Monday, July 28, 2014

#MealPrepMondays - Simplifying The Prep

Hey Fit Fam ..

I've mentioned before that I pretty much eat the same things everyday. There is more than one reason for this and meal prep is one of them.

If I'm eating a wide variety of food every day then that is gonna make meal prep much harder -  if not impossible. Personally ... my meals only change weekly or bi-weekly.  Does it get boring and repetitive? Sure!! Would this be enough to make some people not wanna stick with it? I guess so. But I promise if you just try it (what is it they say .. 30 days) will adjust and get used to it and even enjoy the simplicity of it! I know one of the bigger dilemmas in our house was "what do you want for dinner", lol! Well .. the guesswork is gone :) Plus, there are TONS of ways you can make the same foods taste different (I'll throw in some suggestions in the very end of this entry).

So here is how I like to meal prep. I've also thrown in other options people use! Hopefully my suggestions will help you!!

Step One - PLAN!! 
Sit down and make your menu and grocery list for the week. Do this at home so you can see what you have and what you need. Don't forget to look and see if you are out of staples (spices, sauces, etc). Once you get your list done -- head to the store! I try my best to get a full weeks worth of groceries so I'm only going to the actual store once a week... but I always end up at the store mid week somehow, ha.

Some people have wellness plans given to them by nutritionists/coaches. If you don't .. then I suggest you just pick a few lean proteins, a few good complex carbs, a couple good fats, some good green veggies and a couple fruits. Then just pick from your list for each meal! If you need more guidance, I personally like - it has some great lists/wellness plans!! But some of them can be pretty specific -- which means the "macros" may not fit in with YOUR goals.  If I were you I would also download an app like My Fitness Pal. It's a great way to keep up at least how many calories you take in each meal (However as I've discussed this before, remember watching sugar/carbs is equally important).  You can even scan the barcodes of your foods to get an EXACT count (some of the ones listed when you search vary drastically on the app).

Everyone has different methods as when to eat what with each meal. I eat carbs all day long and yes I eat late at night... right before I lay down in fact. So what you eat at each meal is up to you! I like to have my fruits earlier in the day and I like having a 1st Phorm Level One shake and peanut butter before bed! It's easy and delish and also can be made into CAKE and ICE CREAM!!! 
Whatever you do, remember it's going to feel like you are eating a TON! But really you are just spreading out your macros! Just keep your portions small, eat every 3 hours and use the app to determine your own needs based on your goals! Don't forget to factor in how active you are!! Weight lifting takes a lot out of you! You don't want to UNDER eat or you won't gain/maintain all that lean muscle you are hopefully working hard to get! And don't forget your power hour post workout (whey isolate and a fast acting carb)! I do this in addition to my 6 meals. So I really eat like 8 times a day :) Again .. my goals are not YOUR goals! Do what works FOR YOU!!

Step Two - Prep, Cook, Pack/Store
I usually like to prep my meals on Sunday and Wednesday. Some people do it ALL on Sunday. But I freshness purposes it's best to only prep 3-4 days worth of food at a time. This will also help with those of you that get bored or want variety! You can change it after 3 days instead of a full 7 days of the same stuff.

With this step, the biggest decision will be if you go ahead and divide and measure your food into individual containers by "meal".. or if you just make it all, put it in big containers and then transfer it into your smaller tupperware as needed.

Personally my days are never the same. Sometimes I only need to take 2 meals with me, sometimes I have to take almost all of them, sometimes none. Because of that ... I stopped trying to put all my meals into individual containers for several days at a time because it ended up kinda being a waste of my time. But my biggest issue really was that we didn't have enough room in the fridge and we could never seem to time out doing the dishes so I would have a gazillion containers!
Also, on days where I have 2+ meals with me - I use my 6 Pack Bag. It has very specific containers you have to use in the bags and you only get so many with your bag, so putting my foods into individual containers for more than one day or two doesn't work if I'm planning on using one of my 6 pack bags everyday....because I don't have enough of them. A fix would just be to go online and buy a ton of their containers, or buy more bags (which come with containers) - lol :)

So you have two options:

"Option One" - Grab a ton of small tupperware, zip lock bags, etc., get out your scale and get going!! It would look something like this. I took this picture from google images because again.. this isn't the method I usually use!

Then just stack all your meals on top of each other in the fridge (label them if you are extra ADD, haha) and just stack all meal 1's together, meal 2's together - etc. So you can grab what you need, put it in your lunchbox or 6pack bag - and go!! It's already ready!!

