You worry that meal prep is so time-consuming that you’ll never be capable of getting in the habit? On the contrary! Meal prep can make your life a whole lot easier. In addition, it helps you stay fit and control the amount you’re consuming on a daily basis.
So, what does it take to get started? The following meal prep for beginners guide will acquaint you with the basics and the little secrets that can reduce the amount of time required to complete the process.
Start with a Plan
Meal prep starts before you get to the actual chopping board. Doing a bit of planning and knowing what you’re going to do for the day or the week will reduce the amount of time required to finish everything.
If you’re just getting started, there’s no need to plan and prep food for the entire week. Start with the ingredients required for a few days worth of meals. Otherwise, you’ll overwhelm yourself and chances are that you’ll give up on the process relatively fast.
The meal plan will simplify your visit to the grocery store and reduce the amount of waste. You’ll simply have to purchase the ingredients that you’ll require for the few coming days.
Sticking to planning and shopping for the upcoming three to four days will be best for beginners. Once you become more confident in your planning efforts, you can attempt to do meal prep for the entire week.
Follow a Simple Formula
What should your meals contain? Follow a simply formula – you’ll need a protein, a starch and a vegetable every single day. By going for different ingredients within the three groups, you can ensure the diversity and deliciousness of your meals.
Some of the common and healthy proteins to consider include chicken breast, turkey, fatty fish like salmon, ground turkey and chicken, lean beef and eggs.
The common starch options include quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, emperor’s rice, amaranth, potatoes, buckwheat and pasta. Stick to wholegrain products because they have a lower glycemic index and they’re also a source of numerous healthy nutrients.
When it comes to veggies, there are so many possibilities to choose among! Here are just a few of those – green beans, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, kale, zucchini, carrots, asparagus, cucumbers, bell peppers, cabbage and many others.
Prepare and Cook Your Food
Meal prep involves two processes – getting the ingredients ready and cooking them. Preparing the products will usually consist of cleaning, washing and cutting them up. Fruits, veggies and meat will all have to go through the same process.
Some of the prepared ingredients can be stored in Ziploc bags until they’re required. Other ingredients can be frozen. This second tip applies to ground meat and even meatballs. This way, you’ll simply have to take those out of the freezer and cook them.
Most of the protein for the week can be cooked in a single day. The healthy food preparation options include grilling, baking, steaming and making proteins in the crockpot. Slow cooking will “seal” the flavor and make the meat incredibly tender.
Starches can also be cooked in advance and simply heated on the day that you’d like to consume them. When it comes to veggies, they can be consumed raw or they can be sautéed. It’s up to you to choose the option that you find more delicious.
Remember to personalize the meal prep! Some people feel more comfortable cooking everything in a single day. Others prepare the protein in advance and cook starches/veggies the night before. It all depends on your schedule and the amount of time that you can dedicate to meal prep.
Get the Necessary Equipment
To do meal prep, you’ll need some tools and supplies. These will make the process a whole lot simpler.
Start with the basics. A quality knife set and a cutting board are both essential. If you can afford it, invest in more expensive pieces that will remain sharp and usable for years to come.
A salad spinner, cooking pots and storage containers are also essential. Finally, to control the amount of food you’re consuming, look for a product like portion control containers. These help you determine what the optimal amount of nutrients for the respective day is. Through the use of such containers, you reduce the risk of cheating and impulsive snacking – an essential for staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight.