Meal prep can help you get a fit body. It makes achieving physique goals much easier.
If you want to:
- become even healthier than you are right now,
- get leaner and stronger,
- or simply want to look and feel better,
then meal prep is the missing piece of your puzzle that – when solved – will take your wellness to the next level.
Below, I share nutritious meal prep ideas you can try. I’ve included a video.
What Is Meal Prep?
Meal prep refers to the act of planning, cooking, and packaging your meals and snacks in advance. This could be for a few days or the whole week.
I’d like you to hear a key piece of information. Meal prep can make an enormous difference in helping you firm up your body.
- When modern humans get hungry, if they’re not prepared in advance, their good intentions go out the window.
- And that’s when they swing by and get take-out, open a bag of chips, or swing by the office break room to pick up a donut.
- However, if you get hungry and go to your refrigerator or backpack, and there is already a healthy meal or snack, you will more easily stay on track!
Why Meal Prep?
Meal prep helps ensure you get the right mix of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats and control the ingredients, portions, and overall calorie intake.
Meal prep is an excellent strategy to help you maintain a healthy diet and achieve your fitness goals:
- It promotes healthier eating habits. When you plan and prepare your meals in advance, you are more likely to eat balanced and nutritious food.
- Pre-prepared meals keep you from reaching for convenient, often less healthy, options when you’re hungry.
- Meal prep also saves time, reduces stress, saves money, and helps with weight management.
It’s essential that I first acknowledge that people have genetic differences in body composition.
Each person has different proportions and limb lengths, different propensities for adding muscle tone, and varying ways their bodies distribute fat cells for energy storage.
Because I’m a fitness advocate, people sometimes mistakenly think that I must, therefore, believe that everyone should be “shredded.”
So, if your only purpose in learning about meal prep is to become even healthier than you are now, I support you.
However, if you also want to look and feel fantastic – to be leaner and stronger – I will show you how you can use diet and meal prep to accomplish that, too.
How Do I Get Started with My Meal Prep?
To get started with meal prep, you need some quality food storage containers.
I personally prefer the glass ones with the snap-on lids, but whatever you want to use is fine.
You’ll also want a set of recipes that meet your dietary needs and tastes. I’m going to share some of mine in just a moment.
Remember, the goal is to make your life easier and to eat healthier. There is no “one-size-fits-all” way to do it, so find a method that fits your lifestyle and preferences. I’m going to show you what I do, and that should hopefully give you an idea and a jumping-off point for your own meal prep.
Finally, I want to encourage you to consult your own medical doctor before making any significant changes to your eating habits or movement patterns.
Maximizing Your Meal Prep for Optimal Fitness Results
A fit body is built in the kitchen – not just the gym. These meal prep ideas will optimize your nutrition and save time.
Now that you understand the importance of meal prep and how it can significantly impact your fitness journey, I can dive into several meal prep ideas to help you achieve your health and physique goals.
Remember, meal prep is all about setting yourself up for success, so consistency is key.
Part One: Breakfast, Lunch, or Snacks
My daily menu is a bit different than many people’s. I like to eat lightly throughout the day, then sit down for a nice meal each evening. Over the decades, I’ve tried many other ways of eating and dieting, but I eventually realized that this way works best for me.
First, I’ll share my five favorite meal preps for daytime meals and snacks.
I make a big batch of these every Monday and Thursday (for a long time, my meal prep day was every Saturday. But more recently, I’ve preferred making smaller batches twice a week rather than one huge batch once a week):
- Green Tea Iced Protein Latte
- Back Tea Iced Protein Latte
- Healthier Post-Workout Cinnamon Cookie (AIP)
- Green Smoothie
- Vegetable Sticks
“When people get hungry or tired, that’s when they’re most likely to eat something they shouldn’t. However, imagine that anytime you got hungry or tired, there was already a healthy and delicious meal or snack standing by – a meal or snack that already has the optimized grams of protein, calories, and ingredients that are optimum for your body. If that happens enough days in a row, your health and appearance would start to improve. Unquestionably.”
For the protein lattes: I blend teas with plant protein powder (rice and hemp) with whey protein isolate, unsweetened coconut and almond milks. I make 4 of each, and store them in covered glasses in the refrigerator.
