Marian, also known as Peanut Butter Plank, gives us the run down on how she got into food prepping as well as a few helpful hints to get you started as well!
As someone who is constantly on the go, I’ll admit it would be a lot easier if I could just stop by a fast food restaurant on the way to work or run across the street to the sandwich shop on my lunch break all because I wanted that couple extra minutes of sleep this morning. But the easy way out doesn’t support what I believe in. And that belief is feeding our body on a daily basis with food packed with nutrients and energy that doesn’t come in the form of something fried or from a plastic wrapper that will keep it edible for at least a couple years.
It has become a very popular habit of those focused on nutrition and fitness to devote a chunk of their time once or twice a week to food prepping. Preparing a certain amount of meals in advance allows for opening the fridge, grabbing your container of chicken and veggies for lunch later that day, and avoiding the empty calories that you could have consumed if you took the easy way out in a matter of minutes.
Most of the questions I receive that are health and fitness related all eventually come back to the topic of food prepping. I owe the success I have seen so far in this industry to being prepared. But a lot of people I talk to about it have no idea where to start. And to be honest, neither did I.
In the beginning it was not pretty to say the least. I had no idea how to organize ways to make the 5-6 meals I like to eat per day in just one afternoon. Thankfully with time comes practice. And practice makes perfect, right? It all comes down to trial and error. It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and try something new! No more stops at that fast food restaurant on your way to work because you’ll be prepared with your own delicious food that supports any health journey that you’re on.
Here is a basic list of a couple little tips I’ve learned over the years to make food prepping for your week hopefully a little bit easier.
Start with a plan. I imagine you don’t walk into the grocery store without some idea of what you’re there for. Hopefully you have a detailed list of exactly what items you need and the quantity to get you through the next couple days. No list? Now is the perfect time to start one! Have a plan for exactly what meals you want to make for the week and stick to that list! No need to add that last minute box of cookies into the cart because they’re not on the list nor are they part of the plan!
Make sure you have enough storage. When I first started food prepping I would keep each individual meal in it’s own plastic bag. That makes for an overload of bags in the fridge and having to take the time to make sure they’re all organized. It’s a great way to do it if you have the time. But working 40+ hours a week leaves little time to sit and sort out 42 bags of food. So instead, I like to keep each individual food in its own container. I invested in a couple sets of large sized nesting bowls (they sell excellent ones at Target) and store 3-4 days worth of chicken, steak, rice, veggies, etc. in each bowl. While my favorite TV show of the moment is on in the background that night before I go to bed, I take 15 minutes to throw together whatever combination of meals I want for the next day and store each meal that will be traveling with my in a small plastic container!
Accept the fact that it takes practice. Making a large amount of food in one afternoon takes a lot of practice! Since starting food prepping, I have a lot more respect for people who cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner in one day and make it look effortless! Eventually you will find what works for you, but I like to start in this order: lean protein (chicken, steak, fish, etc), complex carbs (things like quinoa and brown rice), veggies, and then last finish with measuring any miscellaneous items like snack bags of almonds or cut up fruits or veggies. Once each one is complete, store in whatever container you have on hand so that week you can grab it from the fridge and throw a quick and healthy meal together in minutes.
Mix things up. When I’m not getting ready to compete in a show, my food plan is a lot more flexible. To keep a variety, each week I’ll pick out main foods that I want to include that week. This week it might be asparagus and broccoli for veggies, and chicken breast and salmon for protein. The next week I’ll pick something totally different so I never get bored. Food prepping and eating similar foods all the time doesn’t have to be boring! Sit down the beginning of every week and ask yourself and/or your family what they want on the menu this week!
Find ways to dress it up. The food you prepare doesn’t have to taste like cardboard! Experiment and find ways you like to season your proteins and veggies. One week try a curry inspired chicken and sprinkle some lemon juice over your broccoli. The next try some garlic flavors or red pepper flakes. The beauty of food prepping is that it gives you the freedom to have an endless amount of options and combinations at your fingertips!
Good luck and remember this: your body will thank you for taking the time to make nutritious and healthy meals instead of reaching for something that has a shelf life longer than your favorite TV show series!
Follow Marian on her fitness and food journey on her blog and social media: