BUFFET STYLE MEAL PREP SCHOOL
LESSON 4: Buffet Style Meal Prepping for the Week
I gave you an overview of Buffet Style Meal Prep in Lesson 1 of my Buffet Style Meal Prep School and shared a bunch of tips in Lesson 2. Now, I’m going to cover how I do my buffet style meal prepping for the week. I’ll be focusing on the core foods I chose in Lesson 3—again, these foods are just suggestions to help get you started.
Remember, when you are learning anything new, it can feel daunting. But, as you learn and the 21 Day Fix Eating Plan becomes your lifestyle, you’ll figure out your very own favorite ways to EASILY prep YOUR favorite core foods and it eventually becomes second nature.
Benefits to Buffet Style Meal Prepping for the Week
Buffet style meal prepping for the week absolutely changed my life. Seriously. There are several benefits:
- It helps you eat at home more often. Eating at home is both healthier and cheaper. It’s a must if you want to reach your weight loss goal.
- It helps you save money by buying ingredients in bulk. Using ingredients in several dishes during the week means you can buy more of less and benefit from cost savings.
- It saves time & energy. Rather than planning, prepping and cooking several times a week, you save a big chunk of time and energy by doing it once.
Make sure you dedicate enough time on your weekly meal prep day—and make it a priority on your calendar—as it sets the tone for the entire week!
Prepping Your 21 Day Fix Foods
A little review first…
The Portion Fix / 21 Day Fix Eating Plan uses color-coded portion control containers to measure out your daily food—green for veggies, purple for fruit, red for lean proteins, yellow for carbs, blue for healthy fats, orange for seeds and healthy dressings, and teaspoons for oils and nut butters. This is MUCH better than guessing and much easier than counting calories. The amount of containers you are allotted each day depends upon your starting weight, how active you are, and your goals. The Eating Plan Guide contains the chart that helps you calculate your containers. (You can learn more about the 21 Day Fix containers here.
Remember that the foods at the top of the Food Lists have more nutritional value!
Buffet style meal prepping is a simple way to prep your foods for the week that enables you to save time, bring variety to your plate, and satisfy a number of different food preferences and eating styles (like picky kids!).
Now, let’s get started with your lesson buffet style meal prepping for the week…
Proteins (Red Container)
Core protein foods tend to require the most prep as they need to be cooked. I do very little seasoning—generally just salt, pepper, and garlic—so I can use them in any meal, regardless of the type of cuisine. I add more seasonings and/or dressings when I’m creating my actual buffet style meal (I cover this in a Lesson 5.).
Here is how I typically prepare my favorite core protein foods:
>> Lean ground beef or turkey—I use lean ground beef in salads, tacos, rice bowls, in pasta, and sometimes on pizza. During meal prep, I’ll sauté enough for the week, using as little olive oil as possible (preferably none).
>> Chicken breasts/tenders—I also use chicken breasts/tenders in salads, tacos, and rice bowls. I’ll either sauté and chop it OR steam and shred it. (TIP: Buy pre-cooked chicken breast from the deli section!)
>> Organic free range eggs—I soft (or hard) boil a bunch of these for the week. They are a perfect protein and easy to grab on the go.
I cook the following core protein foods just before I eat them:
- Turkey bacon—fried NOT microwaved (too chewy)
- Frozen shrimp—boiled or sautéd
- Eggs—if I’m frying or scrambling them
- Shakeology—shaken or blended with ice (be sure and check out our yummy Shakeology recipes and, if you haven’t tried it yet, be sure and request a free sample!
The rest of my core protein foods don’t require any prep (woo hoo!):
- Nitrate free turkey slices
- Canned tuna
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Fat free ricotta cheese
Seeds & Dressings (Orange Container)
The only thing that requires any prep in the Seeds & Dressing category are the salad dressings, which I use on both my salads and rice or quinoa bowls. These are one of the main ways I season my buffet style meal prep foods and I generally make at least one yummy dressing for the week. I will cover recipes in Lesson 5—Ideas & Recipes.
Carbohydrates (Yellow Container)
Like the core protein foods, the core carb foods tend to need cooking. Again, I do very little seasoning during cooking, instead seasoning them when I put together my meal.
Here is how I typically prepare my favorite core healthy carbs:
>> Sweet potatoes/yams—I generally cut them into cubes or slices, spray them with a very light amount of extra virgin olive oil, season with garlic, salt and pepper, and bake at 375 F for about 20-30 minutes.
>> Brown rice—This is great to prep ahead of time because it takes so long to cook. I use a rice cooker that doubles as an egg cooker and vegetable steamer. Remember not to cook more than you need considering you don’t get too many carbs each day on the Fix eating plan.
>> Quinoa—This is cooked exactly like rice (yes, even in a rice cooker!). Be sure and rinse it—it really makes a difference in the flavor and consistency.
