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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Meal Prepping 101 with Natalie Durham

Meal Prepping 101

 Natalie Durham

Hi, my name is Natalie Durham and today I am going to be sharing with you the basics, benefits and overall 101 of meal prepping for beginners. But first, I want to share a little more about my fitness and health journey within the past year.

After spending the last 15 years of my life active and athletic, I spent a semester studying and traveling abroad. I found myself enjoying mass quantities of beer, delicious food and not working out the way I use to (AKA… I was packing on the pounds to say the least). After about three months of being home, I looked in the mirror and realized I had gained weight. Shocked and disappointed with myself, I decided enough was enough. I began to workout religiously and cleaned up my diet. I started my journey on May 2013. A year later, I am down 35 pounds and a little over 11% body fat. Today, I can look in the mirror and smile right back at myself. However, most of that progress was made during Nov 2013-May 2014, when I started properly meal prepping all of my meals. 

Before getting started, I want to stress that not only is everyone’s body different but also our LIFESTYLES!  Everything that I will be sharing today is from my own personal experiences. Taking the time to learn what has/has not worked for my own body and lifestyle. I STRONGLY encourage you to do the research, and even more importantly, listen to how your mind and body feel/respond.

What exactly is meal prepping?

Meal prepping is cooking, making and storing a few days or a full week worth of food. Having all your tasty meals and snacks ready to eat or take on the go when needed!

Why should I meal prep?

Let’s be honest here. When we are hungry… WE ARE HUNGRY! We want food right then and there, in front of our faces, in our mouths and are willing to do almost anything to make that happen as quickly as possible. Not ONLY does meal prepping make that happen for us but it stops us from resorting to food that will have negative effects on our progress such as fast foods, the vending machines in the office or not eating anything at all! Just remember…

How do I meal prep?

I like to store my food in reusable microwavable safe Tupperware that can be found at a local grocery store, Wal-Mart and/or Target or Ziploc plastic bags I can just toss after using. On Sundays, I plan out my meals for the week (Sunday to Sunday), write my grocery list, go shopping, cook, and then store all of my meals.  I buy most of my produce from Sprouts (fresh, organic and reasonable prices). My proteins (meats) I buy from my local grocery store, which carries an all natural selection brand.

I prepare every meal and snack for the day except for breakfast. Personally, I like having fresh oatmeal, protein pancakes or egg white omelets in the morning, so I am willing to wake up early enough to have time to cook it before I run out the house.

I eat anywhere from 5-7 (depending on how hungry I might be) “meals” a day every 2-3hrs. I say “meals” because 3-4 of those are actually a small snack. Typically, each container will have 3-4 oz. of protein, 1-3 cups of veggies and one serving of a healthy carb.

Tweaking your meal prep every few weeks is important when getting started. Start your meal prep and within the next two weeks pay close attention to how your body responds. You may need to add more protein, carbs, and veggies or vice versa, take some out.

Sample meal prep layout

Meal 1

4 egg whites with 1 cup of veggies
½ cup of oats (measured dry)

Meal 2

1 cup Greek yogurt w/ 1 scoop protein

Meal 3

4 oz. protein (chicken)
3 cups veggies
1 serving carb (sweet potato)

Meal 4

Same as above or:
8-12almonds, or1 green apple, or a protein shake, or 1 of Ashley’s fresh juice recipes, etc.

Meal 5

4 oz. protein (salmon)
1-3cups veggies

Grocery List

These are a list of foods that I rotate in and out of my meals all the time. In order to keep myself successful with meal prepping, I have to make sure I don’t get bored with my food. Keeping my taste buds guessing by constantly switching up my meals helps me not to “cheat”. 


·      Chicken breasts
·      97% lean ground turkey
·      Egg whites
·      Wild caught salmon
·      Tilapia
·      Tuna
·      Protein powder
·      Almonds
·      Greek Yogurt

(I personally only eat red meats on very rare occasions)


·      Spinach
·      Broccoli
·      Asparagus
·      Brussels sprouts
·      Baby bell peppers
·      Green beans
·      Mushrooms


·      Sweet potatoes
·      Quinoa
·      Brown Rice
·      Oatmeal


·      Grapefruit
·      Berries
·      Green apples

My Secret Weapons

For every meal I prep, I can guarantee that I will be using one or more of the following items that make prepping easier and/or tastier for myself without adding the extra calories. 

·      Cinnamon (I put it on EVERYTHING… well almost)
·      Mrs. Dash seasoning (No salt!)
·      Sweet Drops (Stevia)
·      Vanilla Extract
·      Walden Farms BBQ sauce and pancake syrup (No sugar AND zero calories)
·      Trader Joes Olive and Coconut Oil Spray (Zero calories)

Helpful Hands

Knowing where to start and staying on track can be tricky.  Thank goodness there is so much out there to help us. I suggest taking the time to consult with a professional or going to a website that can help you work out exactly how many calories you should be consuming a day for your body type.  One of my favorite apps and websites that can honestly do it all is: I use it all the time to see how many calories a certain food contains, track my progress, my food diary and keep myself motivated. Check it out! 

Stay Motivated!

In my fitness and health journey, diet is HANDS DOWN the hardest part for me.  When craving starts getting the best of me I chew gum, drink water or find a clean and yummy recipe I can make instead.  At the end of the day, there are no excuses.  
I love the quote, “ You can have results, or you can have excuses. Not both.”  When it gets hard, remember why you started. I think back at how I felt when I looked at myself in the mirror and tell myself I never want to feel like that ever again.  30 minutes of satisfaction from a piece of dessert or junk food is not worth the set back from having the dream body you have desired your whole life.  These are things I say to myself and it works. Do I cave sometimes? YES! But… life is all about balance and happiness. Eat your prepped meals and every once in a while, treat yourself to something you deserve.

Lastly, always be proud of your journey in life. Regardless of what your goals are, do not let anyone steer you away from accomplishing them. Find something you are passionate about and RUN with it! At the end of the day, most people will still be talking about what they are going to do while you are out there making it happen.
We all deserve happiness and well being!

You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @natalieedurhamm. I hope to chat with you all again!