How to Meal Prep and Plan Ahead
Have you ever heard of Meal Prep Mondays, meal prep, batch cooking, or bulk cooking? Surprisingly, some of you may not have a clue what I’m referring too, well this is a secret I want to share with all of you today. Undoubtedly, batch cooking helped me tremendously and still continues to be a life saver in reaching my health goals and saving time, all while keeping the enjoyment when cooking.
BATCH IT, BABY.
What is batch cooking? Basically, it’s preparing most or all of your meals and snacks for the entire week on 1 day out of the week. Simply make a date with your kitchen for about 1-2 hours, 1 day every week (in my world, it’s on Saturday’s right after I finish my grocery shopping haul in the mornings/afternoons) and have some fun cooking! No freezing required for any of your batch cooking as you’ll be eating this throughout the week and cycle this every week.
In your entire week (168 hours/week), 1-2 hours/week of cooking is not much! Especially if you’re currently coming home from work every night cooking on the spot which could easily add up to 30-60 minutes/evening, that’s over 7 hours a week! We all can use that extra 5 hours a week we’d save batch cooking to enjoy our time with loved ones, play more, take walks, engage in our beloved hobbies, and decompress. On the flip side, what if your case is going through a drive-through, picking up fast food, or dining out because you have nothing prepared to come home to. Again, batch cooking will save not only your health from avoiding all those questionable ingredients (yikes!) put into fast food establishments, but also money spent!
At first, you may feel a tad overwhelmed with all the foods you want to make for an entire week, so I suggest starting out with 1 meal that you find you’re most pressed for time or poses the most challenge for cooking. For example, most people I coach find it to be dinner or breakfast especially if you’re getting the kids and yourself ready for the day. Therefore, the first step is asking yourself “what meal time is really difficult for me to cook?” or “what time of day am I most in a time crunch to eat something healthy?”. Start with that meal you’ve identified and gradually build upon the days/weeks worth when you’re feeling more comfortable; or jump right in full force! I promise you the more frequently you batch cook and meal prep, the better and more efficient you become at it. Before long, you’ll be a master meal prep machine.
WHY BATCH COOK?
COMMON SUPPLIES NEEDED:
My kitchen typically looks like a bit of a disaster while batch cooking with veggies galore on the cutting board, soups on the stove, hummus in the blender, quinoa in the rice cooker, sweet potatoes and homemade granola in the oven, etc.; but that’s fun right? Batch cooking is a bit of a therapeutic time for me, it’s were I can get in (what my family and friends call) “the zone”, turn on some tunes, and cook, blend, and bake till my little heart desires. You too will find your groove in the kitchen and start to develop your own go-to’s in batch cooking. Another reason why batch cooking rocks, all items are home-made, therefore you control what goes into your food and ultimately what’s going into that beautiful body of yours! To start off, here are some of my favorite ideas that I incorporate into my week. I like to call these items, meal components because you’re basically building meals from these simple ingredients throughout the week.
As you cook these foods, cook them NAKED or as simple as possible (i.e. no dressing, no oil, no sauces, limited seasonings, etc.). Then when meal time rolls around, you’ll simply re-heat on the skillet/oven/or even microwave. Also, at this time you’ll add on what I like to call your “toppers”, the sauces, dressings, dips you’ve made, fresh seasonings, herbs, dressings, etc. This is where all the fun and variety happens. Lets take a look of an example below using just 1 meal component from your staple batch cooking list with “toppers”.
Several ideas using Quinoa for dinner |
I hope you find this technique as helpful as I do. If you need an additional boost, be sure to download my Back to Basics Bundle that includes a meal planning chart, grocery list, how to stock your pantry, fridge and many more tips!