The Thought Process and Planning Behind Meal Prep for 1 Week
This is what goes through my mind on a weekly basis – it’s how I know that I am in control of what my calorie intake is, and that if I don’t see results in the gym or notice something different with my system – it’s easy to point to the source or the problem!
One day a week to do grocery shopping – this means I have a serious list that accounts for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for at least 6 days. How to make that happen– pick one recipe for breakfast, lunch and dinner and calculate the number of ounces/cups/tbs needed for each ingredient (protein/carb/veggie) to feed the number of people in your house. I have staples like almond butter and jelly, tuna, condiments and bread to supplement the change in schedule and eating out that occurs on the weekends. I also have nuts, protein powder and cheese cut up and measured into individual servings for snacks. Also on the list is enough fruit for each of us to have 2-3 serving a day.
I know it sounds boring to eat the same thing every day for a week, but I make sure the meals I choose are flavor packed and filling so I am not left craving other things. Who cares if you don’t have a new fresh cooked meal every night for the family? They will probably appreciate having a relaxed spouse/parent who can spend more time with them and less time stressing and cleaning after an already long day. This is my gift of time to myself and my Patrick– who helps with meal prep by the way. I do the same for grocery shopping (imagine only going to the store 1x a week –and actually using a legit budget for it) and laundry – it is done on the same day every week so our free time is not chore time. Life is too short for me to be worrying if I have time to run to the store after work again or stay up and put a load of laundry in every night. If you have kids – they should be helping!! Think of the life lessons of preparedness and scheduling you will impart on them. Fail to plan, plan to fail - show them how easy it can be if you establish a routine, and have them help you!! Henry Ford had a great idea with that assembly line thing.
Time and money savers:
Mason jars, much cheaper than Pyrex, longer lasting (and in my opinion safer/better for the environment) than plastic. Get the - sold separately on the shelf above them - plastic lids so you don’t have to worry about hand washing the metal lids they come with.
Frozen Veggies – do I look like I have time to wash/chop/steam 10lbs of veggies a week? Thank you technology for alleviating that 1st world problem from my shoulders.
Measure and portion your food into containers once you cook it!!!! This means you will be 100% less likely to eat more than you need/budgeted for, will not have to go back to the store and get more and will stay on your calorie plan so when you splurge on the weekend it will be truly earned!
Cooking meats simultaneously - pick meals where one meat cooks in the crock pot or on the stove top and one that cooks in the oven or on the grill. With these recipes it is important to remember to adapt the size of the crock pot and the amount of seasoning to cook the amount of meat you require - not that the recipe recommends.
-Brown and drain ground beef and make your own spaghetti sauce - make a big batch and freeze some for later.
-Roast a couple of 5lb chickens stuffed with garlic, onion and lemon at 350 for 2hrs then de-bone, take skin off and chop the meat to be stored in 3-4 oz servings. Use in salads, casseroles etc. There will be extra - freeze it to save time on another week.
-Bake a spice crusted pork loin, seasoned pork chops, or a ham.
-Baked or grilled salmon covered in Old Bay seasoning, or Lemon Pepper seasoned Tilapia.
-Bake a giant ground turkey meatloaf held together with egg whites and oat crumbs (pulse some instant oats in the food processor).
-Buy pre-portioned salmon or turkey burgers and season them while on the grill (I live in an apartment and am too lazy to go to the grill, I put them in the oven in a roasting pan so they drain).
-Buy a couple pounds of frozen cooked and shelled shrimp to use in salads.
When I make rice or pasta, I make as much as I can, store it in 1-2 cup (prepared) portions and freeze what I don't need to save cooking prep later on.
For every Costco suggestion I make I am confident that there is a similar option at Sam's or other big box clubs in your area.
Example: List for 1 week for two people eating 1500-1700 calories depending on snacks
Breakfast: BTW it only takes me 20 mins to make this…I pack lunches, enjoy my coffee and watch the news while waiting for it to finish.
