You may have heard the term "meal-prepping" after you purchased my 4-Week Crash Course to Bikini Program or maybe after simply clicking through a "#fitfam" or equivalent Instagram hashtag. Maybe you don't have a clue what "meal-prepping" means, but I bet if you knew how to meal-prep, it would change your life.
Bodybuilding pros and fitness athletes have been doing it for years, and now more and more of the general healthy population or "fitfam," as we are referred to on Instagram or Twitter, are implementing these meal prep principles in their own lives. You don't have to be on a meal plan to take advantage of meal-prepping. I think it's a great way to save time and money no matter what food you're eating.
Benefits of Meal-Prepping:
- Convenient access to prepared meals throughout the week
- Less potential of sabotaging your healthy eating streak
- Ensures correct portions of food for each meal
- Cost-efficient way to not waste food
- Frees up more time for the rest of the week
Typically, I try to prepare my meals in bulk 2-3 times a week. Most of the time, I have to add an extra session to meal-prep because my hungry husband "accidentally" steals my chicken. You could probably get away with 1-2 different cooking sessions, depending on what you have going on for the week and which foods you include in your meals.
I'd encourage you, especially my Bikini Program clients, to try to prepare your meals ahead of time, and shoot for Sundays and Wednesdays. This timeline is convenient for most people who work during the week on a normal schedule. Cooking twice a week gives you room to change up your foods and prevents your food from spoiling if left over for more than five days.
My Meal-Prep Tips:
- Buy your protein in bulk. Eating clean for two can get expensive and time-consuming, especially if you're living with the Hulk like I do. Shoot, eating clean for one person these days is ridiculous. It's sad that the bad foods are always cheaper than good ones. But, one way to help you save time and money is to buy your proteins like chicken, fish, and whey isolate protein powder in bulk. While it may be a little bit pricier at the time of purchase, you will surely save money in the long run. We get chicken breasts and wild-caught cod/flounder frozen from Costco or Sam's. Most of the time, we can find the organic kind, but if not, we bless it in the name of Jesus. We save the fresh meat for special events or maybe weekend grill sessions, and then it's easier to buy organic. We like Sprouts or Kroger, which recently launched their own line of organic products, and it's fabulous!
- Use a food scale. It may take some getting-used-to weighing your food, but this trick is a life-saver. Most people aren't familiar with what a 1/2 cup or 6 oz. serving actually looks like. Plus, it looks different if you're measuring out oats compared to measuring fish. Plus, sticking to correct portions makes it easier to delegate each food out for each day. If I did it on my own, I'd probably mess up and eat all my oats in the first two days — gah, I love my oats!
- Collect tupperware (and old food containers). Tubs that contain foods like greek yogurt or cottage cheese are great recycled as your portable meal containers. This is a great way to save money, and not feel bad about throwing the tub away after you're finished. Less dishes = more joy!
- Choose one method of cooking for each macro. You might bake your chicken/fish or grill it. You might roast your veggies in the oven. You might microwave all your sweet potatoes. Or boil all your steel cut oats. Stick with one method for each food group, and cook them all up at once. The second time you meal-prep, try changing it up.
- Season your foods in the containers. I like to add my seasonings/condiments after I've cooked them and portioned them out. Don't get me wrong, I usually throw some garlic powder on everything (beware, vampires), but waiting until after I've portioned out my meals allows me to flavor some foods differently than others. For instance, I might add Mrs. Dash Chipotle Lime seasoning to my chicken and veggies for Monday's lunch, but I might add mustard and dill to Tuesday's.