I don't know about you all - but I need to clean and reorganize my fridge before 3-4 days (that is anywhere from 16-24 containers, several zip lock bags, etc., depending on foods that week) are gonna fit in my fridge!! PLUS don't forget .. I have a husband that eats 6 times a day too! So I don't think our fridge has the capisity we need to do this! Hmmm - time for a new fridge?! Haha!!

So I present you ...

"Option Two".. which I what I prefer.  Basically I just calculate and make the quantity I need of each food (when buying food remember that some foods are measured cooked. So if you don't factor that in you may end up short), then I put each individual food that I've cooked in big containers (so chicken in one, turkey in one, veggies in one, rice in one, potatoes in one, etc) and every night before bed I look at my "day ahead". That is when I take 5min and measure out my foods of the day into smaller containers to take with me the next day. Breakfast is sometimes the only meal I make daily. I like my pancakes fresh .. but the muffins I can make a few days worth at a time! (Basic batter base and other recipes can be found under the recipe tab).

The biggest tip as far as cooking all this and not spending 5 hours in the kitchen  -- HAVE A PLAN :) There are a gazillion ways you can cook 10 things at once! It will take a couple hours. But if you think bout it .. you don't have to cook again at all for a few days! Yay!

Here is how I manage to "do it all at once". There are TONS of ways to do this. If you wanna really make the most of your time - do some squats while cooking, lunge from place to place in your kitchen, have an audio book playing, get your kids to help you if you have little ones that are making it more "difficult", lol! 

*Pre Heat Oven - This is a good time to cut and wash anything that needs to be cut and washed.
*Put 2-3 dishes of ckn (usually 3+ pounds. this will vary based on your own amounts) in the oven. We've started using heavy duty aluminum foul in the pans to help with clean up! Or stick them birds in a crock pot and they will be ready the next morning!
*Potatoes either go in the microwave (in my handy little as seen on tv bag) or in pan so I can "fry them" or oven to make baked fries if the oven is free! 
* Also on the stove I will usually be making another meat (ground turkey, turkey or beef burgers) and one or two of my sides -- maybe some broccoli slaw pasta noodles or sautéed veggies.
* While everything is cooking .. if I can walk away .. that is when I tend to make anything cold - like salads, slaws, cut fruit and portion into bags, etc. Or I'll prep my next round of foods I'm cooking - like spiral some squash, etc.
* Once chicken is done I can then move it out and another meat in the oven - fish, etc. 
* While that round of meat is in the oven I sometimes have a "second round" of stuff to cook on the stove top. Most of the sides I cook I can just rinse out the pan I used and start again. Helps keep dishes to a minimum! I'll saute' onions, peppers, mushrooms (stuff I use as toppings to make dishes taste different), cook egg whites for breakfast, portion out my oats into baggies, make another side for the week, etc.
*You can also use your microwave again here. Boil in a bag rice, steamed veggies, etc.  
*As it finishes  - I then start putting everything into big individual containers as it's done.

I never cook with spices. I add spices or sauces later so that every day I can make the "same" foods different! I'll blog about some of my favorite another day :)

If you can't stand the idea of having the "same thing" -- then just know your meal prep is gonna be more time consuming! But if you have a dish you really love. Then make it instead of "just ckn breast" or "just browned ground turkey".  Just portion it out into meals over the next few days!

If you want to cook a different dinner every day -- that is great too. But again .. more time!! Do meal prep as described above, but take into consideration that every night when you cook a new dinner you should have leftovers for a meal the next day or two. Just careful doing it this way. People get tempted to have "a big dinner" when they cook something different every night instead of measuring it out to a small meal like the other meals of the day! I would imagine this would be much easier to do if you have a family and already cooking for several people since it will all be gone. But for one or two people  .. you should have leftovers for days and then you (as mentioned) you would just eat on it a few days .. then switch to another dish the next day you cook!

So that is it. That is how I meal prep. Plan then prepare based on what my week looks like!!

Before I started all this contest prep stuff I honestly RARELY cooked. My husband LOVES to cook and he took on most of the duties in the kitchen. So I'd say that has been the biggest negative of switching to a totally "meal" based wellness plan. That and my kitchen always looks like a war zone, our dishwasher is constantly running and I get at least 2 minor burns a month - but my abs thank me!!

Don't get discouraged if you find it hard! Just look for easier ways! Fire up the grill and move part of your prep outdoors, buy stuff that is in steam packaging, buy stuff that is pre-cut. It will become routine once you start doing it :) Good Luck!!!  I'd love to hear any of your Meal Prep ideas!!

Eat Clean. Train Dirty.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you, Stacy! I do option 2 and love it! GREAT POST, sistah!!! 😘