Meal prep – a term that was first used primarily in the fitness and bodybuilding scene, but has now established itself far beyond. It's about planning and the pre-cooking from Eat for one or more days in advance. If you are always prepared, you can eat the right things at the right time. This means the temptation to reach for unhealthy fast food is much smaller. To pursue a healthy lifestyle is Meal prep a very helpful tool. Especially if you have a hectic everyday life, pre-cooking takes a lot of time and mental pressure off of it.
What is meal prep?
Meal Prep, also known as Food Prepping, Prep Meals and in German Essen Vorkochen, means preparing several meals for the following days. Sometimes they even cook for an entire week in advance. The meals are designed to be as efficient as possible, so they are simple, quick dishes that are pre-cooked in several versions. For example, four different recipes are prepared in three times the serving size, which saves time and sometimes money.
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail
This English proverb highlights the relevance of good planning. Meal Prep is a planning tool that can prevent the failure of aesthetic and athletic goals and makes everyday life much easier: By pre-cooking meals, you can control exactly what you eat and in what quantities. Consuming the right nutrients regularly increases energy levels, performance, reduces personal stress levels and also leads to positive visual results.
However, if you fail to plan ahead, you greatly increase the chance of failing in these areas. If you keep missing out on adding groceries to your shopping list and are unable to eat regular meals that stabilize your blood sugar, you can take a big step in the right direction with food prepping.
Many people start a hectic day without breakfast and then have a blood sugar low late in the morning or midday, which makes them reach for food as quickly as possible. These are often quickly digestible carbohydrates, simple sugars, bad fats, fast food or ready meals with all sorts of additives. This leads to a chain reaction in which rapid digestion and the type of food cause repeated energy lows, which are then quickly suppressed by coffee and sugar. However, you can break this vicious circle with simple, quick dishes by cooking them the evening before or on the weekend.
The meal prep Guidelines - 5 tips for optimal preparation
1. The meal prep weekly plan
In order to avoid getting into stressful situations in everyday life, a weekly meal prep plan can be helpful, especially at the beginning. You can use a simple table on which you enter in advance what you eat every day. The quick meals are planned in a structured manner and you know straight away what you need to buy. An example of a meal prep weekly plan and the blank template for the plan are provided here by the MTM Gym in Berlin ( www.mtmgym.de ). This means you can use the completed weekly plan as a guide and then create your own plan that is tailored to your personal eating habits.
2. Shopping & shopping list
The next planning step revolves around shopping: Now that it is clear what needs to be cooked in advance for the next few days or the entire week, a shopping list is used to put together which foods are required. The best thing to do is to check directly which foods are already in stock and which belong on the shopping list. By the way, this should always be clearly visible on the refrigerator or in a suitable place so that you can always note down when something has been used up, which ideally is always in stock. You can read more information about the sensible use of supplies at the following link:
Once the list is in place, the bulk shopping takes place. With the shopping list prepared, this should be relatively efficient.
3. Keep it simple
People often think in far too complicated terms; a prepared meal doesn't have to be a five-course menu and doesn't necessarily require hours of cutting vegetables. You can save a lot of time with frozen food, but it should be noted that these are not convenience ready-made mixes that have already been seasoned and added fat. These often contain additives and allergens such as cereals containing gluten or milk powder. Ideally, the vegetables should simply be blanched and come from organic farming. Quick, simple dishes can still be prepared very tasty. From a health perspective, meal prep meals should always contain vegetables, protein, a little fat and possibly a carbohydrate source. If you quickly get a midday slump and have more fat around the middle of your body (hips and stomach), you should initially avoid carbohydrates during the day and use a little more fat as an energy source instead.
If you're really pressed for time, you can simplify things here too: boiled eggs or beef ham are good and simple sources of protein that don't require any additional effort and are great for on the go.
4. Pre-cook efficiently – Meal prep saves time
If you were to cook something new every day, it would take a lot more time than if you were to prepare large portions that are enough for several meals. A Thai curry or a minced beef bolognese can be pre-cooked for three or four servings. These then only have to be distributed in Tupperware containers and can be warmed up briefly at the time of the meal.
5. Get everything ready the night before
To avoid rushing in the morning, you can lay out everything you need for breakfast the night before. You can find out which breakfast makes the most sense to get through the day efficiently here: Link the perfect breakfast.
For example, if you plan to have tomato scrambled eggs for breakfast, you could wash the tomatoes the night before and put them in a bowl next to a cutting board and a knife. The frying pan and spatula can already be placed on the switched off stove and a plate with cutlery placed next to it.
The pre-cooked meals in the Tupperware containers that come with you to work can be kept in the fridge with Post-It notes so that they are not forgotten. Snacks such as nuts, rice cakes or dark chocolate can also be packed directly into your work bag the evening before.
Meal prep recipes – quick, easy meals
As already explained above in point 3, a simple meal prep dish can be prepared deliciously and efficiently. In the next article there will be some concrete ideas and more detailed explanations. This will be helpful again for planning and filling out the meal prep weekly plan. Until then, I definitely recommend subscribing to the MTM newsletter. It is free and provides a new recipe every week with background information and a shopping list and nutritional information.
All previous recipes can also be viewed here:
1 Doccheck Flexikon: Amino acids. [https://flexikon.doccheck.com/de/Aminos%C3%A4ure; August 23, 2020].
2 Bütikofer, Markus; Hopf, Zensi; Rutz, Guido; Stach, Silke and Grigoleit, Andrea (2015): Human Biology 1: Basics, Metabolism and Defense Systems. Zurich: Compendio Educational Media.