Nobody likes doing it, but we all know how beneficial meal prepping can be. Let’s take the stress and overwhelmingness off the table and get your nutrition back on track.
It’s no secret that there are some serious benefits to proactively prepping your meals each week. But if the process is too overwhelming, you are more likely to pass on the process altogether—there’s nothing exciting about spending hours in the kitchen slaving away to make each meal for the week ahead.
Our goal with this article is to not only provide you with some tips and tricks to make your life easier on meal prep day, but also to reiterate why it’s so important that you make it a part of your weekly routine. By giving you a few hacks to simplify the process, you’ll be able to reap the benefits and stick to your plan despite various temptations.
Start with Why
Simon Sinek wrote an incredible book entitled Start With Why, all about the importance of knowing why you should do something in the first place before you dive in head first. Before we get wrapped up in what to do and how to do it, let’s start by pinning down why exactly meal prepping is so important to your health and fitness goals.
First, it will free you from any temptations that might derail your progress. It’s a lot easier to say yes to a sweet treat or a lunch with coworkers if you don’t have a meal prepped and waiting for you. If you’re flying by the seat of your nutritional pants, you’re more likely to give in when the pint of ice cream calls your name. By taking some time to prep your meals for the week, you have a better chance of staying on track.
Secondly, it actually saves you time in the grand scheme of things. You may have to invest some time on the weekend to get it done, but throughout the course of the week, you will have more time for a morning workout or yoga session because you won’t need to spend time packing a lunch or prepping for dinner.
In creating more time for yourself, and silencing the temptations that often scream the loudest this time of the year, meal prepping and its importance can be summarized with one word: simplicity. If you’re looking at the big picture, envisioning the trim, healthy body that you desire, prepping your meals ahead of time makes things simpler in the long run!
Want a simpler way to live a healthy lifestyle? Meal prepping is at the center of that conversation.
What to Do Before Starting
Before sitting down to get all of your meals prepped, make sure you have a general game plan! Ask yourself the following questions to be sure your time spent meal prepping will be as efficient and effective as possible:
• What kind of diet or meal plan am I sticking to? Whether it’s the ketogenic diet, the zone diet, or a low-fat diet, you need to decide what kind of approach you’re taking. If you go to the grocery store to grab everything you need for a week’s worth of meals, but don’t have a plan going into it, it’s going to be quite overwhelming. Decide on a diet or meal regimen first, then go shopping.
• How many meals am I going to prepare for the week? Some people are just prepping their lunches so they can avoid the table of cookies or the coworker that always wants to go out for lunch. If your life tends to be on the busy side, maybe you want to prepare your dinners as well. Knowing how many meals you’re shooting for will help reserve the right amount of Tupperware and make your grocery shopping a little easier.
• When is the best time for me to meal prep? Many people prep their lunches on Sundays so they stay fresh, but maybe you’re more free to engage with the task on Saturday. Make the meal prep fit your schedule, not the other way around.
Once you figure out answers to the questions above, you’ll be in a much better place when it comes time to cook up your meals—being proactive in the beginning will save you a lot of stress in the end!
How-To Meal Prepping Hacks
Now that you know why you should be meal prepping, and what you should do before getting started, let’s look at some tips and tricks that will take the pressure off when it actually comes time to prep.
• Cook in Bulk. Whenever possible, cook what parts of your meals in large quantities. If chicken is your protein of choice for the week, either throw them in the oven all at once or toss them on the grill together. The same can be said for any vegetables or sides that you plan on creating for your meals. If you can make one huge serving and then ration it between your meals, make it happen.
• Pick quality foods that last. If you’re looking for a good source of fat, you’d be better off going with almonds instead of avocados. Avocados are delicious, but they’re no good a day or two after cutting into them. Almonds, however, will last all week and beyond. If two foods are comparable in nutrition, go with the one that will stay fresh longer.
• Give frozen food a try. No, not pizza logs and french fries. Walk past those freezers on your way to finding all of the frozen fruit and vegetables. Don’t think that fresh produce is the only kind that has any nutrients. Frozen broccoli or frozen strawberries can still pack a nutritional punch while lasting much longer than their fresh friends from the front of the store.
• Fall in love with your slow cooker. If there’s a way that you can make a healthy, nutrient-dense soup or stew that will last for a few days, take advantage! This will minimize your meal prepping time because you simply have to chop some things up, throw it in the crockpot and let it do its thing. You don’t have to slave away in the kitchen in order to make great meals for yourself.
Prepping your meals ahead of time may be one of the best things you can do as you pursue your health and fitness goals. It may take a few weeks for you to optimize the process, but once you get it down, it will make your approach to diet and nutrition so much simpler.
Good luck and let us know which tips served you best. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.