Are you ready to begin meal prepping but aren’t sure where to start? I’ve been there. To be honest, it took me a while to find what worked best for me, especially because I don’t love cooking.
I enjoy meal prepping because it saves me time during the week and my sanity when I need to eat ASAP. To have things ready to throw together or heat up for lunch has been game-changing, especially for my fitness goals.
Here I’ll lay out the main reasons for meal prepping, essential items that will help the process, and some other great things to know if you’re trying to get into meal prep.
The four main reasons for meal prepping
- Productivity: Cooking each day can be a pain in the ass. Meal prepping takes that away by cooking 1-2 days a week.
- Consistency: You’re setting yourself up to stick to a plan and keep your goals on track.
- Portion Control: Setting aside the right portions is needed to hit your goals and make sure you’re eating the right amount for your body.
- Save Money: You won’t have to worry about buying lunch each day or stopping by the grocery store for one meal after work, just to buy a whole cartload.
Step 1: Gather your items that help with meal prepping
First, you’ll want to make sure you have the right tools on hand to make the process go smoothly. The materials for easier meal prepping include:
- Measuring cups: For measuring ingredients and accurately tracking your macros.
- Food scale: To measure portions correctly and better track your specific food intake.
- Reusable containers: A must. Try to get containers that will work with the space you have in your refrigerator. Glass ones are ideal, as they are BPA free and won’t hold odors. I also got great ones at Costco which you can see above.
- Spiralizer (Vegetti): I love this little tool. It’s my go to for making zoodles. The only downside is that it’s a little tougher to clean.
- Rice Cooker: You don’t need this, but it’s easy to make rice when prepping other items.
- Crockpot: The crockpot is something everyone should have in their kitchen. You barely have to do anything besides grab the ingredients and plop them in to make a meal.
Step 2: Know your macros
Second, it’s important to know your macros before you meal prep. The numbers vary for every single person. You can calculate your macros here: https://www.katyhearnfit.com/macro-calculator.
The macros that are calculated will show the exact amount in grams for each. In other words, your macros are the grams of fat, carbs, and protein you should be getting each day according to your goals.
Sticking to these numbers will help your body function with the goal you set in place. You don’t have to be extremely strict with it, but try to stay close within the numbers if you want to see results.
For tracking purposes, I use the MyFitnessPal app to enter in specific measurements and hit my macros. I’ll explain in more detail in this post, but tracking goes hand in hand with your macros.
Step 3: Make a meal plan
Third, before you actually start shopping and cooking, you’ll want to plan out your meals. You can check out my previous post here which includes a meal planner and grocery list to make the process easier!
Whether you’re looking to create prepped smoothie packs or an entire meal, write it out. This will help you know exactly what you need to buy and what to cook.
When creating your plan, you’ll also need to set aside time on a day or two that work best for prepping. This may also be the day when you go shopping for everything on your list.
Step 4: Grocery shopping
With the plan in place, you’ll want to check what you already have on hand before you head to the store.
Once you’re shopping, try to stick to the perimeter of the store. This includes your produce, proteins, dairy and deli needs. It’s been said the perimeter of the store is where you’ll find the best items for helping keep you healthy. Of course, there are tons of exceptions, but it’s the essentials!
Next, head into the aisles to stock up on staples like brown rice, eggs, frozen veggies, and frozen fruits. You can make so much from these items and even create meals with these items alone.
Step 5: Prepare and store your meals
Now that you have your ingredients, it’s time to get cooking! There are a ton of different methods when it comes to meal prepping, such as making freezer meals, making each meal individually, or just prepping the ingredients in bulk to create later. Decide what’s best for you.
I like to cook on Sunday and Wednesday. I’ll make a whole package of chicken on the grill, roast veggies, cook rice and then put the components together to create something different for the days of the week. This could be creating a salad with these ingredients, a stir fry, or adding them into a lettuce wrap.
It helps to start with things that could be used in other meals throughout the week. When you pack your meals, do so in airtight containers that are reusable, dishwasher and microwave safe.
Step 6: Track Your Meals
Lastly, it’s important to track your meals and specific macros. Below you’ll see my breakfast tracked in the My Fitness Pal app. The top section will show how many calories I should consume with the number in green how many I have left.
Once you start tracking and measuring, you’ll also get used to the portions and likely be able to eye it out within time. Tracking just helps you to be sure you’re getting what your body needs.
In this app, you can add in each meal, as well as snacks. Then you can view your total nutrition consumed for the day. This will show you if you’re hitting your targeted macros which you can see how I did below.
If you don’t already have My Fitness Pal, I highly recommend it as a tool for tracking your food. Keeping track helps as a food log, as well as a way to ensure you’re getting a good amount of nutrients into your body.
Note: Tracking can also be done in the planning stage. This will help me tweak my measurements to meet my macros. It’s also a good way for me to refer back to it to have a good guideline.
Getting Closer to Your Goals
Now know the best process for meal prep, it’s time for you to get shit done. You’re the only one who can make changes happen. If you have fitness goals, your nutrition plays a huge role in making sure you achieve them.
Meal prep is worth the time and effort. You will save time in the long run, money, AND fuel your body well. It encourages you to eat healthier and stay on track with your goals.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or other tips that could help us out!