Simple Meal Planning Guide

Meal Planning or Meal Prep doesn't have to be overly complicated.  The easiest way I have found to organize my personal meal planning is by finding things that I love and making them more simple.

My wife and I really like chicken fried rice.  Usually we get a box from Walmart or a bag from Costco.  However, if you read the ingredients there are way too many and half you can't even pronounce. I decided to make my own healthier version.

chicken fried rice meal prep

Basically, I broke it down into fewer ingredients:

Chicken Fried Rice

  • Rice
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Carrots

Sounds simple, right? Well here's what the package says that we used to get:

Ingredients: Cooked White Rice (Water, Enriched White Rice [Water, White Rice, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Folic Acid], White Rice), Char Broiled Chicken Breast Meat, Water, Corn Oil, Brown Sugar, Salt, Soy Sauce [Water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt], Sodium Phosphate, Dried Chicken Stock [Chicken Stock, Salt], Carrageenan), Carrots, Peas, Soy Sauce (Water, Wheat Soybeans, Salt), Scrambled Egg Product (Whole Eggs, Non Fat Milk, Soybean Oil, Modified Cornstarch, Salt, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid), contains 2% or less of: Onions, Liquid Margarine (Soybean Oil, Water, Salt, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Mono- & Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Sodium Benzoate, Natural and/or Artificial Flavor, Beta Carotene [color], Vitamin A Palmitate), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Salt, Modified Cornstarch, Dehydrated Garlic, Sesame Oil, Disodium Inosinate & Guanylate. Contains: Eggs, Milk, Soybean, Wheat.

Count those, over 22 different ingredients (not including the sub-ingredients listed within some like the soy sauce). Is all of that really necessary? No. Here's how the nutrition stacks up:

Homemade Version

(250 cal version in parenthesis)

Calories: 473 (250)

Fat: 9.5g (5g)

Carbs: 40g (21g)

Protein: 60g (32g)

Store Version

Calories: 250

Fat: 4.5g

Carbs: 42g

Protein: 11g

So without going into so much detail, you can see that the homemade version with the same amount of calories has about half the carbs and 3 times the protein with roughly similar amounts of fat. When you look a cost you'll pay approximately $2 per serving for the store version when you pay about $1.20-$1.70 depending on prices and your own custom flavors.

How easy is it to make?

  • Cook brown rice in a rice cooker.
  • Grill or bake chicken, chop when done.
  • Chop carrots and saute in a pan.
  • Add eggs to carrots and scramble.
  • Add cooked rice and cooked chicken.
  • Add flavor if desired, mix well. Enjoy.

General Principles I Use to Meal Prep

Make sure each meal contains 30-40g of protein. Great protein sources are fish, beef, pork, chicken, and other lean meats.

Each meal should have some fat, but not too much. I aim for about 15-20% of my daily fat intake. Sources include olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, etc.

Use complex carbs, around 30-50g. Sources included whole grains and pastas, vegetables, and fruits.

Pick a meal you love, and then calculate the calories. Adjust the ingredients in the meal until it matches your calorie and macro-nutrient needs.

Pick 1-2 days each week when you can spend 1-3 hours doing some simple cooking. Use containers like Isolator Fitness, Six Pack, or Rubbermaid to divide meals.

Use a food scale to measure out ingredients. This will help understand really how much you're consuming rather than guessing.