By Christie Stelly
Meal prepping may seem like a tedious task, but in the long run, it can and will save tremendous amounts of time, money and stress.
The majority of people, especially college students, are busy and will rely on eating out when it comes time to eat a meal. Planning ahead will prevent you from getting off track throughout the week.
Meal prep and buying in bulk can help save money in the long term and simplifies the process of cooking. You will no longer spend money eating out, which gets quite expensive quickly. If you meal prep, you are also less likely to allow food to spoil in the fridge before you get around to cooking and eating it.
You do not need to meal prep every meal of every day. If you prefer to cook a fresh dinner at home, you can simply just prepare your lunch meals. Eating breakfast at home can be easy, but if you find you are crunched for time in the morning, pack your breakfast to go. I prefer to prep my food for the entire week on Sunday night and it usually lasts me 4-6 days.
The tools you will need to successfully prep your meals include Tupperware containers, a food scale, and a measuring cup. The components that make up your meals should include a carbohydrate, protein and fat source.
First, pick your carbohydrate, which could be sweet potatoes, white or brown rice, quinoa, vegetables or fruit. If you are someone that needs to pack your breakfast, you could make oatmeal or bring a piece of fruit. Regardless of what carb source you choose, a vegetable should always be included. Micronutrients and leafy greens are beneficial in keeping your body running smoothly and are a good source of fiber.
Second, pick a protein. Chicken is the most popular choice because it is versatile and easy to store and cook. Other healthy forms of protein could be lean ground beef, turkey or fish. If you are cooking for yourself, you should plan on cooking anywhere from one to three pound(s) of meat, depending on how much you eat.
The last group is fats. Healthy fat options include nuts, nut butter, avocado, olive oil, eggs and yogurt. Typically, fats should be portioned smaller than the carbohydrate and protein options. Be aware of recommended portion sizes.
This is where a food scale becomes useful. It can be easy to miscalculate how much you are eating of each group. On the other hand, it can also be easy to underestimate how much you are consuming.
Don’t forget that you need to consume an adequate amount of protein in order to fuel your muscles and workouts. Weighing your meat or protein source is a good way to guarantee you are reaching your protein consumption goals.
Be wary of the portion size of peanut butter if you are consuming that as a source of fat. It can be considered a healthy fat but it is easy to eat double the serving size without even realizing it.
How to Meal Prep a Homemade Chipotle Burrito Bowl in Five Easy Steps
- Pick your carb, protein, and fat source. I recommend white rice, baked chicken, guacamole and asparagus to make a mock “Chipotle burrito bowl.”
- Begin boiling water to cook the rice in bulk. While you are waiting, season the chicken and bake it at 350 for approximately 25-30 minutes, depending on your oven (I typically bake two pounds of chicken). Decide how many meals you will have rice with and cook that amount accordingly (e.g. 5 meals with rice=cook 5 cups of rice). The water should be boiling by now, so you can cook your rice, according to the directions for the rice you choose. The guacamole was already made and bought from the store in this example.
- While the food is cooking, grab your containers used for storing the meals, along with a food scale and measuring cup. Lay the containers out on the counter. A serving of white rice is one cup, so measure out one cup of rice into each container once finished.
- Next, one by one, place each container on the food scale, zero it out and measure the chicken. A good serving size of chicken is typically 4-6oz. After you have done that, you can measure a serving size of the guacamole out as well.
- Lastly, cook the asparagus. Place tinfoil on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. The oven should still be heated from cooking the chicken. Season the asparagus with whatever you’d like (salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc). Cook for 12-15 minutes and then place an even amount into each of the meal prep containers.
- You may add other things to your homemade Chipotle bowls, such as corn, cheese, beans or salsa.
Meal prepping is favored by so many because it makes healthy eating easy! When you have prepared healthy foods in the fridge, it is extremely easy to make the right choices. It can save you time from cooking on a weekly basis and keep you from being wasteful.
For more meal prep ideas, visit bodybuilding.com.