Beginners Guide to Meal Prep

Beginners Guide to Meal Prep

Whether you’re someone who has tried meal prepping in the past or completely new to the subject, finding the right approach that works for you and your lifestyle can make this habit both enjoyable and something that lasts more than one week. 

So what actually is meal prepping?

Meal Prepping is the process of pre-preparing entire meals such as your lunches, dinners and even breakfast or preparing individual ingredients to easily create meals during the week such as cutting up vegetables or cooking meats. 

What are the benefits of meal prepping?

Should I weigh my food?

If you are tracking your calorie intake the best way to ensure the highest accuracy is with food scales. You can purchase a set of scales from your local Kmart or online at Amazon starting around $10. While other forms of measuring such as cups and tablespoons can seem more convenient, it often causes larger amounts of inaccuracy on the actual calories in your meals. 

Here’s how to weigh like a pro:

  1. Check your unit of measurement → whether you measure in grams or oz or if you’re measuring liquids in mls your scale will have a setting for each to follow.
  2. Tare your scale → more often than not you will need to weigh ingredients that cannot be placed directly on the scale whether these be foods such as yoghurt, meats, pasta or rice and larger vegetables. In these instances it is best to place the bowl or container on the scale first and tare to zero. This ensures that when you add your ingredient to the scale it is only weighing the ingredient itself and not the bowl. 
  3. Weighing oil, spreads or syrups → to save scraping your biscoff off a spoon and into a second bowl. You can place your jar on the scales and tare to zero. As you spoon out your desired amount, you will see a negative of your amount eg -30g. You can do the same with oil by placing it on the scale and taring to zero then drizzling slowly and re-weighing until you reach your desired amount.
  4. Weighing Raw vs Cooked → be sure to check whether your ingredient is listed as raw or cooked in the recipe as this will impact your weights. Meats generally lose 30% of their weight once cooked through water loss while grains such as rice and pasta gain weight with water absorption. When it comes to non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, tomato, capsicum etc there’s no need to worry about cooked vs raw as the weight difference is very small and insignificant.

How to weigh your food when meal prepping in bulk

Whether you’re cooking a stir fry, pasta or salmon bowl it can be near impossible to re-weigh individual ingredients once it’s all mixed together. The good news is there is no need to worry about this at all. Let’s take a closer look:

If you’re cooking a stir fry which is 500 calories per serve whether it looks like this:

Or looks like this:

When we look at the total across the 4 days they both equal 2000 calories or an average of 500 calories each day. When it comes to nutrition and tracking your calories it is best to look at this from a weekly average rather than day to day. 

How to weigh your food when cooking for more than one person:

If you’re tracking your calorie intake but cooking for yourself and your partner/ friend or even cooking for you and your family the first thing to know is there is no special trick to get it 100% right but simply do the best you can and remember nutrition will never be perfect! When cooking for yourself and others while tracking you can calculate this on a percentage basis (time to whip out your calculator). In this example we’ll continue with a 500 calorie stir fry.

Let’s say you’re cooking for yourself +1

If you both eat roughly the same amount this is an even 50/50. Here you simply need to multiply your stir fry ingredients by 2x 

When it comes time to serve up you can simply split this portion in half.

 If you, however, eat less than the other person you can estimate what this difference would be. For example if your partner eats a bit more than you, you can multiply the recipe by 2.5 to provide an extra ½ serving.

When it comes time to serving you can either weigh the entire meal and portion out with the below:

Total calories = 1250

Your serving = 500 calories.

500/ 1250 = 40%

750/ 1250 = 60%

This means that you are eating 40% of the entire meal while the other person eats 60%. You can roughly estimate this as you serve to provide the other person with slightly more. Or you can also weigh the total meal and then multiply by 0.4 to find 40%. For example:

Total meal weight = 1600g 

Your serving = 0.4 x 1600g = 640g

Take home message: 

When it comes to cooking for more than one person whether this be your significant other, family or friends there is no real ‘trick’ to it, it’s about doing the best that you can.

Remember that the key ingredient in your meal prep journey is flexibility. Nothing in nutrition will ever be perfect so even if you think your measurements may be slightly off or you're not sure if you've portioned out correctly, the goal is to make meal prepping work for you. If you're looking to take your nutrition to the next level our Platinum Membership includes all Meal Guides and a 1500+ Recipe Library.