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Frequently Asked Questions About Meal Prep And Workweek Lunches

Have meal prep questions? I got the answers.

I talk to hundreds of my Instagram followers on a weekly basis, and the same questions keep coming up. So I figured, why not create a little cheat sheet where the answers are all in one place?

Let’s get to it.

How long does the food last?

My rule of thumb is up to four days in an airtight container in the fridge. Some food can last a bit longer, some should be eaten within three days.

How do you store your meal prepped food?

I use plastic containers to store my cooked food. I always let meals cool down 30-40 mins before sealing in an airtight container and storing in the fridge.

Another good tip: store food as individual meals if you’re not doing a buffet meal prep. That way you’re likely to stick to even portions!

What’s a buffet meal prep?

A buffet meal prep is when you batch cook individual ingredients and then create meals during the week as you go INSTEAD of prepping whole put together meals.

I don’t like buffet meal preps because you still have to do the extra step of putting the meal together (and dirtying more dishes, ugh).

Here’s an example of a buffet meal prep I did a few months ago.

What containers do you use?

I use plastic containers that are BPA free, dishwasher friendly and microwave safe for my workweek lunches. Right now, my go to brand is Lock and Lock.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Meal Prep Containers.

Why do you use plastic containers?

I use plastic containers because I’m not about that life of carrying heavy glass ones around. I like that plastic containers are also reusable and environmentally friendly!

While there are studies that indicate plastic is unsafe, I’m not worried. If you read closely, you’ll learn that it would take A LOT of exposure to harmful chemicals to do any damage to your body — more than we get from using BPA free containers weekly.

How do you find the motivation to meal prep every week?

I don’t have to worry about motivation because cooking is a habit. I do it automatically every week. This is why I started this blog, because that’s what I want to happen to you too!

The real “motivation” comes from how easy it is to be healthy now that I’ve made this a habit. It helps me save money, stay lean and feel energetic. I want to keep that up! So I keep going.

How do you meal plan?

I meal plan around my social and work schedule so I don’t make too much food. I use simple recipes (like the ones that I have on this blog here) and stick to ingredients that I love.

To actually make the plan, I use a Google Doc spreadsheet like the one below. Click here to sign up to download it so you can try it too!

Meal planning is like a puzzle. Read my full step by step breakdown on it here.

Do you count calories?

Nope! I personally believe counting calories is more trouble than it’s worth in the long term. If you’re just starting out with healthy eating, counting calories can be helpful. I see them like training wheels. After a while, you will be able to know automatically if something is healthy or not.

Instead of counting calories, I use the 80/20 approach to my diet. That means 80% of my week is dedicated to healthy whole foods, and 20% is dedicated to whatever I feel like eating. To me, this is the most realistic approach to health out there that you can do forever, while calorie counting is just tedious and not sustainable.

Read my full post about the 80/20 approach here. 

How do you figure out portion sizes?

Finding my perfect portion size took some trial and error. I realized that restaurant portion sizes were way too big for someone my size who also sits for 10-15 hours a day. (I know)

The basic portion sizes that we want to aim for are this: 4 oz of protein, 1/2 cup of grains and 2 cups of veggies per meal.

I use containers that hold 3 cups of food. My containers always contain around 2 cups of veggies, 1/2 cup of protein and 1/2 cup of grains — and that’s enough for ME, a 5’3” woman. But that wouldn’t be enough for a 6’2” man.

I know it’s confusing and kind of vague, but your meals should always contain veggies/fruit, protein and carbs. There should always be more veggies on your plate than anything else.

TL/DR: Experiment!

What are overnight oats and how do you make them?

Overnight oats are like regular oatmeal, but instead of cooking them, you let them soak in milk or water overnight in the fridge. This allows the oats to “cook” (they absorb all the water), allowing you to eat them ASAP in the morning.

They’re the fastest breakfast out there and I swear by them!

Here’s the master recipe for overnight oats. Try it!

overnight oats in meal prep containers

Do you freeze meals?

I don’t freeze meals personally because the idea of reheating a frozen meal doesn’t sit well with me. BUT I would totally freeze sauces, chilis and soups as they tend to thaw and reheat well.

Want to test it? I say go for it. What’s the worst that can happen?

How do you make chicken not dry and gross?

Chicken is one of those basic foods (and meal prep staples) that’s easy to screw up and hard to nail in the beginning. It took me a few years to perfect my method.

I would check out this amazing guide to cooking perfect chicken every time from The Kitchn. This helped me a lot in my chicken cooking journey!

How do you reheat workweek lunches without ruining them?

I use the microwave at the office to reheat my meal prepped food and sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not as great (but I still eat it anyway!)

At home, I reheat meals in the oven or on the stove because we don’t have a microwave. My rule of thumb: reheat the food where you cooked it!

Related: How To Reheat Leftovers So They Don’t Taste Like Crap via Greatist (written by me!)

How do you keep avocados from going bad?

There are MANY methods for this, but since I’m not picky I just slice the brown layer off the top of my leftover avocados, which I keep in the fridge.

The best way, though, is to squeeze lemon or lime juice on top of them to preserve their lovely green freshness and wrapping them in saran wrap/placing them in a ziploc bag in the fridge.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a full-time freelance digital marketer. I specialize in working with companies who have Millennial markets and I’ve been doing that for a year. I love it! As of October 2017, I’m picking up my life and moving to Colorado to be in the mountains so I can run Workweek Lunch, do freelance marketing and snowboard as much as possible.

Do you have any more questions? Reach out to me directly: talia@workweeklunch.com. Happy to hear from you!

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