space and a few specialty kitchen gadgets.
You will need:
- baking tray(s)
- large pot
- rice cooker
- vegetable steamer
- storage containers (*one for each meal of the day)
- food scale
Having access to freezer space, a large table or countertop and a medium size oven/stove top is also ideal for weekly meal prepping.
STEP 3: Groceries
With daily Macronutrient measurements in mind (see Step 1) and after consulting with a medical practitioner for further guidance, it’s time to go grocery shopping. Multiply your daily Macronutrient requirements by 7 days to estimate how much protein, fat and carbohydrates food sources you will need to buy. Try to stick with whole, unprocessed foods for greatest body transforming results.
Use online services like MyFitnessPal.com to obtain your serving size suggestions. You can even customize your macro ‘goals’ within the software and obtain serving size suggestions for 1000’s of food items and products.
Below is a few macro food suggestions for your shopping pleasure:
Healthy Macro Protein Sources:
- White-Meat Poultry
- Extra Lean Beef
- Protein Supplements (Whey or Alternative)
Vegan Protein Alternatives:
- Vegetable Textured Protein
Healthy Macro Carbohydrate Sources:
- Brown Rice
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Whole Grain Noodles
- Old Fashioned Oats
Sourcing local bulk food stores, butcher shops and farmers markets will greatly reduce the time and costs of each grocery bill. Be sure not to omit leafy greens and fresh fruit from your macro calculations. Fruits and veggies may be low in calories but they are filled with micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.
Healthy Macro Fat Sources:
Fat is the easiest macro to meet from day to day. To read more about good and bad fats click here.. Establish the best fats to incorporate into your cooking recipes.
STEP 4: Ready, Set, PREPARE!
Choose a day of the week dedicated for ‘grocery shopping’ and ‘meal prepping/cooking’. It is most efficient to use the same day for both tasks. Try to stick with a regular weekly prep schedule for best results.
Begin by measuring out a weekly portion of your macros with a food scale. For a variety of meals throughout the day or week split the macros into a few different food sources.
1 Week Macro Breakdown Example for a 1800-2000 calorie diet:
1700g of Carbs per week = 4 cups of brown rice, 4 cups of quinoa, 4 cups of oatmeal, 4 sweet potatoes
910g of Protein = 20oz of Skinless Chicken Breast, 200g of Sole Fish, 960g of Organic Lentils, 400g of Textured Vegetable Protein
140g of Fat per week = 4 tbsp of raw sunflower seeds, 4 tbsp of ground flax seeds
Use your various kitchen tools and appliances to prepare and cook according to food specifications.
STEP 5: DIVIDE MEALS and ENJOY ALL WEEK
Once everything is cooked it is time to portion each meal into ‘meal size’ storage containers. Each meal of the day may include a different spice, dressing and/or food combination to keep the taste buds inspired throughout the week. Be creative with the food portioning and include leafy greens, chopped fruit or nuts and seeds for extra vitamins and minerals per meal.
It is also convenient to prepare breakfast containers for the week. These ‘grab and go’ morning meals are ideal for individuals who rise early for work.
After each container is prepared and cooled, place three days worth of meals in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer for later. Don’t forget to move the meals from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw approximately one day before they are to be consumed.
There are many amazing meal prepping videos available online. Here is an example of what a prepping day might look like.
The most challenging part of meal prepping is learning how to calculate the estimated serving sizes for carbs, fats and proteins. Use various calorie counting databases to eliminate the guesswork and ease the weekly food prepping and grocery shopping process.
The greatest advantage of weekly food prep is, other than finally achieving that fine fit body, once the groceries are bought, food is cooked and dishes are washed, there is another seven days before these tasks need to be complete again!