The cinnamon cookies are small snacks inspired by Paleo and AIP (autoimmune protocol). They are lightly sweetened (with a bit of maple, honey, and monk fruit). The base is almond and coconut flour (with a bit of white rice flour). They have less fat than a standard cookie recipe. After baking, the cookies are dipped in coconut sugar and cinnamon (an idea I got from chef blogger Erin Antoniak). Three small cookies are filling and delicious; they’re not so sweet that I feel tempted to binge on them.
Green smoothies have been a game-changer for me. I don’t know of a better way to get so many vegetables into my body before 10 am. On an anti-inflammatory diet, one can have up to 9 loose cups of multi-colored vegetables a day. That was never easy to do until I started having a daily green smoothie. I swear by them. I make 4 glasses at a time.
Vegetable sticks: don’t knock ’em til you’ve tried ’em. Cucumber, celery, carrot, yellow or red bell pepper, and jicama.
About 15 years ago, before remote work became popular, I worked in an office in the marketing department and discovered that eating a traditional lunch with my colleagues in the middle of each weekday only made me sleepy and bloated. When I’m working, I like to stay spry. Alert. Lean and mean. So, I started bringing a large container of vegetable sticks daily. It was a brilliant solution. I stayed energized throughout the whole day. And I still do that to this very day.
Here are the exact ingredients and measurements for my daytime eating.
Tea Protein Iced Lattes (Green, and Black)
- For the green tea protein latte, steep a green tea bag and a ginger tea bag in 40 ounces of hot water.
- In a blender:
- 1 cup almond milk and 1 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
- 2 Tbspns whey isolate protein, unsweetened
- 1 Tbspn plant protein
- 1 tspn matcha powder
Add the steeped tea, and blend. Makes 4 glasses. Cool to room temperature, then cover glasses and store in the refrigerator.
For the black tea protein latte, steep an earl grey tea bag, a chai tea bag, and an English breakfast tea bag in 40 ounces of hot water.
- In a blender:
- 1 cup almond milk and 1 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
- 2 Tbspns whey isolate protein, unsweetened
- 1 Tbspn plant protein
Add the steeped tea, and blend. Makes 4 glasses. Cool to room temperature, then cover glasses and store in the refrigerator. When it’s time to drink one, just stir vigorously and pour into a new glass over ice. Enjoy.
Fresh Vegetable Sticks
- 2 large cucumber,
- 1 bell pepper (red or yellow),
- 2 carrots,
- 4 stalks of celery, and
- 1 jicama (or radish or daikon).
Use a peeler to remove the outside skin of all the vegetables (except the bell pepper). Cut into sticks. Divide evenly amongst 4 food storage containers. Seal and refrigerate.
I must admit, green smoothies work better if you have a higher-quality blender.
- Add enough water to cover blender blades.
- 2 peeled and chopped cucumbers
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 bunch of cilantro (optional, because some people don’t like cilantro)
- 1 cup of spinach, frozen
- 1 cup of broccoli, frozen
- 3 stalks of peeled celery
- 1 cup of mango (frozen)
- juice of half a lemon
- 2 brazil nuts (a natural source of the micronutrient selenium)
Blend. Makes 4 glasses. If the smoothie freezes up in the carafe, stop and “burp” the carafe and add another Tablespoon of water, then continue blending.
NOTE: I’m a stickler for cleaning my vegetables. I have a big plastic tub that fits inside my kitchen sink. I only use this tub to wash vegetables and lettuces. I do two soaks. The first soak has a vegetable cleaning spray added to the water; the second soak is just a rinse. After drying, I start peeling.
Healthier Post-Workout Cookies
After an intense workout is the best time to have carbohydrates as the “sugar” helps shuttle nutrients into the thirsty muscle cells. It’s a classic bodybuilding trick. A couple of these small cookies after your workout are all you need to feel restored.
Preheat oven to 350F / 177C. The hardest part of baking is remembering to set out the butter beforehand so it can thaw to room temperature!
Mix the dry ingredients separately from the wet ingredients, then gradually add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
- 2.5 cups almond flour
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ½ rice flour
- 1 Tbspn monk fruit crystals
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cream of tartar (optional)
- ¼ cup butter (room temperature)
- ¼ cup real maple syrup
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup local honey
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbspn agave nectar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp orange extract
After combining dry and wet ingredients, roll dough into balls and dip in this powder:
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
Then, press each dough ball lightly once, with a fork, to flatten a bit. The cookies should be smallish, like the size of a US half-dollar coin (apologies to my friends in the UK and Canada – I can’t think of an equivalently sized item from your country, but hopefully you get the idea).
Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
I like to turn the trays at the halfway mark (5 minutes in), and switch the bottom tray to the top rack, and the top tray to the bottom rack (a trick I learned when working in a bakery as a teenager).
After cooling, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Wipe down the outside of the agave, maple, and honey bottles (to prevent stickiness and insect attraction) and return to the refrigerator.
NOTE: Ovens vary. Altitudes vary. When you’re making your first batch, keep the oven light on and keep a close eye on your cookies. Only then will you know the perfect baking time for your circumstance.
Part Two: Dinner Ideas
Many people find meal-prepping dinners to be very useful. Not so for me, as I enjoy making dinner in my kitchen each night. I usually saute ground turkey with vegetables and spices. I only meal prep dinners if my spouse is out of town for business. When that happens, here are some good dinner meal preps:
One of the most effective meal prep ideas is creating balanced macro bowls. These bowls are versatile, customizable, and packed with nutrients. Here’s how you can do it:
Step 1: Choose Your Proteins – Opt for lean sources of protein like chicken, turkey, tofu, or beans. Grill, bake, or sauté them in batches so you have enough for the whole week.
Step 2: Add Nutrient-Rich Carbohydrates – Whole grains like quinoa, rice, or sweet potatoes are excellent choices. Cook a big batch to divide among your bowls.
Step 3: Load Up on Veggies – Include a colorful array of vegetables such as broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, and carrots. Chop them up and store them separately for easy assembly.
Step 4: Healthy Fats – Don’t forget healthy fats! Avocado slices, nuts, or a drizzle of olive oil can add both flavor and nutritional benefits to your macro bowls.
Step 5: Pre-made Dressings and Sauces – Prepare some homemade dressings or sauces to jazz up your meals without compromising on health. Personally, I find salsa is usually the way to go.
Assemble your macro bowls in separate containers, and you’ll have a week’s worth of balanced meals ready to go. Feel free to mix and match ingredients to keep things interesting.
Sheet Pan Suppers
Sheet pan dinners are a lifesaver when you have a hectic schedule. They require minimal effort and provide maximum flavor.
Step 1: Choose Your Protein and Veggies – Select your favorite protein, such as salmon, chicken, or tofu, and pair it with an assortment of vegetables like asparagus, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes.
Step 2: Seasoning – Season your protein and veggies with herbs, spices, and a drizzle of olive oil for a burst of flavor.
Step 3: Bake – Lay everything out on a sheet pan and bake until your protein is cooked through and veggies are tender.
Once done, divide the sheet pan dinner into containers for multiple servings. These meals can be refrigerated and reheated throughout the week.
Mason Jar Super Salads
This is my favorite for the dinner meal preps.
Step 1: Layer Your Ingredients – Start by adding your favorite salad dressing at the bottom of the mason jar. My personal favorite is olive oil and lemon juice. Sometimes I’ll do apple cider vinegar instead. Then, layer the sturdier ingredients like cucumbers, carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Next, add protein, such as grilled chicken or chickpeas. Finally, top it off with leafy greens like spinach or arugula.
Step 2: Keep It Fresh – Seal the jar tightly to keep everything fresh. The dressing at the bottom prevents the greens from getting soggy until you’re ready to eat.
Step 3: Grab and Go – When you’re ready to eat, simply shake the jar to mix the dressing with the rest of the ingredients, and enjoy a fresh, crunchy salad.
Experience the Profound Benefits of Consistent Meal Prep
Remember, meal prep is all about making healthier choices and staying consistent. Find a routine that works for you and stick with it. As you continue on your journey, you may discover your own meal prep ideas that suit your tastes and preferences even better.
Embrace the art of meal prep, and you’ll find that it transforms your physique and empowers you to live a healthier, more balanced life. Remember to hit your daily protein goal while also staying without your daily caloric allotment (hopefully you used the links I provided to calculate your targets). Also, I encourage you to visit the articles on my site that explain what an anti-inflammatory diet is and why it’s a wise idea.
Now, go ahead and give these meal prep ideas a try. Your fit body and future self will thank you for it.