I’ve been counting macros and eating clean for 6 months now (minus cheat days and occasional slip ups 😀 ). I eat 5 times a day (on glutes day it increases to 6!) and I always try to take prepped food with me everywhere I go. I’d say that I prep 95% of my food, and when it doesn’t really go according to the plan I substitute my meals with an exact match.
I went from spending 2 hours a day in the kitchen running like headless chicken to being (and I don’t mean to sound cocky) meal prep pro. How? Through trial and error. My colleagues are always amazed at how I manage to stick with my nutrition plan and be so organised, so I decided to let you in on my secrets. All you need to know about meal prepping (and more!), tips and tricks, do’s and dont’s – it’s all here in this blog post.
There are two ways you can approach this. First – you decide and come up with a meal plan yourself. If you understand nutrition principles and know what your body needs – by all means go ahead and do that. I decided to go for the second option – I asked my PT to put a nutrition plan for me which aligns with my training goals and lifestyle. So far so (really!) effective. Either way, you should have a menu of meals for each day of the week. I will not go into detail of how many times per day you need to eat, how much carbs, protein and fat to consume – all of that is a very personal thing and if you don’t know, I’d urge you to work with a certified PT / nutritionist. Once you have your meal plan ready, here comes the fun part!
You’re going to end up with two shopping lists. One for your food ingredients and one for all the essentials that you need to meal prep, take food with you, etc. It all comes down to your nutrition plan so it is essential that you get it right.
Once you have your meals set and you know when you’re going to meal prep, only then you can start working on a shopping list for your ingredients. It’s quite simple: you start with Monday’s meals, list every single ingredient you will need to create that meal and move to the next day. Repeat until your list includes every day of the week you’re going to shop for. I have this handy meal planner from Paperchase, but you can easily create one yourself or just grab a paper and sketch it out.
Then you should probably check that you have all the essentials you’ll need to prep and transport your meals. When I started meal prepping I got myself quite a few Tupperware food containers of various sizes and shapes, an aluminium water bottle and food scales.
Working out the process
Now that you know what you’re eating and what you need to buy, the next step is to figure out logistics. Are you going to physically go to the store or are you going to do online shopping? Will you get a week’s worth of food, or will you get fresh ingredients every other day? How many people are you shopping for, what are their needs?
Here’s my example:
I shop with Waitrose online. On Wednesdays I carry out food audit at home to check what’s missing and what are my plans for the week ahead. Once I have my shopping list, I place an order online for Friday’s delivery. In between Wednesday and Thursday I still have time to make any changes if I want to. On Friday evenings we get a big delivery – I shop for my personal meal plan and separately for my other half. Yes, sounds a bit of a mission, but trust me, once you get it right, it’s really quite simple.
When life gives you lemons…
Throw them back and ask for chocolate!
Of course it does not always goes to the plan. Life is not perfect and if it would, how boring would it be? Sometimes there are days, when I’m physically not able to prepare my food in advance. At first I used to panic and stress quite a lot. Then I realised that it really is no big deal, as long as you know what you’re supposed to eat (i.e. your macros!). If you live in a big city chances are that you’ll find substitutions fairly easily. You might need to do a bit of research, label reading and perhaps quite a bit of negotiation…
“Can I please have chicken without the sauce no potatoes, but please add extra veggies. Would be great if you could weight the chicken to be 150g. I’ll pay extra.“
Yup, been there, done that! But if you don’t ask, you don’t get. In the end, it’s quite nice to get your super healthy and nutritious meal served without any cooking and doing dishes afterwards for a change!
Meal prepping is really not that hard if you nail the system. It will take some time and effort to figure it out, but it’s so worth it. You will end up eating healthier, cleaner and more nutritious food, as well as save quite a bit of money.
Got any meal prepping tips to share? Comment below, I’m always keen to learn new tricks!