About Meal Prep

 Let's talk meal prep. 

I think many people start down the path of meal prep with excellent intentions of eating wildly healthy and saving bucketfuls of money. Unfortunately, the path of health is often laden with our good intentions that turn into our own worst enemy. To be blunt, if you go out of your way to shop, prepare a healthy meal, and take it to work, only to have it pushed aside because the steamed broccoli and skinless chicken you prepared is not appetizing so you run out and buy a hamburger, you are losing the battle and the war.

I've successfully been doing meal prep for a few years now. Here are the secrets of my success in this venture:

1. Know what you like, prepare what you like, make it healthy.

 Prepare food that you enjoy, that you know you will want to eat, even if it's "not healthy." A home-cooked meal with always be healthier than eating out, and anything can be made to have some nutritional qualities. Casseroles are a great meal prep item. Go ahead and make your favorite, then tweek it to bump up the nutrition. See #3 below. 

2. Portion Portion Portion. And Glass.

Your prepared foods taste better when they have been stored in glass. Search "glass meal prep" on Amazon and you'll receive several selections for size and shape. These containers hold enough for one serving, they are stackable, microwaveable, and easy to wash. Portioning your meal in containers ensures you consume a proper amount of food for one sitting.

3. Add vegetables to everything.

I like ground proteins. One of my favorite meal prep combinations is ground beef tossed with broccoli. I don't love broccoli, but it's high in magnesium which makes it an excellent food for ladies over 50.  

If you are reluctant to try new vegetables, just give yourself one week. Commit to one new item that you have never eaten. That Red chard might be more interesting that you realize. Things like red cabbage, kale, and mustard greens cook well and keep a hearty texture. Parsley is high is calcium, so I frequently use a bushel or two in my vegetable mixture.  

4. The timing.

I've got the timing down to a science and you can do it too. I cut up my vegetables (whatever I have chosen for the week), then lay everything out on a large cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake for 20 minutes at 350, unless I am using greens, then 10 min at 200, just enough to wilt them. While the vegetables bake, I cook the protein. When everything is cooked and cooled, I assemble it in the containers.

5. Some extra time saving ideas that add some cost:

Instead of glass reusable containers, buy recyclable to-go containers in bulk from Amazon. This is a great option if you have a busy family and want to cut down on dish-washing and carrying around extra items through the day. 

When cooking your vegetables, line the cookie sheet with foil so wash time is minimal.

Boxed greens are a great option. Yes they cost a little more, but you can take them to work, add dressing, and consume the greens right out of their container (not glass, but you can't have everything). 

Take a look at a meal prep company. This is definitely a time-saving, not cost saving option, but I know they are godsend for my friends who are in the family/work/children/activities tetris of life. There are a few that do the prep work for you, so all you need to do is cook and assemble. 

The cost of groceries has skyrocketed the past year, and that means restaurant prices have gone up. Preparing meals ahead of time for the week is ensures you are fueling properly for efficient training and good long term health.

Best Regards!

Deb Clem



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