Check out our easy meal-prepping tips, used by KD Trainer’s most successful clients. And learn how to have healthy meals ready whenever you need it.
Most people already know that to lose fat, eating sensible, balanced meals on a consistent basis is key.
The question we get asked in return, “But how do I do that, consistently, without spending so much time cooking every day?”
“By the time I got home, cook dinner, eat it and clean up, it’s already bedtime…” – Not so fun huh?
Enter Meal Prepping!
Meal prepping is a popular meal planning method of preparing complete meals or dishes ahead of time. Often days or even weeks worth of food in advance.
You must be thinking “Eww! No.”
Realistically speaking, you have been eating such foods your whole life; meal prepping is extensively used in the food industry everywhere!
The soup you were drinking? Prepped 2 months ago and frozen. The grilled chicken/fish? It has been sitting in the refrigerator for days.
When done properly, meal prepping is perfectly safe; nutritionally and taste-wise.
Just think of it as organizing leftovers for instant meals.
Here are some benefits of meal prepping:
- Healthy, well-balanced meals whenever you need it!
- Actually saves time. Cooking in a big batch, as compared to going out, driving through traffic and queuing up to get your meals – ultimately takes less time.
- Helps with weight loss, you get to decide the ingredients and food portion.
- Variety and great taste are all in your hands!
There are many ways to go about meal prepping, this article will explore and break down this process into a few easy steps!
I’m ready! How do I start?
First, knowing what a healthy, balanced meal looks like. This is what your plate should look like every meal.
There’s no point in meal prepping if you’re just going to prep nutritionally-bankrupt meals.
However, if your goal is weight loss, how many calories you eat is still more important than what you eat.
Next, you will need reusable, airtight food containers that will help your meals stay fresh longer and taste better by keeping oxygen, moisture, and bacteria out.
*BONUS TIP* ~ Because we love you. Here are 3 ways for you to meal prep:
- Batch cooking
- Making large batches/portions of a specific recipe, then frozen, saved up and eaten over the next few days/weeks.
- Individually portioned meals
- Entire dishes cooked and portioned out into individual meals to be refrigerated and eaten over the next few days.
- Ready-to-cook ingredients
- Ingredients and components chopped, peeled, sliced or cooked and refrigerated to be used in recipes later on. This cuts down on cooking time.
Let’s get cookin’
- Decide the meal you’d like to prep for – Breakfast, lunch or dinner. Start with the meal that you usually eat out, or tend to overeat due to lack of self-control and choice.
- Pick a day to meal prep – Sunday and/or Wednesday are good choices.
- Decide how much you want to prep – You can choose to prep for 3 to 5 days worth of meal at a time. It’s up to you, but we recommend you start with 2 or 3 days and slowly increase as your familiarity and consistency with the menu improves.
- Pick your recipe – Ideally, you should go for more healthful recipes that do not involve deep frying, processed foods and fatty cuts of meat. But you can base them around foods you generally enjoy.
- Grocery shopping – Write down the grocery list, how much of each ingredient do you need based on how many meals you want to prep for, and do your shopping.
The easiest foods to prep
- Frozen vegetables – Peas, carrot, green beans, edamame, cauliflower. And contrary to popular belief that frozen vegetables have no nutrients; most are no different nutritionally compared to fresh ones.
- Starchy veggies – Potato, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and etc.
- Stiff fresh vegetables – celery, carrots, bell peppers, cabbage, radish
- Prepped salads – You can find individually packed salads and bagged vegetables at most supermarkets.
- Whole grains – Oats, quinoa, barley, buckwheat, brown rice.
- Legumes & beans – Lentils, all beans(canned or dried), chickpeas, and etc
- Lean protein – Frozen or canned seafood, eggs, greek yogurt, tofu, lean cuts of chicken, beef, pork, and etc.
- Nuts and seeds – Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chia, flax and etc.
How to make cooking easier
- Organize your cooking workflow. Having recipes that use different cooking appliances: the oven for baking proteins, stovetop for boiling grains or beans and frying vegetables, slow cooker for soups. This helps to avoid clashing in appliance usage and speeds up your cooking time.
- On meal prep day, start with foods that take the longest to cook – proteins like chicken and fish; whole grains like brown rice and quinoa; and dried beans and legumes.
- Multi-task while your proteins and whole grains are baking and bubbling. Chop and dice up your vegetables and fruits.
- Divide into balanced portions and store them into your air-tight food containers. This is a crucial part if your goal is weight loss.
Each meal should have 1 to 2 servings of protein, 2 to 3 servings of vegetables and fruits, 1 serving of carbohydrate and 1 serving of fat/oil.
Here are some balanced serving sizes compared to common items to help you estimate your portion sizes:
- 1 serving of carbs- rice, noodle, potato (1 cup): a deck of cards.
- 1 serving of protein (100 grams lean meat): a deck of cards.
- 1 serving of fat- cheese/butter (15 gram): The size of your thumb.
- 1 serving of fresh fruit (1/2 cup): a tennis ball.
- 1 serving of green leafy vegetables (1/2 cup): a tennis ball
- 1 serving of vegetables (1 cup): the size of your palm.
- 1 teaspoon of oil (10gram): 1 fingertip.
Storage and Reheating
Food storage and reheating is the most important part of meal prepping, to prevent food poisoning and to preserve flavour, texture, and nutrients.
- Refrigeration temperature – Keep your refrigerator below 5°C and freezer at -18°C or below.
- Recommended maximum refrigeration time:
- 1-2 days: Cooked ground meat
- 3-4 days: Cooked whole meats, soups and stews
- 5 days: Cooked beans, legumes
- 1 week: Hard boiled eggs, chopped vegetables if stored in air-tight containers
- Recommended maximum freezing time:
- 2-3 months: Soups and stews, cooked beans
- 3-6 months: Cooked meat
- 6-8 months: Berries and chopped fruit
- 8-12 months: Vegetables
- Defrosting and Reheating:
- Frozen foods should be defrosted in the refrigerator overnight, instead of leaving it in a room-temperature environment.
- All foods should be reheated to at least 75°C before eating.
- You may want to label or date your food containers so you will be reminded to consume them within the recommended time period.
The Bottom Line
Meal prepping is amazing in so many ways, not only does it save you time in the kitchen and money, but also improving your health with a more nutritionally balanced diet.
Trying to change your eating and lifestyle habits in order to get fit can seem impossible to sustain.
Which is why we have a team of certified health and fitness professionals (certified personal trainers and registered dietitians) to help our personal training clients.
Want to learn easy meal prep recipes, exercise and more?
Now you too have access to our team of life changers! In our Fit-From-Home program!