“Fail to plan and you plan to fail.” This couldn’t be more true, especially when you are trying to reach specific nutrition goals. However, food prep can be intimidating for a lot of people, especially if you don’t like to cook or don’t know your way around a kitchen very well. Just like fitness and exercise, we shouldn’t overcomplicate food and nutrition. Keeping it simple is always the best method, especially when you are new to the game.
1. Begin With The End In Mind
Write out 3-4 meals that you want to eat over the next week. Make sure they are sustainable i.e. fish that you cook on Sunday probably won’t make the best lunch option on Friday! Try to make them as interchangeable as possible so you can eat them for lunch and dinner. Rotate recipes as you go so you don’t get bored with your choices and be prepared to have an off day where you don’t want to heat and eat, just make our best choice when you do.
2. Prep, Store, Cook and Package
Prep as much food as you can even if you don’t cook it. Having it ready to toss on the grill or in the oven goes a long way towards helping you stay on track then starting from scratch. Defrost and marinate protein in the fridge to have ready to go. Use steamable vegetables that you can pop in the microwave and quickly add to a plate. Cut up your fresh vegetables and fruits so that you can quickly toss them in your yogurt, smoothie, salad or stir fry.
3. Season your food!
Keeping it simple doesn’t mean keeping it boring and bland. Salt and pepper are must-haves for all meals, in my opinion, but there are so many incredible herbs and spices out there that can make a good meal great. Marinades are also great and not to be afraid if used sparingly. A simple mixture of olive oil, mustard, and soy sauce makes a great mix on beef.
Don’t forget about garlic! Unless you have an aversion to it, garlic can be a great addition to just about everything. Having a few staple herbs, spices, and seasonings on hand can really take your food to the next level and make you excited about eating it, even 3 days later.
4. Storage containers
Having different sized containers on hand is important. There are a ton of sets out there that you can buy for pretty cheap and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Use them to store foods that are in prep mode i.e. marinading protein and use them for portion controlled meals.
Portion everything out into grab and go meals, even if you need to add something to it later. A lot of times ill prepare the veggies and a starch and cook the protein later in the week as it is my primary for that evening but add the leftovers to the prepared container.
Weekly food prep
Now that you have some tips on making things easier for your food prep, let’s talk about some simple steps to actually prepping meals.
- Pick a day of the week that is least busy for you to do your shopping and prepping
- Create a list of meals you want to make
- Make a shopping list of everything you’ll need for said meals
- Chop/prepare all veggies that can be done ahead of time
- Maximize time in the oven by putting more than one dish in at a time (plan ahead for varying temperatures and timing)
- More perishable items should be prepped closer to your shopping time – if you have another day halfway through the week that you have time to prep more food, hold off on some of your prep for a few days
- Freeze anything that is going bad and you know you won’t eat (as long as it can keep well frozen)
Food prep doesn’t need to make you crazy! Plan ahead of time to know what you’ll be shopping for and what you’ll be making. Then use these strategies to help make it that much easier while you’re in the kitchen. Turn on some music, pour yourself a glass of wine (or water), and get cookin’! You’ll thank yourself later in the week when you have your healthy prepared meal waiting for you after a long day at work.