All About That Meal Prep: Part 1
Updated: Oct 2
This topic is particularly important. Very Important! Here’s why: No matter what your fitness goals are (gain weight, gain muscle, lose weight, get stronger, body recomposition, just having more energy, etc), none of them will be possible without good nutrition. None of them. The challenge is that good nutrition may sometimes require a lot of time in the kitchen. This is what keeps people from having a good, sustainable nutrition plan. This is particularly difficult if you have multiple responsibilities such as a job, school and a family.
I hope that this post about my story and struggles with the dreaded and time-consuming task of cooking inspires you to eat healthier, cook more, save time, money and maybe a couple of extra pounds.
This post will cover only the basics. The tools that you I recommend for you to start your journey to good nutrition. This will be a series of posts about my nutrition and how I make it possible without sacrificing quality, time and money.
The main reason I’ve heard that people have to eat out is lack of time to cook. Cooking takes time of course, but it shouldn’t take an entire day. Neither should you be cooking everyday (unless you absolutely love it).
I used to hate meal prep day. Yes, I really meant DAY. It would take an entire day for me to cook for the week. After a while I gave up. I had a super long commute (50+ miles each way) from Monday to Friday. I would go to the grocery store on Saturday and then cook on Sundays. This would leave little time for myself and my husband. So I stopped meal prepping.
I ended up spending more money eating out and gaining unnecessary fat. Fast forward a few years when I visited a friend’s house and she had something I’ve never seen before: a Crockpot. After feeling like I've been living under a rock for not knowing what a slow cooker was, I went home and started researching about ways to meal prep that saved me time. I wanted to know what tools would make meal prep easier keeping in mind my busy life as a mom, pharmacist, athlete, wife and student.
Now I have some tools that I can’t live without for meal prepping.
A slow cooker is a tool that uses moist heat to cook food for long periods of time, sometimes hours. This is what I use to prepare my chicken and some other meats such as beef steak. Once, I even went gourmet and cooked some BBQ ribs. My husband now refuses to eat BBQ ribs anywhere but at home.
I love that you don’t have to babysit whatever you’re cooking. You can even leave the meat cooking overnight. Not my favorite thing to do since I like the smell of coffee in the mornings and not chicken stew, but it’s a great way to save some time. You may not have all night, but the slow cooker does! I have one of the most simple Crockpot slow cookers and it costed me about $30. Money well spent! There are many fancier, more expensive models but mine works perfectly fine.
This one I had for months before actually using it. Believe me, I regret the time it spent without being used. Do you remember that Friends episode where Ross told Phoebe: if you don't ride the bike, it will die. You don't want this to die. Believe me!
This hack boils or steams the rice. Simple! The rice tastes delicious and I don’t have to worry about whether it’s burned or uncooked. Not only does it cook rice, but it can also be used for soups, oatmeal, sushi rice (not quite there yet), it has a steam option (great for veggies) and even slow cooker. There are different varieties of rice cookers and the prices range from $16 to $50+. I don’t think it’s necessary to get the most expensive one.
The Instant Pot is the king of all kitchen hacks. Mine has 7 kitchen appliances in one. It has slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan, and warming pot and some models may have even more options. I mainly use it for chicken, soups, potatoes, etc. I almost buy the most expensive one, but I decided to get my Instant Pot with the 7 basic features. The benefit of this (and the previously mentioned tools) is the ability they give you to multitask.
Which one should you get?
You are probably thinking, why not get just the Instant Pot? In my case, I obtained the Slow Cooker first. Then the Rice Cooker. While adding the Instant Pot to my collection may seem like duplication, I don't regret the decision to buy it. What I do when I meal prep is I use all of these plus my oven to cook. I’m usually in and out of the kitchen in 90 minutes or less (including cleaning, portioning and storing in the fridge). Yes, you read it correctly. Delicious food in less than 2 hours and for more than one day. Think of all the benefits. Plus, you save time doing the dishes! That's what busy people call SUCCESS!
These hacks are great options that help me save money, stick to my nutrition plan and help my clothes fit a little better.
These products can be #foundonamazon and shipped to your door in just a few days. They are worth it and busy mom approved! The best part is that good, sustainable nutrition habits don’t cost a fortune!
Please consult your physician before starting any exercise or diet. These suggestions are only based on my personal experience.