“Not another article on how to meal prep.” These articles are everywhere, but mine is different. Trust me, I’m a chef. Your average blogger and nutritionist haven’t spent most of their working hours in a hot, windowless kitchen making food all-day for years. Not to dismiss their advice, it is very helpful for a beginner. Yet ANY advice is helpful for a beginner.
You want real confidence in a kitchen and the ability to make whatever you want without a recipe. Imagine walking into your kitchen, taking a look in the fridge and the pantry. Instantly, you know what to make with what you have on hand. It all comes with practice and having fun.
I promote and follow a Paleo/Primal diet and lifestyle. Though this may sound restrictive on its face, I found that I have more dietary freedom than I’ve ever had before. The key to fun meal prepping is learning formulas over recipes. Most recipes follow a cooking method, regardless of the ingredients. Almost all restaurant dishes have 4 components; the main protein, two auxiliary sides, and a sauce to tie it all together.
Eating a Primal diet simplifies the meal process. When fat is your main macronutrient, you tend to be less hungry and require fewer calories. This means less planning on what to eat! Essentially you pick a protein, a cooking method, what veggies to pair, a starch like potatoes or quinoa if that fits your goals, and a sauce to tie it together. Every night can be a different dish!
Essentially you are meal prepping food groups. You can pick 2-3 proteins for the week and batch cook several different vegetables, aromatics, and a sauce or two. Primal Kitchen makes some great condiments, sauces, and dressings if you don’t want to make your own. You can also freeze meals/cooked food for later so they won’t spoil. I also recommend keeping frozen veggies on hand to stir fry or roast in a flash.
What are you struggling with? It’s one of the first questions I ask as a Health Coach. Are you trying to lose weight? Gain lean muscle mass? Get more nutrients or are you missing meals by having a busy schedule? If you practice intermittent fasting, then you only need to concentrate on lunch and dinner. You can also go the daily smoothie route for one of your meals like I do. If breakfast is your struggle, consider eating the same breakfast every day.
Creating a meal plan can easily be accomplished if you stick to themed days. Taco Tuesday can be changed up every week by swapping the components. Ground beef on one Tuesday, then pulled pork the next. Make sure you have a plan to use ground beef for another day that week like bolognese. The pulled pork can be made into a ragu or BBQ another night in the week when you use it.
Dinner seems to be the hardest to plan for most people. After coming home from a long day of work, you’re tired, hungry and have no mental energy to think of what to eat. To help you with this, I’m giving you this FREE MEAL PLAN to help you get started. Listed below are some of my best tips.
I like to prep my meals on Sundays. If you have a different schedule, pick a day that you have consistently off. Always have your pantry stocked with shelf-stable ingredients like salt, spices, oils, ghee, vinegars, etc.
Even if it’s the day before, don’t try to shop and prep all in one day. You will be doing nothing else. Shop early in the week when it’s not busy and if a store is out of stock on an ingredient, you will have ample time to get it later. I found the best days to shop are on Mondays through Wednesdays.
Don’t buy one onion and use it for just one recipe. The secret to how chefs can execute several menu items at the same time is similar preparation and ingredients. Prepping ingredients for more than one recipe at once is how chefs save time. One of my favorite crossover components is Soffritto. I have the recipe card to download and how to change the formula in my free 7-Day Meal Planning Challenge.
When batch cooking several types of food at once, don’t do one thing at a time. First, start with the recipe that has the longest cooking time. Next, the second-longest recipe or formula. Then, you can focus on smaller projects while everything else is working. The goal is to always be making 2-3 things at the same time. Meal prepping can be completed in an hour or two with this method.