Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tip Tuesday: How to Meal Prep Like a Boss

 How many of you meal prep on a weekly basis to keep yourself accountable? [insert crickets]

It's ok if you don't. Now is the time to change that! Accountability may include dietary goals/needs, budget, saving time, etc. I have always been one to pack lunches at work to save money but also it helps with maintaining the figure. It wasn't until I lost 25 pounds that I really started meal prepping and carefully documenting what I was eating to meet my fitness goals. This "Tip Tuesday" post will show you how to meal prep like a boss. It may seem daunting at first, but once you get into the habit of meal prepping several times a week, you'll be come a pro like me!

Here's the top 3 things you need to be a meal prep boss:
1. Plan your menu
2. Grocery shopping
3. Prep & Cook

Are you ready?! Here we go!

#1 - Plan Your Menu

You're probably asking... But Timo, how am I supposed to know what I want to eat for the week on the weekend? Easy. Look in different places for inspiration. My biggest source of inspiration is Pinterest. Type in key words of the types of foods you enjoy and you will be bombarded by so many options you won't know what to do with. You can also find a lot of recipes on Instagram or Facebook. I typically look for things that will be good as left overs or you can prep ahead and then make the day of. I will typically plan to meal prep 2 times during the week so I don't get bored or burned out on the same thing 5 days in a row. It keeps things fresh and interesting during the week. I will also plan lunch and dinner as I have the same thing for breakfast erryday. I'm not even kidding. I usually make my 5 Minute Breakfast Sandwich because it takes 5 minutes (duh) and it's easy to make and take to work. I generally eat 2 meals at my desk at work. I know this is not a good thing, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!

I typically make one-pan meals like my Picadillo or One Pan Sausage and Peppers if I'm feeling particularly lazy on Meal Prep Sundays. Or I'll throw easy ingredients and make bowls like a Chicken Burrito Bowl or a Greek Chicken Rice Bowl. The possibilities are endless and you get the picture. Easy prep and cooking are my go to for lunches and dinners. If you like doing crock-pot meals, you can also do that and have your dinner cooking while you're at work. I also try to stick to ingredients that are in season so that I'm adhering to my financial budget as well.

Meal prep for me usually happens on Sundays. Why? Because it's the day before the work week where I can dedicate 2-3 hours for prepping and cooking meals for the upcoming week. I will fully cook lunch and dinner for the next 2-3 days and then do another meal prep day on Wednesdays for the rest of the week. I will prep the veggies and marinades for the meats on Sundays so they are ready to go by Wednesday night so I can throw them in a pan and cook them in less than 30 minutes. It's a time saver like no other. I will also prep any snacks that I plan on eating during the day like fruit or nuts. By prepping I mean portioning the amounts into plastic baggies or Tupperware containers.

#2 - Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping usually happens on a Friday (turn up!) or Saturday depending on how anti-social I'm feeling. Ha. Grocery shopping on Friday nights is the best because there's hardly anyone in the store which makes for a quick trip. The 2 most crucial things for a successful shopping trip are: 1.) A grocery list (doesn't count if you leave it on the counter!) and 2.) Shopping on a full stomach otherwise you will buy the whole store. If you stick to your list, I guarantee that you will save money and spend less time at the store. I'm not sure about you, but I'm not the biggest fan of grocery shopping. The less time I spend there, the better!

 #3 - Prep & Cook

This is probably the most time consuming part of meal prep, but the rewards of saving time later on in the week will totally be worth it. I have a demanding job and there are many nights that having meals already prepped in the fridge have saved me from making unhealthy decisions with take-out (Filiberto's anyone?) and saved me $10-$15.

Here's the method to my madness when it comes to Prep & Cook:
  • Marinate meats first
  • Cook grains (rice, quinoa, pasta, etc.) 
  • Wash and cut/chop/dice veggies
  • Cook meats and then veggies
  • Allow food to cool before putting in storage containers (I use Pyrex but Tupperware works well too)
For me it is crucial to put each individual meal into its own container because it really helps save on time in the morning when I'm in a mad dash to get to work. Ain't no body got time to put food in containers in the morning! I sure don't.

Hopefully these tips have helped you out to successfully start meal prepping on your own. It really helps when you are trying to save money on eating out or trying to lose weight or both. It makes a difference for me since I have a sensitive stomach and eating out too much can make me sick. Meal prepping helps avoid pesky issues like that.

What tips can you add to this list that I may have missed?