The Ultimate Guide For Easy Meal Prepping

The Ultimate Guide For Easy Meal Prepping

by | Nov 15, 2018

Guys, there’s a secret to eating healthy, home-cooked meals that won’t waste hours after work — and no, it’s not investing in a personal chef.

It’s meal prepping, or creating a few meals or dishes and portioning them out throughout the week. This can be as easy as stocking up on cottage cheese for breakfast, or as complicated as making a bunch of meals on Sunday and saving them for the rest of the week. Either way, it will save you time and money — and it’ll ensure that you stick to a healthy diet.

“One of the biggest downfalls I see with clients regarding their compliance to their nutrition program is making poor nutrition decisions in the moment,” says nutrition advisor Mike Roussell, Ph.D. “When you prep meals ahead of time, you don’t need to make any decisions at meal time. All the work has already been done. You just need to eat.”

Need help getting started? We’ve outlined the basics and provided some tips to make it a bit less overwhelming.

1) Calculate how many meals you need.

Think about how many breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners you’ll need throughout the week. Technically, if you want enough breakfast, lunches and dinners for the workweek, you would need 15 meals, but you don’t have to cook 15 separate dishes. Instead, prepare a few large batches of meat and vegetables that can be used in various ways throughout the week.

Check out this downloadable template from The Kitchn to plan for the week. Or try one of our easy protein-packed recipes. And one additional tip: be sure to factor in things like dates and meals with clients. That way, you can plan more efficiently and avoid wasting food.

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2) Keep it simple.

If you’re new to cooking, Registered Dietitian and health coach at StrongerU, Jessica Bachman, PhD, MS-MPH, recommends staying away from recipes that require too many ingredients. Instead, “think of a meal as a veggie, a protein and a starch,” she says. So for instance, a quick dinner could be roasted pork loin, broccoli, and sweet potato.

3) Utilise leftovers.

Bachman’s clients often struggle with planning both lunch and dinner. “Just choose one meal to start with. Then once you get a handle on that, start adding in more,” she says. Plus, you can make extra for dinner and eat the leftovers for lunch. “That’s so much easier than trying to take a different meal for lunch every day,” she explains.

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4) Opt for easy cooking methods.

Sure, you may love the grill marks on that chicken, but cooking on the grill or stove requires more attention. Bachman recommends using an oven or slow cooker, since you can throw food in for a designated amount of time and simply monitor its progress. Plus, it’s easier to cook large batches of food with both of these methods.

5) Rely on frozen foods.

There’s no need to prepare every single item on your plate. Instead of washing, cutting and steaming that side of broccoli, buy frozen vegetables instead. Additionally, many frozen fruits and vegetables, like broccoli, have just as many vitamins and minerals as their fresh counterparts.

6) Keep breakfast simple.

Mornings can be hectic, which is why Bachman recommends having the same breakfast every day. Just chop up some fruit so it can be thrown in the blender for smoothies, or pair it with Greek yoghurt for a change of pace.

RELATED: How To Master Your Meal Prep In 8 Simple Steps

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7) Have a go-to snack.

Similarly, Bachman advises choosing one snack, like pre-portioned nuts or a batch of hard-boiled eggs, that you can eat every day. That way, you won’t have to hit up the vending machine when you’re hit with the munchies.

8) Get creative.

Eating chicken every night doesn’t have to be boring. Bachman says she makes a big batch of shredded chicken every week and uses it for a variety of dishes, like salads or fajitas. She recommends having a variety of sauces and seasonings on-hand, such as barbeque, buffalo, etc., to make each meal feel unique.

9) Buy budget-friendly staples.

There’s no need to spend money on organic, grass-fed beef if you can’t afford it. There are plenty of affordable, filling and nutrient-dense foods like eggs, quinoa and sweet potatoes, according to Bachman. For example, one large egg has 6.3 grams of protein, is loaded with vitamins A, D, E, and K and will only set you back $5 for one dozen (on average). Bachman recommends whipping up a veggie-loaded cauliflower fried rice with eggs for a budget-conscious and well-balanced meal.

Other economical picks that have plenty of protein include canned tuna, beans and salmon. Keep them on-hand to pair with meal-prepped salads, veggies or whole wheat pasta dishes.

Bachman also recommends buying seasonally. Opt for brussels sprouts and broccoli when they’re in season during the fall because prices will be lower. In winter, switch them out for turnips and winter squash.

Check out this list of seasonal produce from the United States Department of Agriculture before hitting up the grocery store.

10) Write out your list and go shopping.

With your meals lined up, it’s time to make a grocery list and head to the store. Try to do your big weekly shop on Saturday or early Sunday, so you have time to prep your ingredients before the work week begins. To get in and out as fast as possible, organise your grocery list by section (produce, meat, dairy, etc.).

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11) Keep track of how long your items are in the fridge.

Cooked meat can safely be stored for three to four days in your fridge. After that, it’s time to freeze.

12) Choose the best products to prep and pack your food.

It’s worth blocking out time on the weekend to get your ingredients ready for weekday meal assembly. “Once the week starts, there’s a greater chance that the prep just won’t happen,” Roussell says. Invest in a good set of clear glass or plastic containers so you know exactly how much you have. 

This article originally appeared on Men’s Health US.

RELATED: 4 Clever Meal Prep Tips For Beginners

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But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 

Nagnata

Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

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New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 

Nike

Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

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Tracksmith

Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

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Lululemon

Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

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Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

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