Are you looking to make some healthier choices this new year? We have gathered some great tips from TSDA’s President Kayleigh Kaiser!
“I truly believe that the secret to success lies in planning. As the saying goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” But you have to know how to plan in order to prepare. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I want to meal prep, but I don’t know where to start,” you are not alone! I want to give you some basic tips to get started.”
- Lean Protein: So, protein is super important when it comes to meal planning. Protein helps with satiety, which helps in not feeling hungry, but also help with maintaining and building muscle. My favorite source of lean protein is generally chicken because it is versatile and it is generally more inexpensive than other types of lean protein. If using ground meat, try going with a higher lean percentage.
- Whole Grain: Another part of meal planning is to incorporate a healthier option for a starch instead of a refined grain. Refined grains take away the bran and the endosperm, which also takes away important components of the grain including fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and zinc. My go-to is whole grain rice, but some other good options are quinoa, freekah, farro, and oats. I also like to have sweet potatoes as a carbohydrate option.
- Greens: Another thing that I love to add to my meals are some greens. I know they are not everybody’s favorite, but they are great way to add bulk to your meal with less calories. Asparagus, broccoli, green beans, spinach, and kale are also great options.
- Snacks: I like to snack and I know I am not the only one. I try to stick with one snack between each meal, and I make sure to incorporate some protein within these snacks. Greek yogurt is one of my favorite snacks, and because I like a little “crunch” I like to add a bit of granola. Some of my other favorite snacks are almonds, rice cakes and peanut butter (MEASURE IT OUT), and protein bars. Protein bars are more of a treat since I really like to try to stick to whole, natural food items. My rule of thumb is: make sure there’s a good source of protein.
- Cooking: Bulk cook. Do it once or twice a week and be done with it. Usually for protein, 3 oz. per meal is plenty, and males more around 5 oz. With chicken breast, I will weigh before I cook, and whatever I do not use will go in the freezer. I usually season my chicken with Mrs. Dash or a variety of spices. This last week I sprinkled some rosemary, garlic, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice over some chicken. I’m also a busy college student, so I make my chicken in the oven so I do not have to tend to it.
Now, many people get confused on how to measure their rice or whole grains when cooking in bulk. Here is what I do: I make however many servings I need for the week. I then take the cooked product and weigh it. I divide it by how many servings I made, and now I know how much goes into each meal.
Honestly, it really depends on the food. I’ve noticed most chicken will last about 3-4 days depending on the brand, while things like ground beef will only last 1-2 days. I’ve had some chicken that taste a little weird after 2 days. Some brands have a different amount of initial microorganisms. Make sure to pay attention to off-tastes, colors, and odor, changes in texture, and slime. Here are some recommendations from food safety according to foodsafety.gov
Sample Meal Prep
Breakfast: Cinnamon and Berry Oatmeal
-1/2c steel cut oats
-4 egg white
-1/2 c. berries (any kind)
-cinnamon to taste
-Stevia to taste
Directions: Make steel cut oats according to package. Add egg whites and stir continuously until the egg whites are no longer liquid. Remove from heat and put oats into a bowl. Add berries of your choice and a dash of cinnamon to taste. This can also be made in a crockpot for about 3 days worth of breakfast. Add the berries when serving.
Snack: 1 oz of almonds and 1/2c cottage cheese
Lunch: Chicken and hummus wrap
-Flat out Wrap
-3 oz chicken
-1 TBSP hummus of your choice
-Veggies of your choice
Snack: Apple with 1 TBSP peanut butter
Dinner: Ground turkey, green beans, and sweet potatoes
-3 oz ground turkey
-1 c green beans
-3 oz sweet potatoes
-1 Tbsp olive oil
Snack: 1 cup Greek yogurt
This is a very, very simple meal prep example. Feel free to explore some of your own favorite flavors!
Written by TSDA 2018 President Kayleigh Kaiser. Check out her blog here!