I hope you are still on track with your fitness goals as we end the first full week of the new year. One great way to stay on track is to have your meals prepared in advance. This prevents those last minute trips to the drive-thru, which can derail the commitment you made to yourself to eat healthy.
With the weekend approaching, this would be a great time to share with you how I prepare my meals for the week. If you don’t already have a meal plan prepared for you, take some time to research and determine what meals you will be eating for the week or month based upon your fitness goals, and then start your grocery list. If you are having trouble determining the right foods to incorporate into your plan, I have listed a few resources at the bottom of this post. Otherwise, you can do some research on your own by reviewing fitness magazines, website, blogs, etc.
Here are the four steps to successful meal prep:
In order to stick to a meal plan, well… it actually has to be planned. So, once your menu is created and you have everything you need from the grocery store, it is time to prep. Helpful hint- It is best to buy most of your items, especially meats, in bulk. I will explain why at the end.
I usually do my grocery shopping on a Saturday and prep on Sunday, so that the prep process occurs before the work week begins. Be sure to set aside at least two hours for your weekly meal prep time. To begin, I set out everything I need and refer to my list to make sure I don’t miss anything.
First, I start with the meats. This month, chicken breast, lean ground beef, tilapia, and ground turkey are the meats on my plan. For the chicken breast, I put a package (five pounds) of chicken breast in the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours with 2 1/2- 3 cups of water. Before I put the chicken in, I wipe the inside down with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) so that it will be easy to clean once it is done. You have the option of adding seasoning.
Next, I pre-heat my oven at 350 degrees for the remaining meats and asparagus. I put one package (five pounds) of lean ground beef in an aluminum foil lined meatloaf dish and poke holes in the meat with my fingers to ensure it cooks all the way through. I do the same for the ground turkey. For the tilapia and asparagus, I line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the fish side by side on two cookie sheets and one layer of asparagus on another two cookie sheets.
Just like the chicken breast, seasoning your meat is optional. If I were using seasoning, I would sprinkle some Mrs. Dash on the beef and turkey and drizzle EVOO on the tilapia and asparagus, along with a pinch of sea salt. As I am training, seasoning (except for sea salt), has been eliminated from my meal plan. Seasoning tends to increase my appetite and I don’t want to start snacking between meals with Nationals coming up.
The beef and turkey will cook for about an hour and a half (drain the liquid from both at about the 45 minute mark) and the asparagus will cook for about 15 minutes. Once the asparagus is done (tender), I put the tilapia in to cook for about 20 minutes (until white all the way through).
Once everything has been cooked, I begin the separation and storage process.
While the chicken is still hot, the water is drained from the crock pot and shredded with a fork. To shred, stab the breasts and twist. Continue the stab and twist motion until most of the chicken is shredded, then go through the chicken with comb-like motions with the fork to completely shred all of the chicken. Shredded chicken is easier to work with than whole breasts when weighing for individual meals and when frozen.
Once the ground beef and turkey are done and cools off a bit, I slice the meat with the spatula into loaf-like pieces. I slice them into loaves to make it easy to divide into the meals and easy to break off when frozen.
Then, I eyeball how much meat I will need for the next three days and place that amount in a plastic container and set aside. Then, I put the remaining meat in freezer bags. Because there is so much chicken, I put it in three separate freezer bags and separate the bag in half by splitting it down the middle through the top of the bag, as shown below. This saves freezer bags and also means that I don’t have to defrost a whole bag of chicken, which will ultimately go bad. By creating the separation in the bag, I can remove a smaller amount from the bag without defrosting the whole thing.
As you can see, buying in bulk not only saves meal prep time (I will have enough meat for at least 2-3 weeks), but it also saves money. The key is making sure you freeze what you don’t need.
4. Three Day Meal Prep
I lay out nine plastic containers (three columns of three containers) and begin to prepare enough meals for three days at work, which means that I will have three individually prepared meals for work. I distribute each food item in their respective container with each column of containers representing the same meal.
The remaining two meals for my day will be stored in the fridge. The food for meals after Wednesday will be stored in the freezer until Tuesday night. On Wednesday, I will prepare meals for the remainder of the work week.
With the exception of asparagus and sometimes spinach, I buy my veggies frozen and in bulk. This saves money, cutting and chopping time. With frozen veggies, I never have to worry about them going bad. Also, I know that they were frozen at the peak of their freshness.
I also buy most of my fruit frozen and in bulk for the same reasons as above. The blueberries, strawberries, mangoes, and pineapples I use can be purchased all year round and cheaper than fresh fruit, most of the time. I especially like to buy frozen fruit for use in my smoothies because it makes the smoothie thicker just like ice does.
Check out my previous post on how I prepare and store bananas.
I did not mention the other items that I had prepared in advance:
Chopped two sweet potatoes and stored in a plastic container in the fridge (do not freeze as it will turn black and rot)
Chopped two zucchinis and stored them in a plastic container in the fridge. I usually buy these frozen, but I was unable to find them at my grocery store this particular day.
As promised, here are a few resources you can use in planning out what you will have on your meal plan:
You can also sign up to join the team I’m on- Team Bombshell! They have programs for both competitors and non-competitors just looking to get fit. There’s a fun fitness camp coming up in a few weeks. Click here for more information.
Stay tuned for healthy meal and snack ideas!
“The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare.”- Bobby Knight
What are some ways you prepare you meals for the week?
**Disclaimer- Remember to consult your physician before starting any meal or exercise plan.
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