Meal Prep - a term that first became known primarily in the fitness and bodybuilding scene, but has since established itself far beyond. It involves planning and pre-cooking food for one or more days in advance. Whoever is prepared can specifically eat the right thing at the right time. So the temptation to resort to unhealthy fast food is much smaller. Meal Prep is a very helpful tool for pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Especially if you have a hectic everyday life, pre-cooking takes a lot of time and mental strain off your shoulders.
So what is Meal Prep?
Meal Prep or also known as Food Prepping, Prep Meals and in German Essen Vorkochen stands for the preparation of several meals for the following days. Sometimes you even cook for a whole week in advance. Meals are designed to be as efficient as possible, so they are simple quick meals that are pre-cooked in several stages. For example, four different recipes are prepared in triple portions, which saves time and sometimes also money.
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail
This proverb underlines 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 precooking meals, you can control exactly what you eat and in what quantities. Regularly consuming the right nutrients increases energy levels, performance, reduces personal stress levels and also leads to positive visual results.
But if you miss to plan ahead, you greatly increase the chance of failing on these points. Those who repeatedly miss to put food items on the shopping list and fail to eat regular meals that stabilise blood sugar levels can take a big step in the right direction with Food Prepping.
Many people start a hectic day without breakfast and then have a low blood sugar level in the late morning or at lunchtime, which makes them reach for food that is available as quickly as possible. These are often quickly digestible carbohydrates, simple sugars, poor fats, fast food or ready-made meals with all kinds of additives. This leads to a chain reaction in which the fast digestion and the nature of the food causes repeated energy lows, which are then quickly suppressed by coffee and sugar. However, this vicious circle can be broken with simple, quick meals by pre-cooking them the evening before or at the weekend.
Meal Prep Guidelines - 5 tips for optimal preparation
1. Mealprep weekly schedule
To avoid getting into stressful situations in everyday life, a Mealprep weekly plan can be helpful, especially at the beginning. You can use a simple table to enter in advance what you eat every day. The quick meals are planned in a structured way and you know directly what to buy. An example of a Mealprep weekly plan as well as the blank template of the plan is provided here by the MTM Gym in Berlin (mtmgym.de). So you can use the completed weekly plan as a guide and then create your own plan adapted to your personal eating habits.
2. shopping & shopping list
The next planning step is all about shopping: Once it is clear what will be pre-cooked for the next few days or the whole week, a shopping list is compiled to show which foods are required. The best thing is to check directly which foods are already in stock and which belong on the shopping list. The shopping list should always be displayed on the fridge or in a suitable place so that you can always make a note when something has been used up, which ideally is always in stock. You can read more information on the sensible use of stocks here.
Once the list is complete, the bulk purchase takes place. With the prepared shopping list, this should be relatively efficient.
3. Keep it simple
Often people think too complicated, a prepared meal does not have to be a five-course menu and does not necessarily require hours of cutting vegetables. You can save a lot of time with frozen food, but you should bear in mind that these are not convenience ready mixes that have already been seasoned and mixed with fat. These often contain additives and allergens such as gluten-containing cereals or milk powder. It is best if the vegetables are simply blanched and come from organic farming. Quick, simple meals can still be prepared very tasty. From a health point of view, Meal Prep meals should always contain vegetables, protein, a little fat and possibly a source of cornhydrate. If you have a quick lunch and more fat around the middle of the body (hips and stomach), you should avoid carbohydrates for the time being and use a little more fat as an energy source instead.
If you are really under a lot of time pressure, you can also think in simplified terms here: Boiled eggs or beef ham are good and simple sources of protein that do not require any extra effort and are great for travelling.
4. efficient pre-cooking - Meal Prep simply saves time
This would take much more time than preparing large portions of food for several meals directly. A Thai curry or minced beef bolognese can be directly pre-cooked for three or four portions. These then only need to be distributed in tupperware tins and can be briefly warmed up at the time of the meal.
5. get everything ready the evening before
In order to avoid a hectic morning, you can prepare everything you need for breakfast the evening before. You can read here which breakfast makes the most sense to get through the day efficiently: Link the perfect breakfast.
For example, if you plan to have scrambled tomato eggs for breakfast, you could wash the tomatoes the evening before and place them in a bowl next to a chopping board and a knife. The frying pan and the spatula can already be placed on the switched-off cooker and a plate of cutlery can be placed next to it.
The pre-cooked meals, in the Tupperware boxes that come with you to work, can be put in the fridge with Post-It's so that they are not forgotten. Snacks such as nuts, rice waffles or dark chocolate can also be packed directly into the work bag the evening before.
Meal Prep recipes - quick simple meals
As explained in point 3 above, a simple Meal Prep meal can be prepared deliciously and efficiently. The next article will give some concrete ideas and more detailed explanations. This will again be helpful for planning and filling out the Meal Prep weekly schedule. Until then I recommend to subscribe to the MTM Newsletter. It is free of charge and provides a new recipe every week with background information and a shopping list as well as nutritional information. All previous recipes can also be viewed here.
1 Doccheck Flexikon: Aminosäuren. [https://flexikon.doccheck.com/de/Aminos%C3%A4ure; 23.08.2020].
2 Bütikofer, Markus; Hopf, Zensi; Rutz, Guido; Stach, Silke und Grigoleit, Andrea (2015): Humanbiologie 1: Grundlagen, Stoffwechsel und Abwehrsysteme. Zürich: Compendio Bildungsmedien.