It makes sense that the never-ending amount of meal prep videos online are — to say the least — popular. Not only do they provide inspiration for new recipes, but there are also a number of long- and short-term benefits to this eating habit.
In addition to meal prep saving you both time and money, there’s the added advantage of portion control — a key ingredient for those looking to maintain or lose weight. In fact, data from a study conducted by the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition suggests that meal planning can result in a healthier diet and could be linked to obesity prevention. It’s little surprise that when you cook for yourself at home, and more specifically when you prepare your meals ahead of time, you’re more likely to be mindful of what you cook with and how much.
Even though that seems like it should be enough of an incentive to get you going, we understand that starting a new habit can be challenging. That’s why we came up with this quick and simple four-step guide that’ll make your life that much easier — and healthier.
How to meal prep veggies and protein
- Chop any assortment of root vegetables into bite-size chunks. Fennel, sweet potatoes, russets, carrots, and beets work great for this.
- Place the veggies on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil or ghee. Add fresh herbs if you have them handy.
- Place your choice of protein in an oven-safe glass container and add ¼ inch of your chosen oil and ½ inch water or broth.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Cook protein for 10–30 minutes. Bake veggies for 30–40 minutes. Portion out cooked veggies and protein into separate containers and either chill in the refrigerator or place in freezer.
Not sure how much to cook? Aim for 3 ounces of protein and 1 to 2 cups of veggies for each meal. Multiply that by how many people you need to feed and for how many days.
For example, if you need to feed a family of three people for four lunches or dinners, that’s 12 portions of each item. When you go grocery shopping, make sure to buy at least 36 ounces of protein, or 2.25 pounds of chicken, and 6 to 12 pounds of veggies (1 pound of raw veggies amounts to about 2 cups cooked). Tip: Increase protein amount by 25 percent to account for cooking shrinkage.
Voila! You now have protein and veggies ready to go for the entire week!
Emily Rekstis is a New York City-based beauty and lifestyle writer who writes for many publications, including Greatist, Racked, and Self. If she’s not writing at her computer, you can probably find her watching a mob movie, eating a burger, or reading a NYC history book. See more of her work on her website, or follow her on Twitter.