Meal prepping to meet your fitness goals doesn’t have to be complicated. Food can be made in the simplest ways and ingredients can be prepped in advance for later down the week. I keep things as simple as possible with as many whole ingredients as possible and also by creating a basic menu for the week that I work off of. I make sure to have an idea of what I want for my lunches and dinners, and will pick to combine for the actual preps. Here’s how I meal prep, keep it easy, and reach my fitness goals..
How I Meal Prep
Cook Bulk Ingredients
Start your meal prep by cooking as many ingredients as you can and assemble later. Besides the cleanup, the actual preparation of food is the hard part and for me as summer is getting warmer I don’t want to be in a hot kitchen all afternoon. Preheat the oven early and get it out the way. Please, by all means, use a slow cooker, countertop or stove top grill, or even grill your food outside to keep the house as cool as possible. In this post I’m going to recommend oven grilling chicken which I think is the best way to meal prep chicken to keep it fresh and tender during re-heating later in the week, but it honestly made the house way too hot. Opt for the slow cooker or grill outside.
To cut down on prep time, purchase pre-cut or chopped, canned, and frozen ingredients. Some of these may run your grocery bill higher (pre-cut from the fresh produce section) and other may actually save money (like frozen broccoli in bulk from Costco) so play with your options and decide what’s best for you. I have a full blog post on my essential foods for IIFYM and what I purchase consistently.
I’ve been prepping my chicken in the Crock Pot for the last few months because it’s a nearly hands-off way to cook it, but lately I’ve been loving this oven grilled version. I was inspired by this Fit Men Cook meal prep video where he cubed the chicken breast into small pieces so the chicken cooked quicker than cooking the breast whole in the oven. The secret for keeping chicken tender and prevent it from drying out during re-heating is to add a bit of lemon juice before cooking. Check it out! (pun intended)
- chicken breasts
- seasoning of choice: taco seasoning, fajita, chili powder, garlic salt, etc.
- lemon juice
- non-stick cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Lightly spray the foil with non-stick spray and set aside. Prepare the chicken for cooking by cutting it into one inch cubes and place in a glass bowl. Add either a small amount of olive oil to the chicken or spray with the non-stick spray. Cover the chicken with seasoning of choice depending on what you’re going to use it for during the week. This past week I kept itsimple with a little bit of garlic salt and pepper so I could use it in multiple recipes.
Evenly spread the chicken onto the aluminium foil. Bake in the oven for around 10 to 12 minutes and you’ve got chicken for the week! This prepped chicken is great for individual meals with sides, as salad toppings, in scrambles eggs or even sandwiches and wraps!
I love asparagus. It’s one of my favorite vegetables along with cucumbers and bell peppers. I only starting prepping my asparagus for the week recently to cut back on packing time each evening. I really enjoy asparagus with my breakfast for volume since I’m usually pretty hungry right away in the morning. Veggies for breakfast, in general, is one of my top fitness hacks because they pack a lot of volume and I genuinely love vegetables.
One of my favorite ways to cook asparagus for meal prepping is to grill it rather than oven baking or steaming it. I find that lightly grilling the asparagus helps maintain the crunch when it’s reach heated later in the week.
- asparagus, rinsed and chopped
- coconut oil spray (the coconut here is key!)
- lemon pepper seasoning and garlic salt
I use a counter top grill for meal prep and set the temperature to around 325 degrees for asparagus. Lightly spray the asparagus with coconut oil spray or drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Add lemon pepper and garlic salt to taste. Cook the asparagus on one side for 6 – 8 minutes then rotate and repeat. Test the asparagus with a fork for doneness – I like mine to have a bit of crunch to it when cooking for meal prep since it will be microwaved later in the week. Store in an air tight container and enjoy!
Roasted Red Potatoes
- red potatoes
- coconut spray
- rubbed sage
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Rinse and chop the red potatoes and place in a bowl. Liberally coat the potatoes with coconut oil spray and add seasonings – I like thyme, rubbed sage and rosemary for red potatoes. Evenly distribute the potatoes onto the baking sheet for easy cooking. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes, checking the oven at 10 minutes and testing with a fork for doneness.
