From BB Guest Contributor Yenory Pouncil of iAmHealthyFit:
I’ve been meal prepping for almost seven years. During the last three years, I’ve been meal prepping for my now husband and me. That translates to roughly 28 meals per week not including breakfast and snacks. Yes, that a whole lot of food. Before we get into how to, let’s talk about why you should meal prep.
I first heard the term meal prep in 2011 when I moved back to the US, after spending a year in my native land of Honduras. I was roughly a year into my healthy living journey, and although I did not know it at the time, meal prepping was already a part of my life.
So, what is meal prepping anyways?
When most people think about meal prep, they picture a fridge full of fancy containers with meals for the week. And yes, that is part of the process of meal prepping, but there is more to this art form. Meal prepping is any action that you take to prepare your food, and it begins the moment you decide to you are going, to cook.
Meal prepping includes:
- Selecting Recipes
- Grocery Shopping
- Prepping Your Food
- Food Storage
Let’s learn how you to meal prep like a boss for you and bae!
Set aside a couple of hours to prep the food. When I cook for my husband and me for the entire week, it takes me about 3 – 4 hours. If you want to cook for three days instead of 7 you can do it in 1.5 – 2 hours.
Depending on your household, I recommend limiting yourself to two – three recipes. This will help you avoid getting overwhelmed. I am convinced that I married a unicorn who likes to eat the same thing for lunch and dinner or maybe my food is just that good (IJS). My husband is addicted to baked salmon, cilantro lime brown rice, and broccoli. Where does that leave his vegan wife? She is exploring new recipes!
Since I like to try different dishes for lunch and dinner, I use three recipes every week. My husband’s recipe is my own, so I enjoy trying what other healthy chefs are up to especially now that I am vegan.
To find recipes, start by making a list that includes the dishes you love, your favorite fruits and your favorite vegetables. Then research recipes that include items on your list.
Tip #1: Make healthier substitutions, for example instead of white rice, use quinoa or wild rice both are rich in protein and are better choices.
Tip #2: Decide how many meals you want to prep in advance. Make sure you adjust the recipes for your meal prep. If you are cooking for three days, schedule a second day to cook during the week.
Tip #3: Start with small batches especially for new recipes.
I am currently in love with the 28-Day Plant-Powered Health Reboot you can add meat to any of these recipes, but they are delicious without it. Great place for first-timers. You can also check out some of my own recipes.
Once you have your recipes, is time to go shopping.
First thing is first, have a snack.
DO NOT GO TO THE GROCERY STORE HUNGRY.
The grocery store is designed to make you buy everything you do not need. Guard your pockets with a shopping list and try to spend most of your time in the produce section. This a perfect place to mix things up. Get a variety of fruits and nuts for your snacks. Grab two snacks per day; I usually do pumpkin seeds and grapes. I have my grapes in the morning to give my body more time to digest the sugar and my pumpkin seeds in the afternoon.
Encourage your bae to come with you to the store. It will help them see that this is important to you and it will help you get an ally at home. Accountability will also help you stick to your list!
Here is my go to grocery list to get you started.
Tip: Avoid aisles that do not include items on your list!
Now that we got the groceries it is time to cook.
Prepping Your Food
Separate your ingredients by recipes; it will help you visualize how much work is ahead of you and help you stay organized.
Start with the recipes that take more time. I always start with the cilantro lime brown rice. Brown rice takes hours to cook, especially when you are cooking 5 cups of it. By cooking it first, I can get other items done while it cooks; this is an excellent way to complete different dishes at the same time. While the rice is cooking, I prep the salmon and bake it. While the salmon is cooking, I move onto the broccoli, which is sautéed with garlic and spices.
By the time the broccoli is done, all the ingredients for my husband’s meals are ready for storing. I move on to my dishes. These days I am into vegan enchiladas and salads which are a good balance of meal prep work and flavors for my day!
Tip: Start by completing one recipe at the time, it will help you stay focused and move faster.
As your food cooks, start setting aside your containers, this will help you control your portions. When we serve our foods when we are hungry, we always serve more than needed. I recommend you portion your meals in advanced. It will help you prevent overeating. Start with smaller portions and add more if needed.
Let’s talk about containers. You do not need fancy containers. However, I highly recommend using glass containers. Glass containers, unlike plastic, help keep your food fresh by preventing chemicals from leaking into your food when heating your meals.
Most of my recipes last for 5 – 7 days in the fridge.
Tip: Be patient. Mastering the art of meal prepping takes time, and trial and error.
I hope you found these tips helpful and I look forward to seeing your meal prep photos on social media using hashtag #iamhealthyfit!
Yenory is the creator of iAmHealthyFit. She prides herself in teaching and empowering women of color to eat clean, meal prep, exercise and balance healthy living. Stay in touch with Yenory on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.