Now that you've mastered grocery shopping, it's time to master the kitchen.
I'll be the first to admit that meal prepping can be frustrating. The first time I attempted "meal prepping" I spent an hour grocery shopping, and 6 hours in the kitchen cutting, chopping, cooking, weighing, and cleaning. I share this with you because I do not want this to be you.
Like any habit, the more you meal prep, the faster you will become. Here are my quick and easy meal prep tips to help you spend less time in the kitchen, and more time doing what makes you happy.
Pro Tip #1: Have a Plan
Before you can meal prep effectively and efficiently, you must have a plan. What meals will you be needing this week? Do you need to prepare breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks each day? Will you be eating on the road, at home with family, or out at an event? Once you know how many meals you will be preparing, have a general estimate of how much food you will need per meal in terms of quantity of macronutrients - proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Pro Tip #2: Start with the Protein
Typically, protein and any starchy carbs will take the longest to cook. Start the oven, or barbecue and get your meat and starchy carbs ready to cook. Once you have done this, sanitize the kitchen, pop your protein in the oven, and begin the remainder of your meal prepping while your protein is cooking.
Simple Idea's: Cook chicken in oven, brown turkey meat or lean ground beef on the stove, hard boil eggs, barbecue steak or chicken breasts, saute strips of chicken or beef for stir fry.
Pro Tip #3: Maximize Your Time
After you get your protein cooking, you can maximize your time and your kitchen by also using your stove and other oven racks. Layer a tray with tinfoil and toss your vegetables in some olive oil and place them on another rack in the oven, or steam your vegetables on another burner on the stove. The more you get used to meal prepping, the more you will be able to multi-task and cut down on the time it will take. While everything is cooking you can wash and measure any fruit, nuts, or other sides that will round out your meals and snacks.
Pro Tip #4: Assembly Line
Have your containers out and ready to go. As you chop, you can put all of your meals in the appropriate places. You may organize your containers by days of the week (Monday - Friday), or by meal (all breakfasts together, lunches together, etc). This way, you can see the week ahead of you right before your eyes.
Pro Tip #5: KISS - Keep It Stupid Simple
If you're in a hurry, or find meal prepping overwhelming, keep it as simple as possible. Buying a roasted chicken and peeling off the skin, or adding a can of tuna to a salad can be a quick and easy protein solution. Save time on chopping by purchasing pre-cut or frozen vegetables when you need. You can now buy individual portions of guacamole, hummus, and peanut butter making packing, and eating on the go convenient when short on time.
Pro Tip #6:
Have a cooler, lunch bag, or proper storage and travel system for your food. The last thing you want is your food spoiling, or leaking in your bag, car, or office. There are many different storage options. For relatively cheap you can purchase ice packs and lunch bags at Wal-mart. For more fashionable, or travel friendly bags, my personal favourite is 6-pack bags, which can be found online at https://www.sixpackbags.com/.
Watch the video below for my favourite bags, and check out Facebook on Friday for a video of me in the kitchen sharing my meal prep routine.
Stay Tuned! Come back next week, as I will be sharing my easy "hacks" and quick and delicious time saving idea's (think taco salad, and extra ways to quickly and conveniently add nutrients into your food).