Fit pros (including myself) are always talking about food “prepping and planning” as the most important key to successful weight management and it occurred to me that I’ve never written about how to do it quickly and easily so I wanted to get this out to you real quick before I head out for my workout !
I am definitely not a master chef, but I’ve mastered a few quick, simple, and healthy meals that also support my lean, active lifestyle.
Here’s something that’s hard to argue with – the more meals you eat at home, the healthier and leaner you will probably be. There are of course exceptions to the rule, but for the vast majority of us, eating home-cooked meals often leads to improved body composition.
A time-crunched schedule is no excuse either.
All you need to do is prep once a week for 40-minutes and you’ll set yourself up to be a fat-burning machine.
When you hear the word “meal prep” what comes to mind? I don’t know about you, but most people automatically go to a dark, scary place – I think of stacks of Tupperware with carefully rationed portions. I think about giant amounts of bland chicken breasts, huge vats of brown rice, and tons of steamed broccoli. “The horror, the horror!”
For just a second, let’s drop the perception of meal prep as the Tupperware-carrying physique competitor that you see at the gym gulping his protein shake. Instead, picture a much simpler, more realistic version.
Here’s a quick summary of my meal prep strategy:
1. Cook extra servings of various proteins and chop a bunch of core veggies to use in multiple dishes. This creates the base for most of your meals. To this, you can add a few select pre-made items (slicked chicken breast, bag of prepared greens, etc.) and boom – you have 80% of your meals for the week.
Now that doesn’t sound so hard, does it?
Meal Prep Made Easy
I’m going to completely change your whole meal prep perspective, and you’re going to learn some things that might surprise you.
For example, it’s OK to use fat. In fact, fat is healthy, and it tastes great. Both cheese and avocado (examples of fat) are excellent ways way to make food delicious.
Also, spices are your best friend, and don’t be afraid to use sea salt as long as your blood pressure is within normal ranges. As far as spices go, these 5 should definitely be in your kitchen arsenal:
1) Garlic – works with pretty much everything. Fresh garlic will always be the best, but use garlic powder if you have to. My favorite dishes that I use garlic: baked chicken, roasted veggies, and tuna salad. Pairs well with ginger and cumin.
2) Sea Salt – This one is a no-brainer as we all know adding salt to foods will bring out its flavor. I like to go with sea salt as it’s a purer form of salt that’s been processed less than its table salt counterpart.
3) Ginger – Strong and floral, ginger is a great way to add a little flair to any dish. I love using ginger in combination with soy on any chicken or fish dish. It works really well together. Pairs very well with garlic.
4) Cayenne – Ready to kick it up a notch? Cayenne will add some serious heat to any dish. I love using cayenne on eggs, in my tuna salad, or if I want to quickly add some heat to any dish. Pairs well with cumin.
5) Cumin – This pungent, powerful spice is the secret weapon for many meat dishes. This is one of the major ingredients in most curries. It can be slightly bitter as well. My favorite use of cumin is on chicken or beef stir-fry and always when I make my chili. I also use it on popcorn for some added flavor. It pairs well with garlic and ginger.
Knowing these spice combinations will immediately upgrade your cooking skills.
The main point is that cooking healthy meals doesn’t have to be difficult. I know for some of you cooking is an overwhelming task and you might have no idea where to start.
That’s totally OK.
Here is an easy way to prepare 16 meals in 40-minutes. Yes, you heard that right – 40-minutes of focused time in the kitchen will give you 16 healthy meals that are high in protein and loaded with tasty vegetables.
The Ultimate Grocery-Shopping List
First things first, you’ll need to do some grocery shopping to pick up all the ingredients. Here’s your shopping list:
2 large bags (1lb total) of mixed greens (pick your favorite – spinach, arugula, kale-notice how all of these come already pre-washed in bags)
5 large carrots
3 large onions (any variety will do)
1 large celery bunch
4 red peppers
2 heads of broccoli
2 heads of cauliflower
3 lbs. chicken breast
1 lb. turkey breast (cooked)
4 cans tuna (solid white albacore)
1 dozen eggs
If you don’t have the below in your kitchen, get the following:
Soy sauce ( or even better are Amino Acids)
Basic Cooking Supplies
3 large cooking trays or baking dishes
1 large pot
2 large bowls
4 small bowls
Meal Prep Instructions:
1. Set up a timer for 40 minutes.
2. Remove all of your groceries from your fridge and cabinets.
3. Prepare yourself to make tuna salad, egg salad, baked marinated chicken, parmesan roasted veggies, and a roasted turkey salad.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, and heat a medium pot of water.
Place the chicken breast in a large Ziploc bag. Add 2 tbsp of oil olive, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, and 2 tbsp Greek yogurt. Mix well so every breast is well coated in the marinade. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Carefully place 8 eggs into the pot of (almost) boiling water. Simmer the eggs for about 8 minutes. Cooking tip: Placing eggs into hot water will make the peeling process much easier down the road.
Loosely chop the broccoli and cauliflower into large florets and spread amongst 2 cooking trays or baking dishes. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Transfer chicken from Ziploc bag into baking dish. Place chicken, broccoli and cauliflower into the oven. Set the oven timer to 20 minutes.
Dice peppers, onions, cucumber, celery and carrots and set aside in separate small bowls.
Place tuna into large bowl and add half the chopped onions and celery. Add 2 tbsp of Greek Yogurt. Add salt, garlic powder, black pepper, cumin, and cayenne powder. Mix well and place in fridge. Your tuna salad is done.
Mix large bag of greens in a large bowl with chopped peppers, carrots, onions, and cucumbers. Chop turkey breast slices into 1-inch pieces and toss into salad. Set aside. Your roasted turkey salad is done.
Remove the pot with eggs from the heat and run under cold water for 30-60 seconds.
Peel eggs and mash them in a large bowl with the rest of the chopped onions and celery. Add 2 tbsp of Greek yogurt. Add salt, garlic powder, cumin, and cayenne powder, and mix until well-blended. Your egg salad is done.
Remove the veggies from the oven after 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Your parmesan roasted veggies are done.
Remove chicken breast 5 minutes later (for a total of 25 minutes of bake time). Your baked marinated chicken is done.
Take a big breath. You’re completely done. Meal-Prep-Done
(See putting it all together for more information.)