Tennessee State University

Meal Prep 101

Meal Prep 101

By Chef Monay

If you are one who lives a busy life but still loves a home cooked meal or just simply don’t feel like taking the time to prepare a full meal every day, then I have the perfect solution for you. Most of us are pretty busy in our day-to-day lives whether you are a parent, student, or working full time, it can be hard, or impossible for some, to cook all of your meals at home each day. This is where meal preparation or “meal prep” can quickly become one of your favorite things to do. Meal prep comes in handy because you will know for sure that you will have a great home cooked meal of your as often as you choose. Meal Prep can also decrease your chances of eating junk or fast foods if you get busy during your daily plans.

Here are some important tips to get you started!

TIP #1- Invest in some good quality containers! Be sure to get ones that are BPA free and won’t fall apart in the microwave or oven. Tupperware or glass works best.

TIP #2- PLAN! Do not overwhelm yourself! Cooking up a whole week’s worth of meals is a big task. Even the best of us can struggle with that, so I recommend sticking to a few days at a time to help you get you used to the process.

TIP #3- Prep! With there being so many different ways to prep your food, I will go through some of the things that work for me, but remember you should adjust it to suit your lifestyle. The number one thing for me is taste. Like many people, I actually enjoy eating healthy foods when it packs amazing flavor. Unless you are a hardcore clean eater, cooking up a dozen plain chicken breast and steamed broccoli probably won’t float your boat, so do your best at spicing things up so that you can actually enjoy it. I love experimenting with flavors, in particular spices and homemade marinades and dressings so don’t be afraid to give new flavors a try.

TIP #4- Cooking! The point of meal prep is to make life easier for you during the week. This doesn’t mean you have to “precook” all of your food though! For example, you can marinate your chicken breasts, place them in the freezer, and defrost when you’re ready to use them. The same thing applies to homemade turkey burgers and etc. Another example is to make one larger batch of your favorite sauces and refrigerate it, rather than make several smaller batches. If you like your vegetables freshly cooked, then you can portion them out for each meal and put them in containers ready to be steamed or cooked. If you know you will be making a meal that requires a lot of chopping, you can do this in advance as well. But when it comes to cooking your good carbohydrates such as quinoa, brown rice, and pasta, I recommend cooking these upfront when you are ready to eat them because they do not take long to cook.

TIP #5- Snacks! Snacks are also important when it comes to a diet or just trying to start a healthier eating style. Each snack should include protein and fiber, easy to prepare, portioned out, and made visible and available.



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