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The idea of meal prepping can be completely overwhelming and daunting…I get it! Sometimes even just the thought of it can be exhausting! So I want to help make it as easy as possible for you! Maybe you’re reading this because you want try meal prepping for the very first time. Or maybe you’ve been prepping for a while and want to find out ways to make it more efficient. Either way, keep reading! I’m about to share with you all of my meal prep tips & tricks that I’ve learned over the last 5 years of prepping!
If you’re a completely newbie, I recommend you pause for a second to read my other post called How to Meal Prep. That post will break down the entire process into 4 simple steps! Go check it out now!
Picking Smart Recipes
Picking the right recipes can make or break your meal prep session. I’ve definitely learned this the hard way! One time I chose to make 2 recipes that both used the oven for long lengths of time (of course at different temperatures) and required lots of “pre-cooking” before the meal even got to the oven. Long story short…I was meal prepping for almost 5 hours. I vowed to never make that mistake again!
So what makes recipes “smart”? If you’ll be prepping more than one dish, make sure they both aren’t super complicated. Typically if I do one more in depth meal, I make the other one a simple, one-pan meal. If one of your recipes requires the oven to cook, then pick another recipe that cooks on the stove or grill. And definitely don’t pick two crockpot meals that both takes 8 hours to cook! Also, if one meal has a long cooking time in the oven, see if you can be using that cook time to start cooking your next recipe.
Another bonus is if you can pick recipes that have some similar ingredients. Do they both require brown rice? Then cook up a large batch together! Do they both require chopped onion? Then chop all of it at once and measure and separate later.
PRO TIP – Need some help pairing two recipes? Try making my Low Carb Ground Turkey Skillet and pairing it with my Salsa Chicken Bake. One recipe all cooks up in one pan in the oven, while the other all cooks in one pan on the stove! Make the Salsa Chicken Bake first, that way while its in the oven you can start making the Low Carb Ground Turkey Skillet on the stove. That’s almost 30 minutes saved!
Pre-Calculating the Macros
If you count macros or calories, I highly recommend you calculate each meals macros/calories before you make it. I can’t tell you how many times I didn’t do this, only to realize that the end product had half of my days worth of fat in it. Plus recipes are so easy to customize to better meet your needs! I personally use MyFitnessPal (the free version) to track my macros. It has a wonderful recipe feature as well.
NEED HELP? – If you’ve never used MyFitnessPal before, check out my post called How to Track your Food Intake Using MyFitnessPal
After you have calculated the calories/macros, make any adjustments as needed. Here are some frequent adjustments I make:
- Decrease the fat – Use slightly less oil or cheese. Use ground turkey instead of beef, or just buy a leaner cut of meat.
- Decrease the carbs – Use cauliflower rice instead of regular rice or use zucchini noodles instead of regular pasta. Or simply just use less of something that is higher in carbs (ex: cut the beans in half)
- Increase the protein – Use more meat than what the recipe calls for. I am constantly using an extra chicken breast to increase the protein content. Or use protein-enriched pasta or even chickpea pasta instead of regular pasta.
Now that you know exactly what recipes you are going to make and how to modify them (if needed), it’s time to get cooking. But just like I told you to pick smart recipes, also make sure you are cooking smart. So what does this mean?
Cutting Board Order – Cut all of your veggies first, and then your meats. This way you don’t need to wash the cutting board in between
Read Ahead – Read your recipe thoroughly. See if there are certain things that you can do simultaneously. For example, can your brown rice be on the stovetop cooking while you are chopping and trimming your chicken?
Never Stand Still – Save time by always doing something. If you’re waiting for something to boil, is there something you can be chopping? Or while your dish is simmering on the stove, can you be washing any dishes? You shouldn’t have much down time while meal prepping.
Print out Your Recipes – If you’re tracking your macros, then this is going to be very important. I always print out my recipes this way as I’m chopping and measuring things, I can write down the exact amount I’ll be using. The recipe might call for two medium sweet potatoes, but the difference between a 150 gram sweet potato and a 300 gram sweet potato can be huge! So as you are weighing each item, write down the exact weight. Then once you are all done cooking, you can go back to MyFitnessPal and edit the quantities in your recipe for the exact amount that you used!
RELATED POST – Did you make salads? Read How to Meal Prep Salads (and keep them fresh!)
If you’ve made it this far in my post, then you’re ready to get started! If you need some recipe inspiration, definitely turn to Pinterest. I have hundreds of pins saved for when I need a new meal prep recipe. You can see all of my saved pins HERE.
Do you have any meal prep tips or tricks that work for you? Share them in a comment below!