The Ultimate Guide to Meal Prepping

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This past weekend, I dedicated myself to meal prepping –– not just cooking and eating left overs, but thoughtful, concentrated, and organized meal prepping. After about a month of taking spin classes, I’ve realized that my appetite has exponentially increased, and when there is no healthy food already cooked, I tend to eat junk or empty calories.

With 24” thighs and at 150 pounds, there is no way I can afford to gain even one more pound. So, my goal with meal prepping is to cut down on meat and starchy carbs, and to prepare healthy sweet and salty snacks for my frequent snack attacks. I need to have plenty of food at hand, and a variety, as well.

So, I devised a plan, followed it through, and this is how it turned out…


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Step 1: Choose a Cookbook

When the folks at Well + Good announced they were releasing a cookbook, I was all over it! I immediately saved it to one of my many Amazon lists, and waited for the right time to order –– that time was last week.

Step 2: Choose Recipes for the Week

As soon as my cookbook arrived, I cracked it open and chose my recipes for the week, marking each with color coded post-its. The idea was not to get bored with my prepared meals, which means I needed to have a variety to last throughout the week, versus eating the same thing over and over like most preppers tend to do.

Chosen Recipe Types

  • 2 Small Meals (pink)

  • 3 Main Meals (blue)

  • 1 Snack (green)

Step 3: Make a Shopping List

After choosing my recipes for the week, I read through each one and made a list of groceries I would need, and then, headed out to Trader Joe’s and got everything for about $80 (with cod being the most expensive item on the list at $20).

Step 4: Pre-Prep the Day Before

With plans to meal prep on Sunday, I pre-prepped on Saturday! While chatting on the phone, I took about an hour out of my day to chop onions, peppers, garlic, scallions, and such. To save a lot of time, I purchased my kale and cabbage pre-chopped, which I would suggest to you. Whatever you can get already pre-prepped, grab it, and chop our roots and herbs the night before and place them in bento boxes. I also pre-seasoned my fish and the mushrooms I used in lieu of meat for tacos.

RECAP:

  • Purchase pre-chopped veggies

  • Chop onions, scallions, peppers, garlic, and the like, on pre-prep day

  • Season proteins and substitutions on pre-prep day

Step 5: Prepare Similar Items Together

Sunday, meal prepping all my meals and snack only took 3 hours. The trick to it was to cook all similar items together. For instance, everything that needed to go in the oven went in together, all sauces were made at the same time, and everything that needed to be sautéed was cooked at the same time, or in quick succession. I went through each recipe, one by one, in order of appearance, and made sure each step was being followed.

RECAP:

  • Like items that need to bake in the oven, go in at the same time.

  • Everything that needs to be sautéed, cook at the same time on the burners.

  • Sauces and other liquids are prepared at the same time on the counters.

  • Follow each recipe, one-by-one, until everything is prepared.

HINT:

  • Choose simple recipes with few ingredients and uncomplicated processes

  • Designate stations on your countertops –– one for:

    • chopping (close to the knifes)

    • seasoning (close to the sink)

    • dirty utensils (close to the stove)

    • bento boxes (out of the way of everything else)

Step 6: Filling Bento Boxes

As my recipes came together, I began filling my bento boxes, which I have to admit, was pretty exciting. Watching my meals come together in these perfectly organized trays gave my OCD a thrill. the boxes help to plan portions, which should keep me from eating too much in one sitting –– something I do way too often. For my all-in-one recipes, I placed those in Pyrex dishes ad started eating those right away. After all that cooking, I was hungry!

This Week’s Menu

  • Baharat-Spiced Eggplant with Cherry Tomatoes and Yogurt

  • Barbecued Sweet Potato with Tahini Drizzle

  • Pulled Mushroom Tacos with Avocado-Lime Tahini

  • Sautéed Flounder with Kale

  • Spiralized Zucchini Pasta with Italian Spices and Tuna

  • Peanut Butter Cups