Food prepping saves me the time and headache of cooking every individual meal, keeps me on track with healthy eating, and saves me money by not eating out. I set aside about 4 hours each Saturday or Sunday to buy, chop/prepare and cook most of the food I will eat for the upcoming week. This may seem like a lot of time, but in reality, I save a tremendous amount of time over the course of the week by doing it this way. I do not eat out and minimize eating pre-packaged foods. This means virtually everything my family eats has to be prepared and cooked. This comes out to 21 meals a week that needs to be made. I choose to food prep lunch, snacks, and some dinners. I do not prep breakfast because cooking it every day is part of my relaxing morning ritual before work.
Food Prepping also helps me with making the healthy decision ahead of time. If I make myself easily available food, I am much less likely to fail my nutritional goals.
It all starts with planning. What meals will I eat, and how much of each ingredient do I need to buy. I eat for health and performance and therefore plan my meals accordingly. Check out my previous post, What Eating for Health Looks Like. I avoid the aisles and shop the perimeter to find all the fruits, vegetables, and meat. Try to get as much color and variety when buying produce as well as meat. Variety generally means different types of Vitamins and Minerals that our body systems need to function properly.
- Veggies: I eat Beet, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Cucumbers, and Bell Peppers daily. The other Vegetables I cut up for Mixed salads(Romaine, Iceberg, Broccoli, Celery, Mushrooms, Tomatoes) and Stews and Stir-Fries(Potatoes, Carrots, Celery, Garlic, Onions, Mushrooms, Peppers, Swiss Chard and Collard Greens.
- Fruit: I eat Apples, Pears, Banana and Citrus(Orange, Mandarin, or Grapefruit) daily
- Meat: I eat Chicken Breast and Eggs daily and a few times a week add Pork, Venison, Cow or Fish
- Grain: I will Occasionally eat Rice with dinner and/or Toast with breakfast
Food Prep Supplies
- Storage: Pyrex 7x5x1.5 and Berkley Jensen round glass containers. I have 7 Pyrex and use them for lunch storage. I have 10 round glass containers and use them for snack storage. Glass is superior to plastic containers because it doesn’t leave a funky chemical after taste when microwaved or when placing freshly prepared hot food into the storage containers.
- Processing: A sharp chef’s knife is indispensable. It is worth it to learn how to sharpen your knives with a sharpening stone. A well-maintained knife does the work for you and is a time saver. A paring knife is also essential for small jobs like cutting up fruits. A sharp vegetable peeler and meat thermometer are kitchen essentials also.
- Cooking: I use a few Cast Iron pans for all my stir-fries on the stovetop. A well seasoned and maintained cast iron pan gives the perfect sears and heats evenly. A few Baking trays for the oven are all I need to cook the meat perfectly. Lastly, a Crock-Pot pressure cooker is perfect for steaming veg, making stews, or even searing meat.
It’s Monday morning; all the prep work is done. I can now enjoy the fruits of my labor. I purposefully wake up an hour and a half before work to relax and slow down before my high-energy day begins. Part of my morning ritual is taking 20-30 minutes to cook breakfast. I enjoy the art of cooking, and it makes me happy. It is somewhat of an art form.
I usually pan-fry 3 Eggs, reheat up some prepped stir fry, pan sear a toast, or have half an avocado. Breakfast is purposefully a fat-filled meal for me.(Egg yolk, Butter/Olive Oil, Avocado) I do it this way because I also supplement with Vitamins in the morning. Some of these Vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they are transported in the body via fat. Taking Vitamins with a meal will help with absorption rates.
The Vitamins I supplement with are a Multi-Vitamin, Fish Oil, Calcium, Vit D, B Vit complex, Vit E, Zinc, and Magnesium. Explaining why I take what I take is beyond the scope of this particular post. I will write a blog post in the future outlining the importance of vitamin supplementation for most people. The short answer is that yes, you can get all the vitamins you need through food. The reality is that the vast majority of people eat like shit and are chronically nutritionally deficient.
Most snacks that I eat are some fruit, vegetable, or healthy fat. Not much prep work goes on in this category. I make sure to stock bags of apples, pears, oranges, bananas, or berries that I grab every morning and put into my lunch box. I do have to prep vegetables like peppers and cucumbers. Lastly, I always have a serving of mixed nuts partitioned out into snack bags or glass containers for an easy grab and go. I also enjoy yogurt and seltzer water daily.
Food prepping is generally focused around lunch—lots of baking and steaming for these meals. I cut up and cook about 7 pounds of Chicken breast and a Pork or Beef roast. I bake the Chicken in the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes or until 160 degrees in the thickest piece’s center. This is preferable to grilling because baking saves all the natural juices from the chicken. I then use that juice to pour over the chicken once it is partitioned into individual containers. I also steam about 10 sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets to go along with the lunch.
Each container contains 7 oz of Chicken, a sweet potato, a few carrots, and half a beet. This meal is 450-500 calories. I have one of these most days of the week.
What I bring to work
What you see below will get me through a 13 hour day. I usually bring 3 fruits, a vegetable, mixed nuts, and yogurt for snacks, along with the prepped lunch.
Dinner and Misc…
My wife and I like to cook dinner from time to time. I will generally food prep 1-2 big dinners that will last for about 5 days. Most times, it is a soup and/or slow-cooked roast. Along with that, I will cook stir-fries/sides in the cast iron pans while the Chicken is baking and vegetables are steaming.