Why Do Meal Prep?
Often times what puts people off the whole meal preparation idea is the struggle on how to do it without it taking forever. I can completely understand this and see why it would cause a lot of people to give up before they have even started! Below I am going to outline my tips on how to maximise your productivity in the kitchen when preparing your meals!
I am fortunate enough to be a qualified chef so I do have substantial experience in the kitchen and meal prepping is not difficult for me at all. I’ve absolutely loved integrating the skills I garnered from my past kitchen/cooking career into my now fitness career/lifestyle.
1. Have Your Meal Requirements Handy.
Let’s just say you are doing 3 days worth of meal prep to take to work with you. Each day you take 3 meals with you to work, thus you need 9 meals. From your macronutrient requirements (which have already been worked out), figure out the quantities of each ingredient you require and have it listed somewhere eg. Laptop, Phone or piece of paper.
2. Purchase Good Quality Meal Containers.
It’s important you have enough of and good quality food containers for all your meals. Nothing more frustrating then doing days worth of meal prep and you discover afterwards you have nothing to put it in!
As for quality, this is variable and up to you on how much you want to spend. Most of the stuff you see at your local Woolworths is BPA Free now which is great. I personally really love the Pyrex containers you can get but they are a bit more expensive than your standard plastic option. Make sure also to get ones which are a suitable size for the portions of food you are preparing! You don’t want them to be too big or too small!
3. Have Sufficient Cookware.
Ideally at least 2 x frying pans, microwave steamer and at least 1 pot. Other devices which may help are Rice Cookers, steamers, an oven and a food processor depending on the types of meals you are preparing. This is important for a step I will outline below known as multi-tasking.
4. Mise En Place.
For those of you reading who have never worked in a kitchen setting will probably not know what “Mise En Place” refers to. It’s basically a french term referring to the organising and setting up of ingredients which require to be cooked. This may involve cutting the vegetables, preparing the meat (removing skin, fat etc.), weighing the carbohydrate source (rice, potatoes, pasta etc.).
Basically when I meal prep I have EVERYTHING cut, prepared, skinned, weighed and ready to cook. So the final stage is simply cooking it and putting it all together! Trust me when I say this but it will make your meal prep SO MUCH easier, faster and less stressful!
This is where you are going to cut down on most of your time meal prepping. Pretty much speaks for itself….be doing multiple things at once. For example, have a batch of chicken cooking whilst your broccoli is steaming in the microwave and your rice is cooking away in the rice cooker. You have THREE items being cooked all at the same time! The more you do this, the more efficient you will become in the kitchen. If you have more than 1 frying pan like I mentioned above, you can even have another batch of chicken cooking away, or have your Mushrooms frying, the point being you can have 3,4 or 5 things on the go at once!
This is a much faster way of doing things, rather than waiting for your chicken to finish cooking. Then putting the rice on and waiting for that to be done. Then steaming your broccoli etc…
6. Cleanup As You Go.
When you are preparing meals for the coming days and you are using the skill I just mentioned, multi-tasking, the kitchen can quickly become cluttered! It is important that you do your best to prevent this occurring. The more cluttered and messy your workspace is, the less productive you are, the longer the process will take and not to mention potentially less hygienic the area will be!
If you simply make an effort to clean as you go, dispose of rubbish as soon as it is created and keep your workspace tidy and clear you will notice a MASSIVE difference. Not only does it make your workspace easier to work in, it also makes meal preparation quicker, easier and less stressful. Then when you finish cooking there is very minimal cleanup afterwards! Win-Win!!
7. Creating Free Time.
In essence, spending 1, 2 or 3 hours prepping your meals for the next 3 days, you have bought yourself more time during the week to not have to make it a nightly chore. For myself, meal prep happens on a Sunday afternoon/evening and again on Wednesday evening. I then only need to prepare dinner the rest of the nights and not have to prep meals for the following day each night. I feel I have much more free time on my hands on weeknights because of this, thus I can spend this time doing other things I love wether it be training at the gym, playing team sports, spending time with my partner, spending time bettering myself, catching up on work or emails or simply relaxing!!
“Eat for your Physique!”