-Eggs - 4 whites for me, 3 whole for him x 7 days = 49 eggs or 4 dozen (I will cut out an egg or two to make the 4 dozen last all week) Costco sells free range organic eggs by the 2 dozen.
-Frozen hash browns cooked to package directions (just potatoes, no seasonings or oils added in packaging) 2 cups for me 2 cups for him x7 days = 28 cups, buy enough bags to have the servings needed
-Coconut oil – 2tbs/day to cook potatoes in
-Coconut or olive oil cooking spray (saves calories) to cook eggs in
-Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning – used to season hash browns
-Coffee or tea, we use around a lb/week
Salsa is always in our house – I get a tub every week – we will put it on something or other -at least breakfast. And yes you could make this from scratch, but the world has not come to an end yet…knowing how to is enough for me at this point.
You will never see cereal or milk in my suggestions...I have my reasons against grains, lactose and legumes - whether you are intolerant or not these are very difficult to digest, cause gut inflammation and water retention...just eat real food, stay away from the processed stuff. I'm not in the cult of Paleo, but there is a lot of good science behind some of their rules.
Morning snack – pre-workout (about an hour before training)
1 piece of fruit, 1 scoop protein powder = 12 bananas about 6.5- inches long and 1 container of protein powder (should last 2 wks)
I have tried many protein powders, they can suck, I get it. I have come to find Isopure is not terrible and they offer a "natural" option that has no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. Find something you like, try a few different ones... and get used to mixing it with water. Save the calories, save the money.
Post Workout or lunch
*It is important to get around 25g protein and 50g carbs after about an hour-long bout of vigorous training
3 oz lean protein
1 medium size piece of fruit
½ cup cooked rice or 4oz potatoes
1 cup Veggies
List for two people x 6 days =
-36oz meat (2.5 lb chicken, ground turkey, pork loin etc)
- 5lb bag of potatoes or rice (you will have extra for next time)
-1-2 heads of cabbage shredded with food processor and sautéed in a little oil or bags of frozen broccoli/green beans –take some out and microwave (Costco has 5lb bags of organic green beans and broccoli)
-12 apples about 2-2.5 inches in diameter
Lightly spray a baking dish or Dutch oven and bake or roast the meat (you could also grill it).
I like to use the seasoning mixes made by Weber– kickin’ chicken is what I use when I roast chickens and Smokey mesquite is what I use on pork. To season ground beef for tacos I usually brown meat and drain of as much fat as possible then use (per lb of meat) 1tbs chili powder, 1tbs cumin, crushed red pepper to your taste, ½tbs garlic powder, onion powder and basil.
Additional/Optional Snack (depends on calorie allowance and macronutrient ratios- but having these on hand always helps!) Cut up and measure out ahead of time so you won’t cheat and grab extra!
1 oz nuts x 2 people x7 days = 14oz – what the heck get 1lb and have the extra (to save money I usually get the 3lb bulk bags at Costco found with the baking stuff, usually priced better than the stuff in the snack area)
1oz cheese x 2 people x 7 days =14oz – go for the lb to have extra.
1 piece of fruit x 2 people x 7 days = 14 medium oranges or 14 cups frozen berries (Costco has organic mixed berries frozen in 5lb bags)
3-4 oz lean protein
½ cup cooked rice or 4oz potatoes ( I double this for myself because I am training really hard right now and need the carbs, otherwise you can probably live without them right?)
1 cup Veggies
Repeat steps from lunch planning
36 oz meat (2.5lb)
5lb bag of rice or potatoes (red skin or sweet potatoes)
-I like to cook my rice in chicken broth or sauté garlic, mushrooms, onions and carrots then add rice and broth, bring to boil then simmer until rice is cooked, for a pilaf
- I usually wash chunk and roast my potatoes at 425 in a lightly sprayed baking dish (usually takes two to hold them all) I mostly season by sprinkling them with crushed rosemary and garlic powder – I don’t measure, just lightly cover and toss.