Meal prepping helps you build and maintain a healthy lifestyle. When you have a nutritious meal ready when you need it, you’re less likely to reach for an unhealthy vending machine snack or make a fast food stop.
You might think you don’t have the time to commit to meal prepping, but Sarah Schafer, Medical Weight Loss Clinic’s Canton manager, says if you have an hour or two to watch TV, you have an hour or two to prep your meals for the week.
Here are some of Sarah’s tips for how to set yourself up for success with meal prepping to make it a regular part of your healthy living routine.
Meal Prep Your Way
There are several ways to meal prep. Find what’s right for you. One popular approach is to prepare, cook and portion out a few meals into different containers.
Sarah prefers to do a “batch cooking day.” She picks one day a week — Sunday is popular for many people — to spend an hour or two cooking all of her food basics for the week that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of meals. Stock up on groceries for your meal plan's requirements, but emphasize variety, she says. Pick up at least three different proteins, some eggs, four different veggies, and at least a few starches.
Sarah's 4 Steps for Simple Meal Prepping:
Get your workstation ready. Fire up the grill (or grill pans for indoor grilling), get the slow cooker out and pre-heat the oven. Place a couple pots on the stove.
Prepare proteins. Season several servings of chicken breast and grill it all at once. Boil a dozen eggs and peel, store in an airtight container with water. Brown ground beef or ground turkey in a pan and store it in a container. Stick a roast in the slow cooker with prepared MWLC Chicken Bouillon Fiber, and let it cook.
PARTIALLY cook a few veggies ahead of time. Sarah likes to keep bags of frozen broccoli, frozen green beans, and frozen cauliflower in her freezer at all times. Empty the contents of a bag into a microwaveable dish and add 1-2 tablespoons water, then cover and microwave for four to five minutes. Store each vegetable in its own container.
Pre-cook all your starches. Roast sweet potatoes in the oven. Cook a pot of brown rice or quinoa. Steam a bag of plain, frozen corn in the microwave. Store each starch in its own container.
Now, you have all these plain ingredients cooked and ready to build into meals later in the week!
Try Mason Jar Salads for an Easy On-The-Go Meal
When it comes to making a full meal in advance, Sarah says mason jar salads are a great choice. They are simple, quick to make and healthy!
Get several quart-sized mason jars with lids and layer your salad ingredients with dressing at the bottom and stacking ingredients from hardest to soft. Here’s an example of how to assemble a mason jar salad:
Layer 1: Dressing
Layer 2: Protein
Layer 3: Crunchy, hard vegetables
Layer 4: More delicate ingredients, like tomatoes.
Layer 5: Lettuce or other greens
Then just shake it up and put your salad on a plate to enjoy!
Keep Meal Staples on Hand
It’s a great idea to stock up on your most commonly used and hard-to-find ingredients. This way, you have them when you need them and you can be ready to cook, even if you don’t have time to get to the store.
Meal prep staples Sarah recommends to always have on hand are:
Fresh meats, stored in the freezer. Buy when they are on sale, put them in the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator one or two days before use.
Frozen bags of vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, kale, green beans are great to have on hand. You can even buy sliced onion and bell peppers for sautéing.
Brown rice, quinoa, cous cous, wild rice. For the best deals, buy these grains from the bulk bin and store in containers.
Sweet potatoes. They stay fresh in the pantry for so long!
Diet snack crackers. Portion them into snack bags so they’re ready to grab anytime.
Light English muffins. Store them in the freezer for a quick re-heat. Top with an egg and slice of tomato for quick breakfast.
Get Perishable Items on your Weekly Grocery Trip Aim to buy perishable items that don’t require much prep. Good examples of these foods are:
A container of spring mix greens. There’s no need to cut/wash lettuce; just place paper towel over greens and close the container. This will absorb excess moisture and prolong shelf life.
Bags of apples, oranges, and grapes. Wash them, grab and go!
Eggs, fresh or already hardboiled/peeled.
If you are ready to begin your weight loss journey and develop a personalized meal plan, contact Medical Weight Loss Clinic today, and we’ll help you get succeed! Book your free consultation here or call 248-353-8446.