4-Step Meal Prep
You rush home from work and think
“What the hell am I going to make for supper?”
Your son, Jake has hockey at 7:30pm.
Your daughter, Maddie has ringette at 7:45pm.
You scan Pinterest at the stoplight before realizing you have no groceries in the house.
“Oh, screw it, I’ll just pick up some McDonald’s”
“I’ll have a healthy, nutritious meal with something green in it tomorrow”.
Does this sound like you?
Do you often get stuck with nothing good to eat for supper and end up resorting to things like
or Chinese food.
Now, don’t get it twisted.
I enjoy pizza and Chinese occasionally.
And, if you like them, you should too.
It just gets to be a little much on the body and the wallet after the fourth time in one week.
This term is super hot right now.
It seems like everyone and their grandmother is doing meal prep.
It’s nothing new.
It’s not complicated.
It’s quite simple,
But no one said it was easy.
It takes planning, scheduling and foresight to effectively meal prep.
Like the old saying goes:
Fail to plan and you plan to fail.
(I personally dislike this saying. Failing is pretty harsh. I think if you neglect to plan, you get valuable feedback about the importance of planning).
What does a good meal look like?
Before diving into meal prep. We need to know what a good meal looks like.
A good meal has:
1-2 palms of lean protein like chicken, turkey, fish, beef, venison or pork
1-2 thumbs fat from things like almonds, olive oil, coconut oil or flax
1-2 fists of vegetables like brussel sprouts, peppers or tomatoes
1-2 cupped handfuls of smart carbs like spelt, quinoa, steel cut oats or berries.
Precision Nutrition put out an awesome diagram on what that looks like:
(Photo from precision nutrition weekly meal prep infographic)
The 4-step meal prep sequence
A. Plan your meals
Taking time to build out a menu for the week is essential to the process of dropping fat,
gaining high-voltage energy,
and getting back in shape.
Take a look at your schedule and see what meals you will need to prepare,
Look to include minimally processed, whole foods.
As in, foods that have not undergone substantial processing in order to make it to the grocery store.
A good rule of thumb for this is to look for foods with
i. no packaging
ii. less than 5 ingredients if they are packaged
Whole foods are packed with nutrients and take more energy to digest.
This, in turn, contributes to you looking and feeling goooood!
Also, don’t forget to include lean protein, colourful fruits and vegetables, smart carbs and healthy fats in your menu.
Finally, pick dishes that you like,
your family likes
and that are delicious and nutritious.
In fact, why not include your family in the process?
Don’t forget to think about spices you can use,
aromatics you can include
and garnishes you can throw into your meals to make them more awesome!
Convert those menu items into a grocery list and step one is done!
With your menu planned out for the week and your grocery list in hand,
you’re ready to go.
The age-old tip of grocery store shopping is to work the periphery of the store for things like meat and produce and to only visit the aisles for things like:
oats and grains,
and spices and seasonings.
Nonetheless, make grocery shopping an experience!
Take your kids with you and have them pick out a new fruit they haven’t had before.
Get them to pick out 3 different colours of vegetables.
Or even take them to a Farmer’s market to pick out some in-season, fresh, local eats (you’ll save some money eating in-season fruits and vegetables too).
Make it a game.
They’ll be more likely to eat the food they were involved in selecting.
And hey, involve them in the cooking of that grub and your kids will be crushing healthy food day and night.
Better start preparing your mom-of-the-year acceptance speech now (once you finish this article of course).
C. Prepare / cook
This is where the rubber meets the road.
We usually do a cook on Sundays and Wednesdays.
That works best for our schedules.
What this does is allow us to do a big cook on Sunday for grains, veggies and meat
And then another cook on Wednesday for veggies and grains again.
i. grains usually last 3 days in the fridge and since I hate the taste of frozen grains, we stick to that.
ii. we cook our meat for the week and freeze that.
That’s what we found success with.
Again, use what works for your schedule.
Nonetheless, the actual preparation can be a great family bonding experience.
Have your kids cutting and washing vegetables.
Have your spouse grilling the meat,
And you can stay on top of the grains.
And don’t feel the need to stick to the same old cooking methods.
You can steam,
or use a cast iron pan.
Again, make it an experience for you and your whole family.
Find a love for home-cooked food that you lost.
And if you’re a newbie to the meal prep game, find 3-5 go-to meals that you can get your feet wet whipping up.
Beans/lentils with seasoning
Once you’re all done prepping,
Store the grub.
Again, we do grains and vegetables for 3 days at a time, so they go in the fridge.
The meat we’ll eat for the next 2-3 days also goes in the fridge.
The rest of the meat goes in the freezer.
But, do what works best for you.
Maybe you need to do shorter preps every 2 days.
Or maybe you only have one day to prepare for the week….totally cool!
Do your thang!
Make it work for you and your family.
A note on easy, on-the-go meals
For you super-busy folks that need some quick, grab-and-go type-meals, here are a few suggestions:
-Fire up some mason jar salads
-Whip up some cottage cheese and fruit
-Boil up some eggs to have ready-to-go
-Buy pre-washed vegetables or salad
-Pick up ready-to-eat vegetables and fruits (carrots, brocolli, celery, cucumber, apples, berries or cut-up pineapple)
-Canned beans and lentils make life easy
-Grab a rotisserie-style whole chicken
Berardi’s first law states that:
“If a food is in your house or possession, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate will eventually eat it”
The corollary to Berardi’s first law is:
“If a healthy food is in your house or possession, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate will eventually eat it”
Dropping fat, looking good and having energy to be an awesome parent are all excellent, worthwhile, achievable goals.
You just need to structure your environment to be conducive to those goals.
That includes the foods you have in your house.
And not just in your house, but in your house and ready-to-eat.
It’s so easy to grab food that is ready-to-go.
Just make sure it’s the right food that’s ready-to-go.