Meal Prep Pro Tips

dietitian nutrition Aug 02, 2021

Full Transcript Below (Edited from Original Audio):

Let's go over some meal prep basics! Just a few things to help you feel a little bit more confident. If you're new to meal prep or if you've done meal prep in the past, here are some tips to make sure that you are getting the most out of it and doing it in the timeliest manner possible. So, if meal prep is something that's old hand to you, you might feel pretty confident in the kitchen, you might feel like you've got it down, you know when to cook your proteins or when to cook your starches, your vegetables, you know how to lay out your meal prep containers and you're pro with the scale...but if you're new to meal prep, you might feel a little bit more like this. But not to worry, we are going to make sure that as you're going through your meal prep and planning process that I am going to be there to support you every step of the way. And we're going to go through a few pro tips right now.

So, when it comes to meal prepping, you have to think about what you're doing before you actually start meal prepping. Once you have your plan, make sure that your grocery list is with you and that you're sticking to your grocery list for the most part. What a lot of people struggle with if they're doing batch cooking on the weekend, is sometimes allowing their schedule to get away from them. So it comes down to Sunday night, you maybe have done your grocery shopping, but you have been so busy running back and forth all weekend that you haven't really gotten around to your prep. This can be problematic because as Monday morning rolls around, you're not going to have any food available for you through the week or the foods that you need to have available through you through the week available to you. Things just are going to fall apart from there. Make it part of your routine and schedule in your grocery shopping trip every week. It should be a part of your normal weekend routine if that's when you're doing your meal prep. So for example, in our household, our family likes to do our grocery shopping on Saturday, anytime of day really, but typically early in the morning, because we like to avoid crowds at the grocery store. We go to our local butcher shop that we frequent, so that we have everything put together on Saturday. Then if we want to go enjoy the rest of the afternoon, we can do that as a family. First thing that happens Sunday morning is the meal prep. Now about a year ago, we switched to a grill versus cooking all the proteins inside the house. One because the taste of the grill can't be beat and also because we didn't like all the heat that the oven produced in our house. This is a personal preference, but I plug the grill because it is a game changer for sure. We typically go between 12 to 18 pounds of meat a week, just depending on what kind of training cycle my husband and I are in. Having the gill makes it convenient for us because the meat cooks quickly and it's really has a great flavor to it. I would recommend getting one if you can, if not roasting in the oven is perfectly fine too. Also cooking proteins on the stovetop is perfectly fine too. But remember to schedule your grocery shopping and then make sure you are also scheduling when you're going to be doing your meal prepping. Now if you know you have a lot of things going on that weekend do it early because I promise you as soon as afternoon evening rolls around on the weekend, it's not going to happen. Make sure you get it done early.

The other thing that I recommend is using individual containers for your meal prep. Sometimes people will use larger containers to hold other proteins, their starches, their veggies, and whatnot. This can be problematic, especially for somebody who's new to meal prep, because it takes away the convenience factor. When you have everything packaged in individual containers, it makes it super convenient for you to go to the fridge at any time and pull something out. I will tell you from experience that this is super important when you come home after a long day and you are just physically and mentally exhausted. That even sometimes the act of having to just pull a plate out of the cabinet and put food on it can be too much, and temptation will win. So, make sure that you use individual containers if you are new to meal prep or if you just have a lot of those days where sometimes you're just too tired to do anything but crawl through the door.

Now, some of these pro tips can be beneficial for making meal prep less hectic and feel less like a chore. The first thing you want to do is always start with a clean kitchen. If you start with a dirty kitchen, dishes in the sink, stuff everywhere, it's just going to make meal prep cleanup feel even more like a chore afterwards. That can make meal prep less enjoyable and make you less likely to continue doing meal prep on a regular basis. Start with a clean kitchen and then clean as you go! If you don't want an entire sink of dirty dishes waiting for you after you've just done all this glorious meal prep, my recommendation is to make sure that you keep half of your sink full of hot soapy water. This is so that as your meats are cooking, your starches are cooking, your veggies are cooking and you have some downtime in between tasks, that you can start cleaning your items, put them to dry and put them right away. So, you don't have to deal with them later. Fight the urge to get on your phone and scroll your social media, get your dishes cleaned as you're cooking so that you can relax afterwards.

Next pro top, you've got to have sharp utensils, good utensils. This is going to make cutting your meat cutting all the things that you need to put into your individual containers much easier especially if you don't have to fight with a dull knife. If you've ever had to fight with a dull knife before you know what a task it can be. So, make sure that your knives are sharp. Most stores sell the self-sharpening tools now and you don't have to be a pro at this. You can get the little plastic tool that has the sharpening item inside of it and just run your knife through it.

Now the other thing that can make meal prep much easier, even though a lot of my meal plans come with meal prep guides is, if it doesn't or you are working with a plan that doesn't have a meal prep guide, then make sure you cook your proteins first. This will help speed up your meal prep time because proteins typically take the longest to cook. A lot of times if you're working with starches or vegetables, you can even do these in the microwave in some instances to speed up your meal prep time. Always start with your proteins first, okay?

Some food safety tips to make sure that you cook your food thoroughly. I personally am a big fan of the food thermometer. I was trained to cook with a food thermometer. And because we're storing the food in the refrigerator for a long period of time, over the course of a week, we want to make sure that the food is cooked thoroughly so that there's no risk of bacteria. In any of your ground meats and fishes needs to be cooked at a minimum temperature of 145 degrees. Your chicken, poultry, all of that needs to be at a minimum temperature of 170 degrees. So like your chicken breast chicken and pork chops, if you're doing that need to be at a minimum temperature of 170 degrees. Then beef, depending on what kind of cut of beef it is, can be anywhere from 145 degrees and up. After you're done cooking, the food is going to be hot so you want to make sure that you don't leave it out for too long because this can also encourage the growth of bacteria. We want to store it within two hours, and we want it to be able to be completely cooled down within four hours. If your food is not completely cooled down within four hours, and then you need to discard it because this is kind of that temperature time Danger Zone.

Also, if you're going to freeze your meal prep for the week, just to help you feel safer about how long you're storing it for, then you need to make sure that it's completely cooled down before you store it. Because if you store food in the freezer immediately while still warm, there's always the possibility that the center of the container is not going to get cold enough in time. This can also encourage the growth of bacteria, then when you reheat it, it's always a good idea to reheat it to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, I know that a lot of you guys aren't going to have thermometers in your pocket when you reheat your food, but it should be reasonably hot. Again, just for food safety purposes. Now, I will say that there have been occasions where I've had to eat my meal prep cold. You know, I've kept it in a cold container in cold storage and then I've had to eat it cold. But for food safety purposes, we need to reheat that food to at least 165 degrees in accordance with USDA guidance. I want to give that to you guys here. Do whatever else you need to do at your own risk. I'm telling you to reheat it.

Just remember that if you are new to meal prep it takes time to really get it down to a science. I've been meal prepping for almost two decades now and I can typically get my meal prep done, my husband's meal prep, even my son's meal prep done in less than two hours. Especially now that we have the grill, my husband cooks most of the protein for me, then I can kind of focus just on the starch in the veggies and portioning everything out. It takes time. So, your first meal prep adventure might not be an enjoyable, short, quick experience, okay? But the more consistent you are with it, the easier it's going to get for you, the less you're going to have to think about doing it. So just make sure you stick with it!

So that was all of my basic meal prep pro tips for you guys right now. Make sure that you hit me up if you have any questions or any comments, please share them.



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