The Meal Planner Series: Creating Nutritional Meals for Beginners

This episode covers the best meal prepping strategies for people who are just getting into meal prep.

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I am joined by MetPro Director of Coaching, Megan Omli. We are going to be discussing meal planning 101. What does that mean? At MetPro, we know our clients like to get help with meal planning but also everyone has a different skillset in cooking and planning prior to joining us. We at MetPro also have our way of doing things. This episode is going to be geared toward a person who is just starting with MetPro. Maybe you've cooked all your life but never prepped a meal. This is a great place to start. Megan, thank you so much for joining me.

Thanks for having me, Crystal. I'm excited about this topic.

I am too. Through our conversations, I have learned a lot already. I am eager to share. I know that often our new clients want to jump right into cooking their favorite meals on MetPro. I was certainly that way but is that the best approach?

I say no. Everybody comes to us with a different skillset. Even if you're somebody who has meal prepped in the past or counted macros in the past, I still encourage everybody in their first few weeks on MetPro to keep it simple. There's a lot of learning that takes place in the first couple of weeks. In my book of meal prep or MetPro measuring, this phase one or this beginner phase is to get to know it before you get fancy. Those of you who are getting started will sympathize but there's a lot of stuff going on those first few weeks. If you get into that meal plan for the first time in your life, you’re like, “What is one serving a meal carb?”

You have no clue. You're like, “I've never seen something like that before.” You're learning the difference between 2/3 cup of brown rice, 1/3 cup of brown rice, 3 ounces of sweet potato and what that looks like not only on your plate but also how we measure and count things. You're also learning the difference between a meal carb and a vegetable carb as well, a snack carb or how we count our proteins or fats. There's a lot of learning in that respect that's taking place so that then you can do more of that in your head once you get those things under your belt.

Focus on all these individual components before you try putting them all together.

Figuring that out is enough. Saying, “I want to do this complex recipe,” probably is going to lead to frustration and going, “It's too hard. I can't do it.”

Those words are a burden. “I hate that.” I'm like, “No, you got to give it a chance.”

Keep it simple. I can't emphasize that enough.

When you're starting, are there some supplies that new clients should make sure they have on hand when they're getting started?

My favorite one is a must-have. I was talking to somebody and I said, “What about your food scale?” The person told me, “I don't have a food scale.” They have been in MetPro for eighteen days. I was like, “What? You haven’t started MetPro then. You must have a food scale. Don’t worry, no funny business. We’re not going to be like, ‘Take your food scale in the restaurant with you. Put it out on the table and measure your food.’”

Keep that food scale at home but keep it on the counter for your first couple of weeks. You're going to be using it a lot as you figure out what 2 ounces of steak look like. “I get 4 ounces of this meal.” What do 4 ounces look like? This is going to be, honestly, one of your biggest teachers on what your plate should look like. Often, we're told to eat less. That’s ingrained in us or, “I overeat.” Do you really or do you eat the wrong things and overeat? Part of this initial process is a little bit of learning but also unlearning what you've done for so long.

I always thought I was eating vegetables before but when I joined MetPro, I found out what eating vegetables are.

That's the thing. That food scale is important. It's my favorite. Also, simpler things. If you don't have storage containers already, like glass Pyrex or something like that to store your prep food in, you’re going to want quite a few of those. You're going to want to do more bulk prepping. You're not just going to cook by meal. I don't recommend that. You're going to want to have storage things to then grab from. That's secondary to that food scale but those two things are helpful.

Those are great. I love having a variety of different storage options because sometimes I want to cook a big thing, sometimes I want to cook a little thing or sometimes I want to divide all my lunches up and have them ready to go. You've got to have options.

You want to make a big bowl, throw a top on it and take it all with you in 1 or you need 3 or 4 different ones to take things to the office. Now that we’re all going back to the office and things like that, having that stuff be portable again is important.

It's great to have the options and maybe add a cooler in there too so you can store it.

Especially if you're somebody who travels for work or drives around in your car, you're going to need something like that. Even if you're shuttling kids here and there for the afternoon, having that option, especially in the summer months is important too.

If you're a brand-new client and just starting, what is the first thing that you should focus on when you're creating these meals?

It’s measuring. That's the first thing that you're figuring out. Here comes that food scale. I told you I'm big on the food scale. This is huge. This is going to help you take the show on the road and progress into that more intermediate phase of MetPro prep and cooking. Understand how much food should be on your plate during a given phase because that is going to adjust. That's part of MetPro. Our meal plans aren't like, “Here you go for 30 days.”

