How To Food Prep: The Essential Gear You Need
If you want to eat clean and build your motivation to maintain and exceed your fitness goals, mastering the art of food prep is a must. Proper food prep will help you avoid bad eating habits and make incorporating a healthy diet into your routine easier than ever. Whether you work long hours or just need that extra push, food prep is simply essential.
Check out our list of all the gear you need for how to food prep.
Healthy eating doesn't start in your kitchen. It begins when you visit your local supermarket. Grocery lists are one of the simplest, yet most overlooked components in how to food prep. By spending a few minutes putting together a weekly shopping list you can:
- Eliminate unplanned, impulse purchases.
- Reduce the amount of spoiled food you throw away.
- Incorporate healthier foods into your diet.
- Get in and out of the grocery store quicker.
- Make fewer trips to the grocery store.
- Save time and money.
There are a number of apps that can make the process of putting together a healthy shopping list easier and more time efficient. Three of our favorites include: FoodSmart Healthy Grocery List (Google Play / iTunes), Fooducate (Google Play / iTunes), & Apples2Oranges (iTunes). These apps will also help you compare the health benefits and nutritional value of the items on your list.
Images courtesy of the Fooducate Facebook page.
When it comes to learning how to food prep, portion size is incredibly important. Learning how to use a food scale is a great way to help you recognize the correct serving size for the foods you eat. Food scales range from old-fashioned metal scales with weights and measures to programmable digital scales like the Fitlosophy Digital Food Scale. Selecting the right scale for you comes down to four important considerations:
- Your budget.
- How easily the numbers can be read.
- Whether or not it has a cup or bowl large enough to hold the food you need to weigh.
- If it is easy to clean and store.
Even if you eventually stop using it, it will have taught you valuable information about the correct serving sizes, which is a good investment for helping you reach your long-term health and fitness goals.
One of the simplest ways to eat healthier is to use measuring cups when preparing your meals. Many of us like to eyeball how much of an ingredient we add to a dish, but it's hard to realize how off your portions are without using a measuring cup. As we mentioned earlier, proper portion size is essential.
For example, ingredients containing monounsaturated fats, like sesame and olive oil, can have beneficial effects on your heart when eaten in moderation. However, all fats provide 9 calories per gram. So while monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and contribute vitamin E to your diet, they are best enjoyed in moderation; moderation that is more precisely controlled with the use of measuring cups and spoons.
As you can probably guess, sharp knives work better than dull knives. A sharp blade can cut with less brute force than dull one. Less brute force means less damage to your food, which can easily be seen by looking closely at the cut. Dull knives will crush more of the cells surrounding the cut, which ultimately accelerates wilting and discoloration, while sharp knives will slice through ingredients cleanly.
A sharp blade is also more predictable. When it chops, or is drawn across the food's surface, it won't slip. This makes it easy to control how the blade moves through the food, giving you more control over your chopping or slicing. A dull blade, however, is much more likely to slip, which makes control difficult and increases the risks of the blade slipping off the food and into your hand or fingers.
Put simply, a dull knife will slow you down and is potentially dangerous, while a sharp knife will make your food prep easier and more enjoyable.
The next essential piece of gear in how to food prep has to be a good cutting board. Cutting boards help you protect your countertops from damage, keep your knives sharp, move chopped or sliced food to a skillet, pot, or grill, and clean up after you've finished preparing your meals and snacks.
It's a good idea to have more than one cutting board: one exclusively for meats and another specifically for produce. Having two boards helps prevent cross contamination of the raw meat preparation with your vegetables, starches, herbs, and fruits.
If you're food prepping for the first time, cutting boards are a good place to begin. Purchase two: one inexpensive plastic board and one decent-sized wooden board. As you become more familiar with food prep, you'll begin to develop a preference for which type of cutting board you enjoy using and you can expand your selection from there.
Seasonings & Flavored Oils
So many delicious herbs and spices can be added to your food to enhance its overall flavor. Some of our favorites include sage, rosemary, turmeric, chili pepper, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, garlic, basil, oregano, cilantro, cayenne pepper, and parsley. As an added bonus, many of these spices are superfoods that can help reduce your chances of developing serious diet-related diseases like heart disease and cancer.
Similarly, many flavored oils contain properties that reward you with several health benefits. Virgin olive oil, for example, can help prevent several serious diseases including heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity. Coconut oil is another source of big benefits, which can help strengthen your immune system, enhance your digestive health, improve the health of your bones, reduce protein loss in your hair, and prevent diseases affecting you heart, liver, and kidneys. But remember, when it comes to oils, a little can go a long way!
The crockpot, aka slow cooker, is one of the best time-saving appliances in the kitchen. Slow cookers are great for beginners just learning how to food prep because all you have to do is add your food, cover it, turn on the crockpot at low heat, and let your meal cook while you carry on with your busy day.
To help you get started, here are a few helpful tips to make food prepping with a crockpot easier:
- Vegetables take longer than meats to cook in a slow cooker. Be sure to chop or dice your vegetables to roughly the same size and place them at the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Browning meats beforehand can help reduce their fat content, while also caramelizing the sugars in the meat, adding to their appearance and flavor.
- Seafood should be added during the last hour of cooking time, otherwise it will overcook and have a rubbery texture.
- Don't lift the lid to stir, especially if you're cooking on low heat. Each time you lift the lid, enough heat escapes from the slow cooker to extend the cook time by approximately 20 minutes.
Containers are important in how to food prep for several reasons. First, containers are the easiest way to store and seal your healthy meals, keeping them fresh all day. Second, they help you keep your meal portions in check.
It's important to invest in good containers. Purchasing heavy-duty containers that are stackable and microwave-, freezer-, and dishwasher-safe can prevent a lot of unwanted and unneeded head aches when prepping, storing, and cleaning up after your meals. We recommend our Sure Seal XL containers, which are specially designed to conveniently fit in our line of gym backpacks.
Meal Management Bag
Eating right is a way of life. In order to reach your fitness goals you need a meal management bag that is as dedicated to a healthy, active lifestyle as you are. That's why 6 Pack designed our line of meal management systems to help you take complete control of your nutrition. These insulated lunch boxes allow you to plan, prep, and carry up to five meals plus supplements and beverages.
Whether you're at the gym, the office, or traveling for work, you can always pack the fresh, healthy meals you need with the help our meal management bags.
As you become more familiar with how to food prep, you'll find that incorporating it into your weekly routine is easier than you originally expected and will save you a ton of time in the long run. Plus prepping your food ahead of time leaves you with absolutely NO excuse to turn to unhealthy snacks or fast food. The structure is there, and the power is yours.
Every cook knows that one of the overlooked tools in the kitchen is a timer. There are tons of options available. We have a great recommendation for a cool watch to keep you looking great and keep your food tined just right. Our recommendation is Gear'd Hardware. Their digital watches are a fantastic way to keep you looking cool with their large face watches. Their high quality watches will keep ticking for years. They are a perfect swole watch for the days when you don't need to monitor your heart but need to check on the chicken in the oven. Check out their Zx1-1116 and Zx1-1219 models.