Meal prepping could be considered an art form unto itself. Between selecting the types of foods best suited to this practice to the art of assembling a well-balanced meal, there are a few ground rules to adhere to when making a week's worth of meals in one afternoon. "The whole process can prove overwhelming to the inexperienced, and even quite a hassle for veterans," says dietitian and nutritional scientist Paul Salter. "Successful meal prepping revolves around having a plan." According to Salter, you should commit these three rules to memory before stepping foot in kitchen:
1. Choose Your Day
While "Meal-Prep Sunday" is, in Salter's words, a "holiday widely observed in the fitness community," he recommends splitting prep across two days if you'd rather not spend hours in the kitchen. "Meal prep is only going to last if it feels manageable to you," he explains. "If Sunday doesn't work, split meal prep into two days." What's more, a Sunday and Wednesday schedule will definitely extend the quality of your meals.
2. Crunch the numbers
While this may seem odd, there's a bit of math involved in meal prepping. How many meals a day do you want to prep for? Are you looking to cover all three meals a day or just lunch? Are you planning for the week or just a few days? "Regardless of where you fall on the meal-prepping spectrum, choose a spot that sets you up for success and plan accordingly," explains Salter.
3. Select Your Foods
Put simply, Salter recommends saving the decadence for a fresh meal and sticking with durable, easy-to-cook staple items. Try mixing and matching foods from the following list:
- Protein: Chicken breast, lean ground beef, pork tenderloin, flank steak, lean lunch meat, and low-fat beef jerky
- Carbohydrates: Oats, quinoa, couscous, brown rice, wild rice, whole-grain tortillas and bread
- Healthy fats: Almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, almond butter, olive oil and coconut oil
After picking up your ingredients at your local grocery store, start cooking! Salter also recommends investing in an insulated meal bag if you have a long commute to work to keep your meals fresh.
Have you experimented with meal prep? Share your tips with us below!