We are adjusting and saying, “There are 2 meal carbs at this meal but soon it might be 1.” What's that difference look like? I recommend, “Here's your plate. You've got your protein, carb, fat and veggie carb. Look at it.” I'm not saying be boring but in those first 2 or 3 weeks, keep things separate so that you can see the amount of, “This is 4 ounces. This is 2/3. This is my 4 ounces of carrots.” You starting to visualize what that looks like is important.

I’m years in but I still always measure my cheese because different kinds of cheese look different.

They weigh different.

I always get the shredded cheese but sometimes depending on what the store has, I get the finely shredded ones. Sometimes I get the large shredded ones. They look different with 1 ounce.

That food scale is that fail-safe of that measurement and making sure that you've got that. Crystal, you probably don't measure simple things anymore like maybe some of your proteins or veggies. You can go, “That looks right to me.” There will be times when you resort back to using that food scale more frequently but once you're out of that learning phase, it's not going to be like you're putting every single thing on that food scale.

I'm not as concerned about vegetables because I can eat a whole bunch of those. I know that. As long as I'm eating until I'm full, with vegetables, I feel like I'm in a good place.

That depends on the phase too. As long as our clients out there might be like, “I don't have any vegetables on my face.” That's because you're eating a lot of everything else.

What's an example of a simple meal on MetPro that you could start with?

I like doing chicken, brown rice and green beans and using my oil to cook or put on my green beans. You can put a little butter on your green beans or a little cheese on there as your fat. I like to keep it simple and look at it like that. You've got your chicken breast and then your brown rice, which maybe you decide to put a little garlic in or something like that to flavor it up, maybe use quinoa and brown rice and mix those. That's great too. When we say keep it simple, that doesn't mean I want you to have boiled chicken and green beans. I've had people misunderstand that before. I was like, “No, please.”

Make sure in those first 2 to 3 weeks to keep them separate on your plate. That's what I would say a meal looks like. If you want a steak, do steak asparagus and maybe some sweet potato. Keep things divided. Don't make soups, lasagnas or more complicated items that are going to require you to put everything in one and go, “How do I? What do I?” You still don't know. “Two servings is 6 ounces of sweet potato. I don't know what that looks like. It's all mashed together. Now what?”

If you're keeping those items simple and divided, are there ways to mix them up to be a little more appealing? We don't want to stick with that boiled chicken but what can I do to make it taste better?

Talking phase one of MetPro, there are a lot of seasonings or even sauces. Make sure you check with your coach on this first but a lot of seasonings are great. My friends always joke to me, “You have so many seasonings.” I'm like, “Spices are my best friend. Why add calories where you don't need to? It tastes just as good.” You can use things like coconut amino or those sorts of things to flavor things up. Do that. Lettuce is free food. I've learned that. It's the middle of summer maybe and you're like, “Here's my bed up lettuce. It's all free. I'm going to put my protein, brown rice and a few more veggies and mix it all.” That works great but start separately.

Do you have a favorite spice that you find yourself going back to over and over again or do you have too many that you can't decide?

I have many but I love rosemary. I put dill in a lot of things, believe it or not. I use chili powder. One of my favorite spice brands is Penzeys. If you haven't heard of it, it's amazing. I order our spices from there. They're super flavorful and always delicious. I'll put garlic powder on things. With the brown rice, sometimes I'm like, “That was boring.” I’ll mix in that and then I’m like, “That works.” Keep them on hand. They come in super handy.

My favorite is the Everything but the Bagel seasoning. I use that a lot.

What do you put with it on?

Almost everything. If I have brussels sprouts and I'm tired of looking at them, I'll put a little sprinkle of cheese and then the Everything but the Bagel seasoning on. It changes its texture and flavor of it.

How about the invention of the air fryer?

I throw everything in there.

Us too. We didn't even get one until fall 2021. I don't want another appliance.

It's so great for what you're talking about keeping things separate too. You can make a big batch of let's say salmon in the air fryer. You use that with the rice that you might microwave. It’s super easy to do.

Keep in mind too that when you're starting, some helpful things can be prep more than you need for that meal. You're packaging it up and then dividing out what you need for say lunch. That's a rule in our house. I've cooked and I looked at my husband. I'm like, “Don't you eat that last portion. That is mine for lunch.” Whatever dinner we have the night before, it’s always equal to Megan's lunch the next day. It’s a known rule. Do that because it's going to help you take some of that. Work out of it. Prep three lunches in a row of the same thing. Making sure you're prepping by macro but in bulk is important.

Those are all wonderful tips. Megan, thank you so much for your time. Can you give people your email address to reach out to you if they have any questions?


Readers, that is all for this episode. You can find all the episodes anywhere you get shows or you can go to Please be sure to follow the show and rate and review because that lets other people know what they can expect from the show. You can also learn more about MetPro at I will be back next episode. Until then. Remember, consistency is key.

Done with Dieting with MetPro

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