By Charanya Sundar, MS, RDN, LD
Meal prepping is the key to staying on track with your diet. Try these tips to make meal prep as easy as possible.
Meal Prep 101
Remember the major components of your meal: three ounces protein, 1/2 cup vegetable and two tbsp of carbohydrates. If meal prepping twice a week, you’ll make eight meals at a time and need at least 24 oz protein, four cups of veggies and eight ounces of carbohydrates. After cooking and preparing, measure out three ounce portions of protein, 1/2 cup portions of veggies and 1/4 cup portions of starches into plastic containers and/or mason jars for easy storage in the fridge.
Step 1 — Grocery Shopping
Prepare a list including produce, meats, high fiber starches and healthy snacks. This is a key step in the process. Make sure you buy enough staple foods — 1.5 pounds of meat, eggs, egg whites, Greek yogurt, oats, rice sweet potatoes, at least four cups of leafy greens, onions, garlic and a couple servings of in-season veggies and fruit.
Step 2 — Cook Meats, Prepare Produce and Starches
Marinate meats and bake, broil, grill or pan-cook. Hard boil eggs while chopping up veggies to make salads and healthy snacks easy or steam or bake veggies in bulk. On the stove top, cook up some lentils or rice. Bake or microwave sweet potatoes. Measure out 1/4 cup of rolled oats for overnight oatmeal.
Step 3 — Measure Proper Portion Sizes and Store
This is the fun part. Assemble your meals together into plastic containers and/or mason jars and make sure you get at least three ounces of meat, 1/2 cup of veggies and two tablespoons of starch per meal into each container. Keep in the fridge for up to four days or freeze up to two months.
Proteins, Veggies and Starches
Here’s a quick run-down of healthy proteins, veggies and high-fiber starches to use in your meals.
Protein To Cook:
• Hard boil a dozen eggs
• Make egg white muffins
• Bake, broil, pan cook or use your slow cooker to cook one pound of fish, lean chicken, steak, pork or turkey
• Bake or sauteé blocks of tofu
* Make protein pancakes, muffins or bars in bulk
Protein to Buy Pre-Cooked:
• Shredded chicken
• Rotisserie chicken
• Trader Joe’s grilled chicken (microwavable)
• Kroger seasoned chicken or pork
• Premade hardboiled eggs
• Frozen egg muffins (turkey and sausage)
• Canned chicken, salmon or tuna
• Precooked shrimp
• Unflavored Greek yogurt
Veggies to Cook:
• Cut up fresh veggies for salads and snacks like celery, mixed greens, cauliflower, bell peppers, bok choy and cabbage
• Grill, steam or bake veggies in bulk such as asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and eggplant
Veggies to Buy Pre-Cooked:
• Frozen microwavable veggies (SteamFresh)
• Chopped Salad (buy in bulk at Sam’s or Costco)
• Premade cauliflower rice
• Premade zucchini noodles
Starches to Cook:
• Microwave, bake or sauteé sweet potatoes
• Boil lentils or rice in bulk
• Overnight oatmeal
• Cook oatmeal in bulk
Starches to Buy Pre-Cooked:
• Canned legumes
• Fresh, frozen or canned fruit to add to smoothies or have as a snack
• Microwavable brown rice
• High-fiber bread such as Ezekiel bread or Flatout
• Low sugar instant oatmeal
• High-protein, low sugar cereal
About the Author
Charanya Sundar is a Registered Dietitian with PsyMed, Inc. She helps prepare Nicholson Clinic patients undergo lifestyle changes to be successful with surgery and minimize complications, disease risk and nutrient deficiencies. She enjoys sharing unique recipes and exercise plans to show that having a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be restrictive and can be enjoyable.