We get a lot of questions about recipes… “What are the best mealprep recipes?” That depends! GASP! What is your criteria for “best”? The fastest ones, the easiest ones, certain styles of cuisine, cooking methods… it’s going to require some trial and error on your part to find your routine. Today we are going to cover what kind of recipes you should pick for your mFeal prep arsenal, substitutions for certain high calorie ingredients, and alternate prep methods. Meal prep is totally one of those things that seems intimidating until you nail down a system. Then it’s cake. So let’s find your system. (nutrition coach disclaimer)
BUILDING YOUR RECIPE ARSENAL
Figuring out what you want to eat every day for a week requires some planning, but if you want to kill it at meal prep, it’s a necessary evil. Plan your menu while keeping a few things in mind:
- Use recipes that play off of each other. So say you want to make 4 cups of steamed rice for the week, you want some meals to go around it… but you don’t want to eat salsa chicken every night? Pick something else you can eat with rice… Asian cuisine, Indian food, I mean… anything, you can eat rice with almost anything.
- Pick a different protein than the first recipe, so that you don’t get burned out on the same flavors and textures.
- Pick more recipes than you think you’ll use… it’s like when you put your music on shuffle and skip the first six songs, that happens with food too after a while, so build a fat stack of recipes to avoid that.
- Print them out and put them in a notebook or folder. I have a green binder in my kitchen, it’s basically my kitchen bible. If I put a recipe in there and it keeps coming back again and again, the sheet of paper moves from the front pocket to a laminated page. There are so many recipes on the interweb for free, try as many of them as you want. Allrecipes.com and Food Network dot com are both fantastic resources.
- Pick recipes that you can make healthier versions of. We have a recipe that’s going into our upcoming cookbook that has a sriracha cream sauce. The original recipe calls for full-on mayo, and it’s fantastic, but if you’re trying to keep your macros in mind, that’s not what you want. Our cookbook version has light mayo, but you could even use greek yogurt if you wanted… pick things that you can riff off of ingredient-wise, becuase it gives you the flexibility to fuck around with flavor profiles, and that my friend, is how you get really great at cooking.
Speaking of substitutions, we have a bazillion of them. We actually have a list up on our website if you want a quick and dirty cheat sheet til our cookbook drops.. check it out, meathead test kitchen dot com.
- Greek yogurt is an incredible substitution for a lot of high-fat dairy/pantry items… like mayo, sour cream, you can water it down in milk to make it thick like heavy cream if you need something rich for a sauce or something… They sell it in bigass 32oz containers, buy plain container of greek yogurt to use instead of what we just mentioned and it’ll be gone in no-time.
- You can make ranch dip with greek yogurt instead of sour cream and it has better macros so you can eat more food. You can put it in salad dressings, on potatoes, in casseroles, the possibilities are limitless.
- If you’re vegan or vegetarian, same rules apply, you can use vegan greek yogurt just like the dairy version, just make extra extra sure it’s not sweetened.
- Cauliflower is also an incredible substitution, if you like cauliflower. Not everyone loves it, and I get that cuz it can smell like farts, but it’s a fantastic lower carb option if you’re counting macros or eating for volume, you can do a ton of shit with it… you can make boneless wings out of it, pizza crust, whip it like mashed potatoes, put it in soup… rice it use it for fried rice… again, options: limitless.
- It takes some practice to figure out how much water you need to cook out of the cauliflower, if you’re doing steamer bags, there will be quite a bit of water in the bag, so dran it before you finish prepping your recipe.
- I got some pre-prepped cauliflower pizza crusts a few weeks ago and they’re a pretty great sub. Thin but not flimsy, and still kinda crunchy cuz I cooked it on my pizza stone.
- Cottage Cheese is a really great sub for creamy sauces as well, and is obv gonna be higher in protein. Want higher protein mac and cheese? Add some shredded cheese to a pan with some cottage cheese until warm and then emulsion blend it. Want higher protein cheese dip? Same concept.
- Tuna. Want to add more protein to damn near anything? Throw a packet or can of tuna in there. I add tuna to “quick” meals, mac and cheese, eggs in the morning.
ALTERNATE PREP METHODS
A lot of really delicious recipes require you to fry things. Fundamentally, we here at MTK have no problem with frying foods because they’re delicious and if you cook them at the right temp they don’t get greasy… for more on that look up the deep frying episode of Good Eats. But, again, if you’re being mindful of your intake, you may not want to fry all the foods. SO. What do you do?
- Baking, you can bake most things you can fry, with a few modifications, if you’re doing something with breading, you may need to go to a breadcrumb crust instead of a flour breading… things like that, nothing major, but something to keep in mind, otherwise your food will come out kinda funky.
- The air fryer. PRAISE BE. We fucking love air fryers. Don’t care what kind you get, get what you can afford, but make sure it’s big enough for you to fit a couple servings of food in.
- The air fryer is great when you want to have a “cheat meal” without having a cheat meal. You want chicken tendies? Air fry them. You’re adding zero extra calories while cooking them, just make sure you don’t fuck yourself over with a sauce that’s too calorically dense.
- Pressure cooking. We love the Instant Pot here at MTK, but appreciate all pressure cookers. They’re very quick and require little to no fat to cook most recipes if you’re just pressure cooking. Some recipes require you to sear things, if you’re going to do that, stick to a heart-healthier oil option like olive or avocado if you can, and don’t use a shitton of oil, you don’t need it, the meat will render it’s own fat out to help the searing process.
- The pressure cooker is great for batch cooking recipes becasue they come in 6 and 8 quart options… those are both pretty big and will supply a person for a couple days of meals.
- Crockpot. We also love the crock pot. I mainly love to prep shredded chicken in the crockpot because it stays juicer than using the instant pot. You can also do so many amazing soups by dumping your ingredients in and letting it cook through the day on low. One of the things I think I love the most about the crockpot is that I can set it and forget it until we’re ready to eat dinner. I use my crockpot at least once a week, year round