Taking time out of your Sunday (or whatever day is your free day during the week) to prep your meals for the week is going to be the best way to keep you on track to hit your goals. I’ve been doing meal prep Sunday consistently for the past three years and I get better at it every week. Prepping meals is also a great way to save money – if you already have meals at home or ready to take with you to work, you’re going to less likely to sway away from those meals and go out for lunch. Also, having a prepared lunch with you at work helps me stay on track with my nutrition instead of going out for lunch – I’ve already dedicated time and energy to making the meal. Sure there’s been times I order out for lunch with co-workers or stop at Chipotle after a good lift session, but for the most part I like having prepped meals to keep me moving towards my goals.
I’ve been on a cut for the past three weeks and I’m very happy with my adherence to it. I haven’t been perfect, but I’m already noticing good progress; I have my meal prepping to thank for that. During a cut, it’s more important to prep your meals and take the extra time to weight everything including your serving sizes when dividing them into containers for the week. It’s also important to have plan of attach for Sunday prepping. Being prepared for the whole process will make everything go faster so you can enjoy your Sunday before heading back to the office on Monday morning.
Start with an plan.
Before I head to the grocery store to pickup my items for meal prep, I layout want I think I’ll want eat during the week. I usually create a list of meals for the next week on Friday evenings when I’m lounging on the couch watching Netflix. Sometimes I scroll through recipes I’ve posted for ideas or even Pinterest for inspiration. Be sure to make a list of recipes you want to prep for the week before you get started on the list.
For this past week I chose the following recipes:
- Tuna and White Bean Salad (Sunday dinner and lunches)
- Sesame Chicken, Grilled Asparagus and Broccoli – inspired by this recipe (lunches)
- Sauted Spinach and Protein of choice (Thursday dinner) – not prepped in advance
- Chicken Taco Bowls (Saturday evening and Tuesday) – not prepped in advance
- Fiesta Chicken and Rice – inspired by this recipe, but I make mine “macro-friendly” by adding the rice seperately from the receipe
Write a Grocery List
Call me old school, but I much prefer having a paper list for my grocery shopping, or even simple tasks around the house. If you prefer to have a list on your phone, that’s cool too, but I find that a pen and pepper is just fine for me. After I’ve chosen my meals for the week, I go through the recipes to figure what needs to be purchased. Generally, I buy my main protein sources at Costco to save money so I rarely need to pick that up during the week – this includes chicken breasts, salmon fillets, canned tuna, egg whites. I also have a lot of sauces and seasoning in the pantry so I generally do not need to pick those up unless it’s for a specific recipe. The usuals on my list include produce, like lettuce, carrots, cucumber, zucchini, rice cakes for snacking, sparkling water for my lunch, and Greek yogurt – I keep my list simple.
For this past week my list was:
-egg whites (sadly I couldn’t make it to Costco)
-almond milk – unsweetened vanilla
-riced cauliflower (I bought the frozen Green Giant Riced Veggies)
-peppermint tea (perfect for curbing sweet cravings!)
Prep your food.
The most important part of meal prep Sunday is of course cooking the food. On Saturday evening, I cooked some ground chicken and frozen bell pepper blend, both of which I used to make the taco bowls topped with the shredded lettuce I purchased and rice. On Sunday, I made the sesame soy “chicken” with the MorningStar Chik’n Strips and grilled asparagus and broccoli. I picked the vegetarian alternative to chicken because the macros aren’t too bad for a serving (150kcal/4C/23P/4.5F) and sometimes I just don’t feel like having the real thing. Unfortunately, these weren’t the best meat alternative so I wont’ be purchasing it again.
Anyways, for my Sesame Soy Chicken I used:
-2g hoisin sauce
-35ml soy sauce
-1.5ml sesame oil
-red pepper flakes
-2 servings of the MorningStar Chik’n Strips
I mixed all the liquid ingredients together and soaked the chik’n strips in the marinate for a few minutes. I heated a large skillet over medium heat, then cooked the strips until cooked through and the marinate cooked away – about 8-10 minutes. Slow and steady wins the recipes with meat alternatives since they can sometimes cook up too soft. For the grilled broccoli and asparagus, I simply chopped the fresh veggies and cooked them in the same skillet once the chik’n strips were done. I sprinkled a little bit of garlic salt on them before adding them to a container with the chik’n along with 30 grams of jasmine rice. These meals totaled 252kcal/23C/29P/5F.
I also prepped a batch of Tuna and White Bean salad. For my recipe, I still use a little bit of mayo – about one serving – and usually some cilantro or onion. This is one of my favorite meals to prep for lunches, as long as I remember to store in a glass, air tight container and eat it closer to the beginning of the week. I paired the tuna salad with 45 grams of jasmine rice for my carb source. These meals with the rice are 181kcal, 18C/20P/3F.
During the week, I like to have carrots for a morning snack so I also try to prep those on Sunday to cut down on the time I spend packing my lunch during the week. I buy carrots whole, unless the baby carrots are on sale, peel and chop them on Sunday, and store them in a glass, air tight container with a small amount of water to keep the carrots more fresh for later in the week.
Clean as you go.
Everyone talks about meal prep Sunday and how great it is, but no one ever tells about the cleanup process. After prepping three to four recipes, the dishes start to pile up in the sink, food is on the counter, and the stove is messy. In between recipes, take a few minutes to wash a few dishes and then re-use them, take time to put ingredients away as they’re cooking on the stove or in the oven, and move your prepped meals the fridge or freezer. I don’t always practice what I preach, but I promise cleaning as you go will make everything that much easier!
If you’re just starting your fitness journey, consider also starting your meal prep journey. Meal prepping is one of best ways to keep you on track with your goals and nutrition game. Thanks for reading!