by Chelsea Garcia, MEd, Certified Exercise Physiologist
Batch Cooking vs. Meal Prepping
I've never been one for meal prepping because I personally get bored easily and need to change it up and have options in my life. However, I've heard of a new fun foodie fad going around called "Batch Cooking." When I read about nutrition trend I thought to myself hey, I kind of do that! So, I decided to do more research to have more of a firm plan in mind when it comes to staying on track and eating nutrient dense foods. Don't get me wrong, if you love to meal prep and love having your grab and go chicken, broccoli, and wild/brown rice keep doing what you're doing! If it works for you that's great, but I prefer to not be in the kitchen cooking for hours on my precious Sunday.
What is Batch Cooking?
Batch cooking is different than meal prepping because you aren't cooking everything in advance. You'll be preparing, cleaning, and chopping your ingredients. Ideally you'll want 3-4 types of veggies that you can rotate and use for different meals. After I cut them all up, I like to portion them out into bags or containers and freeze them. Make sure to pick veggies that you like as well as ones that are versatile. Next, you'll need to pick 3-4 protein sources. These can be animal protein or plant protein or a mixture of the two. You can even pick up some individually packaged proteins to freeze and then control how much you unthaw at a time keeping your meals fresh.
Batch cooking will require a lot of supplies. Buying in bulk is your best option for convenience. Plus it saves time and money. Buying frozen veggies is also a great way to make cooking easier, plus they are usually already cut up for you! Don't be afraid to buy frozen. Our frozen food technology has come a long way. One of the many benefits of buying frozen vegetables is that they are picked at the peak of their freshness and then flash frozen. Most of the time fresh vegetables are picked before they are completely ripe so that they can make the long trip all the way to the store without spoiling. Once something is picked its starts losing nutrients right away. If you love buying fresh, then check out a local farmers market to make sure you're getting the freshest produce.
After you are done preparing you can chose to cook all veggies especially ones like broccoli, sweet potatoes, and squash in a big pan. Refrigerate those veggies for use in multiple meals later in the week. You can also cook your grains ahead of time like quinoa or rice. If you can, leave your animal proteins to cook the day of the meal. This way it will still taste fresh rather than sitting in the fridge for 4-5 days before eating.
Assembling your meals will be much easier with 2/3 of it already prepared to just heat up and go! Cook the protein and then add a grain and two veggies to complete your meal. Don't forget to add in healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and oils. The toppings/dressings can really change the flavor of your meal. Use teriyaki or low sodium soy sauce for more of an Asian twist or add some salsa and make guacamole for more of a Mexican flavor!
Good Ingredients to Use:
Vegetables: broccoli, zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, onions, asparagus, spinach, sweet potatoes
Protein: chicken, fish, egg, shrimp, lean turkey, lean beef, chickpeas, beans
Healthy Fats: olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.)
Grains: quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, lentils, legumes, oats
These are just some suggestions on what you can try. If you don't like broccoli then don't incorporate it into your meals. It's much easier to eat healthy when you are excited about what you're eating. Try different combinations throughout the week to keep it from getting stale.
1 Protein + 2 Veggies + 1 Grain + 1 Healthy Fat
1 Protein + 3 Veggies + 1-2 Healthy Fats
2-3 Veggies + 1 Grain + 1-2 Healthy Fats
If you are in need of more specific guidelines and are curious as to how many calories your body burns at rest you can call 310-582-8212 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a FREE Consultation. Don't forget with the purchase of any Phase IV Nutrition Program you get a FREE RMR Test and a FREE Body Composition Analysis for the month of July!