Meal Prepping for Beginners
We all know meal prepping is a critical part of any Instagram worthy Sunday. And it’s also integral in preparing for a successful workweek. Crafting your menu and meals in advance aids in weight loss, time management, the avoidance of decision fatigue and money savings. But it can be overwhelming and frankly, a chore! #kitgirls don’t be dismayed – we’ve got you covered with some basics tips and ways your planner can set you up for success!
At Team KIT, we’ve created tools to support you! Specifically, we have our Meal Prep Pads and Nutrition Tracker Stickers both of which can help you plan and execute healthy foods in advance. You know we believe that they key to getting the most benefit from your planner is to utilize it for everything. So, carry it with you to the kitchen and get to steppin’ – errr - preppin'!
First things first - plan out what recipes you’ll be making for the week. One side of your meal prep pad has the days listed on it so you can identify your daily eats. The other side is you market list and allows you to list your needed food items; sorted by grocery section or theme. Once you’ve completed both sides of your Meal Prep pad you’re ready to shop! My “no-brainer” menu generally looks like this: overnight oats for breakfast, a mason jar salad for lunch, and a well-rounded meal for dinner.
(Insert picture of planned out recipes – on meal prep pad)
Keep in mind that when shopping you’ll need enough ingredients to make your recipe multiple times. This is where buying in bulk comes in handy so be on the lookout for those BOGO’s ladies! The perfect prepped meal contains a couple servings of vegetables/fruit, a lean protein, and non-refined starch. It’s also one that will travel well, can be placed in an easy to eat from container and will stay fresh and inviting to eat for several days.
Here’s the list of healthy options I pick and choose from for each week’s meals
Veggie “meat” crumbles
Lean, white fish
Multigrain or whole wheat pasta
(inset picture of planner with grocery list on it)
After all the planning and grocery shopping is done, it’s time to cook! Of course, being organized is key. First off – I clear out the fridge – getting rid of any leftovers from the week prior and making room for the healthy items I’m about to prepare. I like to make a separate station for all of my breakfast ingredients, lunch ingredients, and dinner ingredients. I lay down white “bar towels” or “tea towels” over a good portion of my counter space so that clean up is easier. You can buy these thin white towels at Costco, Sams or Wal-Mart. They bleach easily and save your counters from getting sticky and stained. I also suggest you set out a medium sized trash bowl on the counters where you can collate all the food scraps and such. This will minimize trips to the garbage can and if you’re a composter you can simply add these items to your bin. Lastly – if you are labeling jars or containers with say the date the food items were made I do this in advance with a semi permanent marker. If you try and do it as you are filling the vessels your wet/slippery hands will make writing harder.
My all-time favorite meal prep breakfast is overnight oats. Not only are they SO simple to make, but you can easily change it up every day of the week! I like to store oats in mason jars because of how darn cute they look. Plus, mason jars are more environmentally friendly and healthy than eating food out of plastic containers.
I make overnight oats with the following “base” ingredients:
- ½ cup of oats
- 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds
- ½ cup fruit
- ½ cup of almond milk or other nut-milk of your choice
- dash of liquid stevia or local honey
Cover your mason jar with a lid and shake it well. Refrigerate overnight and TA DA! Overnight oats. My favorite add ins are: protein powder, Shakeology, yogurt, maple syrup, dried cranberries,
dried blueberries, nuts, Purely Elizabeth granola, bee pollen, PB2 or peanut better, chocolate chips, cacao nibs, or coconut shavings. There are too many yummy combinations to count – just be aware of portion control. All this goodness can get out of hand quick. Best to use a tablespoon for add-ins and stick to 1-3 on weekdays. Saturday and Sunday, you can, as we say in the south, “go hog wild”!
For lunch, I often stick to the jar theme and prepare healthy salads.This is similar to the overnight oats in that you can change it up to suit your mood and palate. When prepping salads, I prefer the mason jars that have a “wide-mouth”. These are easy to find anywhere you find glass jars like mason, ball or bell. But the wide mouth makes them easier to mix up and eat the salads from. I like to use a base of mixed greens in each of my food storage containers including romaine lettuce, arugala, and spinach. I add a protein (from our handy healthy options list), and a variety of different vegetables to each container. Super easy! I switch things up by adding, avocado, boiled egg, different types of cheeses, and seeds. Be sure to either take dressing separately OR add it to the BOTTOM of your jar so your salad won’t get soggy.
To make a quick and easy dinner for any night of the week, I love these grilled chicken veggie bowls from http://www.eatwell101.com. They are super easy to throw together, and like our breakfast and lunch options above they allow for tons of versatility, customization and one bowl clean up! Tip: I found this delicious recipe and hundreds of others using my favorite social media outlet; Pinterest of course! If I ever need inspiration for meal prepping, Pinterest is the first place I run to.
If one-bowl mixtures aren’t your thing then consider grilling several chicken breasts on Sunday along with a variety of veggies. You can easily add to that a couple of sweet potatoes and a container of prepared ahead quinoa and you’ve got all the basics ready for a nutritious meal. Try adding some spice (I love seasonings from Flavor God – easily locatable on amazon) to add interest and fun. Or hard-boil a batch of eggs for “briner” one night or a super easy egg-
And if tracking your intake is a goal of yours consider our Nutrition Tracker Stickers. They’re designed to fit perfectly onto your daily Kit page – on the upper right-hand corner. They have prompts for three meals and two snacks/day and provide room for indicating calories or macros whichever you prefer. Just remember – healthy lifestyle is not about micromanaging your food. These stickers are created for you to use intermittently perhaps when you need toget back on track or when you are training for a specific endeavor or event. We don’t recommend them for everyday. Instead we hope you’ll focus on overall healthy choices and a routine that offers a balanced approach to all aspects of your life.
Okay all your meal prepping divas out there: what are your tips and tricks for perfectly planned meals? Even #kitgirls could use some inspiration; so, take a picture of your meal prepping session this week and share your do’s and don’ts with us on Instagram!