Roasted Squash and Sweet Potatoes
For these recipes, I recommend buying the pre-cut squash from your fresh produce section and if the sweet potatoes are available buy those too. I’ve tried using whole, fresh squash then peeling and cutting it myself, and it’s a total waste of time in my opinion.
- squash or sweet potatoes
- coconut oil spray
- taco or fajita seasoning – I supplemented with chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic salt, pepper
Directions are basically the same as with the red potatoes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the sqaush and sweet potato into separate bowls – I cook and store them separately because they have different macros. Liberally coat the potatoes with coconut oil spray and add seasonings. Evenly distribute the squash onto the baking sheet for easy cooking. Cook for about 10 – 12 minutes. Repeat the same for the sweet potatoes and cook for 12 – 15 minutes. Check with a fork for doneness! Store in air tight container.
Assemble Your Meals
Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls
This recipe is inspired by an Instagram account I recently started following, @xtinasullivan. I’ve been inspired by her meal preps that she shares on Instagram Stories every Sunday and also her determination to meet fitness goals and inspire others. For the past few weeks she’s shared a Mediterranean quinoa bowl that looked mighty tasty! It can also be served cold (or hot) making it an ideal meal prep for the summer months.
A lot of the ingredients for this recipe can be made in bulk and used in other recipes throughout the week. This specific recipe can also be modified for those on lower-carb or higher-carb meal plans, just change the amount of quinoa and chickpeas in each bowl or sub with riced cauliflower.
Before putting together the bowls, figure out what you’d like the macros to be for each bowl using My Fitness Pal. I create a new recipe, add each of the ingredients and play around with the amount of each ingredient to get to the macros I want. For my quinoa bowls I settled on 21 carbs, 21 protein, and 3 fat.
- 50 grams quinoa, cooked
- 25 grams chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 40 grams oven-grilled chicken (recipe above)
- 20 grams roasted red peppers in water
- 60 grams broccoli
- 14 grams non-fat feta cheese
- lemon pepper seasoning
Line up your meal prep containers and add the amount you’ve chosen of each ingredient – mine included the amounts listed above. I prepped three meals for the week and had leftover ingredients in the fridge if I wanted to customize the prepped meals for a pre or post-workout meal – I would at least double the carbs for those meals.
Riced Cauliflower Bowls
If you’re on low carbs then this meal is for you and is also an alternative to the quinoa bowls above. It’s so simple to throw together and heat up for lunch at work.
- 85 grams Green Giant frozen rice cauliflower
- 2 ounces chicken (use the chicken from the recipe above)
- 15 grams spinach
- 1 Laughing Cow White Cheddar Cheese wedge
- optional: seasoning of choice
I recommend preparing this meal in a glass container, like a Pyrex set, because this meal will be microwaved a bit longer than my usual meals and for easier clean up. Weigh out the riced cauliflower – I use one serving of the Green Giant or you could use rice if want a higher carb meal. Sprinkle the cauliflower with a bit of your favorite seasoning, I use lemon pepper. Add the spinach on top then the chicken – make sure you track the chicken as cooked. In the container add the Laughing Cow cheese wedge and store in the fridge overnight for the riced cauliflower to thaw.
Before heating up the bowl, unwrap the Laughing Cow wedge so it can melt. Microwave the bowl for about a minute, then stir everything together so the spinach can wilt and the cheese can become more like a sauce. Microwave for another minute or so. Carefully remove the glass bowl from the microwave and enjoy!
Quinoa, Squash, Sweet Potato Bowl
Super easy post-workout snack here! I don’t necessarily assemble this meal in advance, but it’s so easy to throw together if you already have the ingredients prepped.
- 50 grams quinoa
- 35 grams sweet potato
- 50 grams squash
Add everything into a bowl and microwave. Enjoy! This quick snack is 124 calories, 17 carbs, 4 protein, 1 fat.
Try out some of these tips, tricks and recipes and let me know your thoughts. Happy prepping!
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