Over the past week or two, I’ve been reaching out to readers and social media followers trying to find out what’s the most pressing concern or question regarding getting healthy. There were a TON of meal prep questions from people who want to get started but have no idea where to actually begin.
So, in response to the questions I’ve received, and because i think the benefits of meal prep are countless, I’m going to spend this fall focusing on meal prep and creating simple steps to build your confidence and skill in meal prep.
The first thing I want to start with is by answering the most common meal prep questions I have received because if my small sampling is asking these same questions, than I know more people have them as well. My hope is to clear up any confusion and misconceptions out there about meal prep!
Please reach out to me if you have any questions that I haven’t answered!
On to the most common questions I’ve received so far!
How long does food last?
The FDA has a great, simple guide that lays out their recommendations for how long food can last. I have actually printed this for quick reference and use it along with my own intuition.
Do You Eat the Same Thing Every Day?
Yes, for breakfast, I do eat the same thing almost every day. Usually there’s one day a week that I Do. Not. Want. Eggs. Again. Nope. Nada, no more! So, I don’t have eggs. I have created a list of go to items that I can have instead. My high protein breakfast that is not eggs gives a list of high protein breakfast items sans eggs!
For lunch and dinner, I don’t always eat the same thing either…sort of. I will eat the protein I have made, but just use it in different ways. I meal prep a bit different from other people. Over the next six to eight weeks, I am going to go into WAY more detail how I meal prep! But, simple answer, no, I don’t. Although, life gets WAY easier if you don’t mind eating the same thing day in and day out.
What do I Need to Get Started Meal Prepping?
Containers. Plastic BPA containers like these or glass storage containers like these work well. There is a significant price difference between plastic and glass. The weight of glass might be a negative, especially if you will be carrying them around a lot.
Another thing to ask yourself is how much you want to break up your food in term of individual containers? I work from home. So, all my proteins are in one large container, my rice in its own large container, my oatmeal in a different one. But, I bought some of the 3 divided containers from Amazon last week, especially for my husband, who needs to bring lunch two days a week.
As I try out this set of 3 divided containers over the next few weeks, I might change my mind. Honestly, though, go with what seems EASIEST to YOU, NOT PRETTIEST. Come on, we all have seen those awesome meal prep pictures of full containers laid across a counter, all ready for the week. Although, stunning, those pictures overwhelm the heck out of me!
Do you meal plan, shop, and meal prep in one day?
Nope. I’d throw in the towel right out of the gate. Some people can and do, and if you think you have the stamina, that’s fantastic!
I meal plan throughout the week using Plan to Eat (I toss things on to my menu when I have a few minutes here and there). I shop one day and meal prep the next day. I’ve tried shopping and cooking in one day. I end up going out to eat after cooking all that food. Kind of defeats the purpose!
Sometimes, I will chop all the produce the day I shop so that the cooking process the next day goes MUCH easier!
How long do I need to for meal prep?
It varies. So many people think meal prep is planning and prepping ALL meals for an ENTIRE week. BUT, it doesn’t have to be that in depth or complicated. To be honest, I’ve done that a handful of times and hate it, hate it, hate it! HATE. IT.
Meal prep can be as simple as chopping vegetables for your meals for the entire week. It can be making a big salad for each day. It can be making a big pot of soup.
Meal prep can be cooking all your protein for the next 3-4 days. You can cook all your carbs for several days (oats, potatoes, rice, oatmeal, grits, quinoa, etc…)
Make a big batch of egg muffins or bake healthy protein muffins for your breakfasts.
Those are ALL meal prep and you can do as little or as much as you want/can on your meal prep days. Anything you can do ahead of time can make your week go smoother, so meal prep is whatever you can do in the time you have for that week or for those few days.
How do I plan a healthy meal without counting calories?
Start with simplicity! Unless you are on a very special diet, think of each meal having
- Leafy Greens – Spinach, chard, kale,
- Brussel Sprouts
- The list goes on!
Pair a protein with a vegetable with a carbohydrate. If you’re eating whole foods, not frying them in oil, you will be doing so much better than most people. I usually have at least 1 cup of veggies with about 4 ounces or protein and anywhere from 1/2-1 cup of a carbohydrate.
Meal prep, at the end of the day, can be as intricate or as simple as you have time and energy to commit. I hope, over the next several weeks, to show that ANYONE can meal prep and it doesn’t have to kill an entire day if you don’t want!
Meal Prep Doesn’t Have to be Boring!!
At the end of the day, meal prep is a flexible idea that can be utilized to save you time, money, and possibly help improve your health. I think many people get so overwhelmed because the options are limitless but also carry this notion that meal prep is boring and repetitive. To take the next step, I have created a simple Meal Prep Without Getting Bored (CLICK HERE) to get this absolutely free!