>> Steel cut oats—like brown rice, these take awhile to cook so I love cooking up several servings for the week. Add some pureed pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice during the fall. You can also add Shakeology after the oatmeal is done cooking for some extra flavor, protein and nutrients!
>> Beans—making your own beans from scratch is super cost effective and helps you eat healthy on a budget. But, you can always use organic canned beans. Nonfat refried beans are delish!
>> Whole grain or high-protein pasta—Depending on my week, I may or may not boil up some pasta. I prefer to cook it right before I eat it (I’m Italian…what can I say?), but you can definitely prep a batch ahead of time as long as you don’t overcook it. I’ve found some edamame pasta at Costco in the past, and Trader Joes usually has lentil or quinoa pasta that’s delicious.
The rest of my core protein foods don’t require any prep (woo hoo!):
- Corn—Assuming you’re using frozen corn (I’m into EASY), there’s no need to do much with this other than take it out take it out of the freezer and store it in a container in the fridge. You can either add it as is to salads or microwave it. If you’re cooking them on the cob, add them to your prep list!
- Whole grain crackers
- Whole wheat or corn tortillas
- Whole grain regular or flat bread
Vegetables (Green Container)
My favorite vegetables require varying levels of prep:
>> Romaine lettuce—I eat a lot of this, so I usually chop up enough to fill a large ziploc bag.
>> Spinach—If I’m eating it raw, I don’t do a thing. I’ll often add it to my Shakeology to bulk that up. Did you know it’s healthier slightly cooked? Nutrients are released when you steam or sauté it…just enough to wilt it…making this a VERY nutrient dense food.
>> Broccoli—I’ll often chop and steam some so it’s al dente.
>> Tomatoes—If I’m eating them raw, I generally just chop them up when I need them. I highly suggest roasting them with a light spray of extra virgin olive oil and your favorite dried herbs. YUM!
>> Squash—Love summer squash with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper. If I’m spiralizing it, I do it right when I’m about to eat it so it’s nice and fresh. Spaghetti squash requires baking; just cut it in half, spray the cut sides with a little extra virgin olive oil, place on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 375 until soft. I wait to shred it until I’m eating it.
>> String beans—Best if steamed al dente.
>>Peppers—I don’t prep them if I’m eating them raw, but I will sauté or roast them sometimes with some olive oil and seasonings.
>> Onions—I’ll either chop some raw so they’re ready to accent whatever meal I’m making or broil them for some extra tastiness.
TIP #1: One veggie that takes zero prep is canned pumpkin. I add this to my steel cut oats or plop some on top of my plain Greek yogurt or fat free ricotta cheese. So delicious!
TIP #2: Buy pre-cut frozen veggies (just check the ingredient list)!
Healthy Fats (Blue Container)
My favorite healthy fats require little to no prep:
- Fat free feta or goat cheese
- Fresh or skim mozzarella (string cheese for a snack on the go)
If you have a food processor, it is SO easy to make your own hummus! You can tweak the ingredients so it’s exactly how you like it. This is my favorite—Dill Pickle Hummus.
Fruits (Purple Container)
Fruits are easy! These are my favorites that are a part of my meal prep day:
>> Berries—I wash, dry, and core a bunch of strawberries and store them in an airtight container. (TIP: Buy frozen berries so you always have them on hand no matter what the season.
>> Cantaloupe—This saves well, so I’ll chop up a melon and store in an air tight container.
>> Salsa—If you’re buying it, check those ingredients and get the purest one. I love to make a big batch of my own every so often (click on the previous link for my favorite recipe).
>> Tomato sauce—I’m Italian, I got this down! It’s EASY and well worth it. It freezes well, so make an extra big batch!
No prep necessary for my other favorite fruits:
- Berries—I always have a bag of frozen blueberries or raspberries on hand.
Oils & Nut Butters (Teaspoon)
Unless you’re making your own nut butter (way too difficult for me lol), there’s no prep here. Costco is my almond butter dealer as they have the hands down best price. I make sure I always have extra virgin olive and coconut oils on hand.
I love ALL of Autumn’s freebies:
- Lemon & lime
- Vinegars (the gourmet ones are AMAZING)
- Herbs & spices (seasoning mixes are the bomb!)
- Hot sauce
- Flavor extracts
I have the most fun with the seasoning mixes. These are something I recommend making during your buffet style meal prepping for the week—I will share some yummy recipes in Lesson 5!
I’m Here to Coach You!
I hope this lesson on buffet style meal prepping for the week helps you! I specialize in the Portion Fix / 21 Day Fix Eating Plan and am here to personally coach you on this awesome program. (If you haven’t already seen it, here’s my guide to getting started—How to Get Started on the 21 Day Fix.)
Getting me assigned as your Beachbody Coach is free and easy. Once you’ve completed the steps, I’ll add you to my private Fix Family Facebook accountability group where you can get ongoing support and education!
Here is Lesson 5 in my Buffet Style Meal Prep School series: