With our hectic, jam-packed schedules and fast-paced life, it has become difficult for us to eat healthily and stay fit. While we can’t do anything about our busy lives, there is one thing that we can do that can help us stick to a healthy diet—meal prep.
You may have heard about this before since this is probably the most popular trend today. If you have not heard about it yet, meal prep simple means preparing some or all of your meals in advance. This is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet since you are ensured that you have access to healthy meals anytime, all the time.
But how do you do meal prep? Where should you start? What should you do? Well, do not worry! I am here to help you out! This article will serve as your guide on how to meal prep for beginners so continue reading!
What You Will Need
- A pen and paper.
- Calendar or your planner.
- The Internet.
- Grocery Checklist.
- Ingredients (This would vary depending on what type of meals you would want to make).
- Packing items (These include mason jars, prep containers, and meal prep bags).
- Cooking Accessories (Depending on what type of meals you would want to make, common cooking tools are pans, food processor, blender, knives, baking oven, slow cooker, spatula and saucepans).
- A little bit of your time (The meal prep process will take just a bit of your time—it will only require a few hours in a week).
- Patience (The meal prep journey is tedious at first but hang in there, you can get the hang of it in no time!).
Step-by-Step Guide to Meal Prep For Beginners
Are you ready to dive into a healthier lifestyle? If yes, then here are some of the steps that you can take to get started on your meal prep journey.
Step 1. Determine what your goals are.
To be honest, there are many reasons why people do meal prep—to save money, eat healthily, have proper portion control, lose weight, and enjoy convenience. With that in mind, it is important from the very start to determine what your goal is for this endeavor.
By doing this, you can use your goals to guide you through the entire process including what meals you should prepare, how many calories you need to take, how much your budget is and the likes.
After determining your goals, list them down and hang it in a place where you can easily see it so you can stay motivated.
Step 2. Find a prep idea.
Now that you know what your goals are, the next step is to determine which prep idea is most suitable for your goals. If you wish to lose weight, you may want to go for a low-calorie prep idea. If you wish to save money, go for meals that use affordable ingredients. If you wish to gain muscles, opt for a high-protein and high-calorie prep.
Step 3. Take a look at your calendar.
Up next, you should determine how many breakfasts, dinners, lunches, and snacks should you prepare? How many days do you plan to prep for? This will allow you to determine how many ingredients you need to buy and how many meals you need to make.
Pro Tip: When doing this, make sure to consider your scheduled dates, appointments and meetings that will require you to eat out so you can plan your menus more accurately and efficiently and you won’t be wasting any food.
Step 4. Create your menu.
After determining how many meals you need to make, the next step is to determine what you should eat. You can search for meal ideas online and make sure that you consider what your target goals are in choosing a meal to create.
- Since this is just your first time in doing meal prep, it would be best if you will avoid meals that are too complicated to do or ones that contain many ingredients.
Aim to make your meals as balanced as possible.
- If you just want to stay healthy, the rule of thumb is to go for 30- 40 g of protein, 50-60 g of carbs and 15-20 g of fat in every major meal (dinner, lunch, and breakfast).
Calculate the calories.
- If you wish to lose weight, then you need to aim for the calorie deficit. Make sure to choose low caloric meals so you can hit your goal.
List down the ingredients and tools that you may need.
- After determining the meals, you would want to make, write down what are and how much ingredients you may need per meal. You may also want to take note of any special packing or cooking tool that you may need during the prep. In this way, it will be easy for you to shop for the food items more efficiently.
Step 5: Go shopping.
Armed with your menu plan on grocery checklist, you are now ready to hit the store! Make sure to buy everything on the list so you would not have to spend time going back and forth to the grocery all throughout the week.
Aside from the food items, you may want to stock up on the meal prep kitchen essentials like mason jars, meal prep containers, measuring cups and spoons, mixing bowl and the likes. Depending on your food prep idea, you may also need an instant pot, blender, and food processor.
Pro Tip: Ideally, the best time to shop for your meal prep essentials is a day before your scheduled meal prep day.
Step 6. Pick a day to prep.
And to know when you should shop for food items, it would be best if you plan ahead of time when is the day you should prep your meals. Experts recommend doing this on either a Sunday or Saturday since you have extra time during the weekends.
In addition to that, experts claim that people tend to be more dedicated to engaging in healthy behaviors at the start of the week.
Step 7. Prep the food.
Now, let’s get to the fun part! The first thing that you need to do is to prep your ingredients.
- For proteins, you can already start roasting, baking or poaching any meat, poultry or fish that you may use.
- For produce, you can already steam, roast vegetables or potatoes, and wash and chop raw fruits and veggies.
- For grains, you can already simmer a big batch of rice that you can use all week long.
- If your meals require sauces, dips, and dressings, you can already start making those.
- You can also start assembling salads.
- For smoothies, you can pack the ingredients individually in zip-top bags so you can easily throw them in the blender later on.
- If you plan on having sandwiches, wraps or salads, it would be best for you to assemble its ingredients the night before as these things tend to get soggy when they stay too long in the fridge.
Step 8. Pack the food.
After assembling and preparing as many ingredients as you can, you should start thinking of the smart ways on how you can pack and store your meals. Here are some tips on how you can do that:
- Pack the foods in transparent, plastic containers so you can easily identify what are the meals that you should take.
Pro Tip: If you do not have clear containers, then you can just simply label the containers that you do have so you can easily determine what are the ingredients inside it.
- Refrigerate cooked ingredients or meals that you plan on consuming within the next 2 to 3 days.
- Freeze the ingredients or meals that you plan on using later in the week. You can just easily thaw and reheat them afterwards.
- Pack single servings of cooked meals in individual containers so you can easily control the portion.
Step 9. Sit back, relax, eat and lose weight!
After planning, shopping, preparing, chopping, washing, cooking, and packing the meals, the only thing that you need to do is to sit back and relax. You can finally enjoy the fruits of your labor! After all, you have already prepared everything that you would need to eat healthy the following week.
To know more about the meal prep process, check out this video:
Getting started in meal prepping may seem a bit intimidating but following the steps mentioned above can help you to ease into the meal prepping habit in the easiest way possible.
If you like to help out your friends, please do share with them this simple tutorial. If you have more questions, our comments section is wide open for you. You can leave a comment below!