Unconventional Meal Prep Strategies & Secret Meat Shopping Guide
Written by Michele Vieux
Once people start to understand basic nutrition concepts and how they should be eating for optimal health and performance, their next series of questions are often about meal prep strategies or how to get out of the rut of eating the same thing all the time.
I think both of these issues can be easily addressed with a couple of meal prep tips that I use that you may have never considered. These are especially helpful for single individuals, since sometimes you might not want to cook and eat an entire recipe because it means you could be eating it for days or end up throwing a bunch out (which is no good either!) If you are caring for someone else or happen to know you are going to be out of commission for a while; e.g. you’re having surgery, returning late from a vacation, etc. – option number two below might be something you should think about doing.
Option #1 – Something I’ve always done is to buy meat on sale and then package it into individual portion sizes and freeze them in baggies to be quickly thawed when you need it (see image above). If you want, you could throw a marinade in with it so all you have to do is thaw it – either overnight in the fridge or by running it under cold water for 10 minutes – and throw it on the grill or in a pan.
Option #2 – What if you could cook dinner now for next week – or even next month, even if you didn’t know exactly which night you’d like to eat it? You’re in the kitchen cooking tonight’s dinner anyway…so another option is to buy a large chunk of meat – like a roast – and cook the whole thing, even if it is going to be too much, and then freeze some of the leftovers that you don’t use for the next day’s lunch in portion sizes. Meats that freeze well are pot roasts, pulled pork/beef/chicken, meatloaf, and chilis/soups/stews/sauces.
You can even use a freezer-safe container to create your own healthy frozen meal! You can make a paleo lasagna and then freeze a few slices into individual portion sizes. Or throw a slice of meatloaf in a container with those mashed sweet potatoes and green beans! They will last in your freezer for a couple months without getting frostbite. I stocked up on these before my knee surgery, so I’d have easy meals on hand when I was unable to do anything too laborious.
So open your mind and be creative, not only with your recipes and trying new and different types of food, but also in how you look at food prep and what it means to you. It may allow you to not only be more creative and add variety to your life but it also has the potential to save you money, since you are buying on sale, not wasting leftovers, and aren’t forced to spend $10-$20+ per meal for eating out in a pinch when you didn’t have any food on hand. Look at your routine and think about other things you can do to make sure you’re never left unprepared!