Meal Prep: What to Buy and How to Get Started

If you’ve been reading up on what meal prepping is, you may be thinking– what’s next?

Build a Grocery List

Walking down the aisles, mindlessly staring at all the items on the shelves, we all do it. Building a grocery list has been associated with a healthier diet amongst adults; it gives you direction and allows you to focus only on what you need for your meals. Building a list also allows you to keep a record of what you consistently need in order to build a monthly food and grocery budget for yourself.

Shopping Smart

Buying clean, whole foods can be expensive, which is why shopping smart and maximizing the utility you gain from the foods you do buy is so important. Buying certain foods in bulk such as foundational ingredients that you can use for multiple different meals will stretch the most value out of your dollar. Foods like brown rice or quinoa, beans, nuts, green mixes (spinach, kale, etc), and chicken breast are all good options. You can do a lot with these base ingredients and build different types of meals around them, or always have a solid meal on the days you just don’t feel inspired.

Save Where You Can
Not Everything Needs to be Organic

As you may have noticed from your own grocery shopping, organic foods are usually more expensive than non-organic foods. The good news is if you’re on a budget, or can just appreciate saving where you can, you don’t need to buy everything organic! The EWG has a yearly dirty dozen list that indicates which produce carries the most pesticides in them, in which case you may opt to buy these organically. If it’s not on the list, save your dollars and buy the non-organic option.

Don’t Be Scared of Frozen

You can also save by buying certain foods frozen, such as fruit and vegetable medleys. Contrary to popular belief, frozen produce carries the same amount of macronutrients as fresh produce does. As long as you cook them in a way that uses a low amount of water (i.e sauteing or lightly steaming) they will retain their nutrients. For this reason, avoid boiling or blanching to keep as many nutrients as you can, unless you plan on using the water for a soup broth.

Consider Your Goals
Once you’ve gathered all of your ingredients, think about what your ultimate goal with meal prepping is. Is it just to have an overall healthier diet? Keep your portions at the normal suggested amount for your age and body type and make sure to get all of your food groups in. If you’re looking to bulk and gain muscle, eat larger portions for your meals with high amounts of protein, and keep eating throughout the day. Alternatively, if you’re looking to lose weight, lower your portions to create a calorie deficit, while still making sure to get all food groups in to refuel after your workouts. If you are an active person already and just want to tone up, cater your portion sizes to how many calories you burn from the exercise you do, making sure that you replenish your muscles with proteins post-workout, and (preferably whole grain) carbs for your next day’s energy, as well as getting in your necessary fruit and vegetable amounts.

You take control of your diet from the moment you walk into the grocery store, to the moment you begin cooking in the kitchen, so where are you starting?

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