By Laura des Cognets, CPT
Meal Prepping may not be the easiest thing to add to your routine. It takes some time, some planning, some supplies and some dedication. It's not for everyone and it's not for every week, BUT if you can meal prep, you are more likely to see results on your fat loss journey. I am not a dietician, but I do know something about making meals for a busy family trying to eat well.
The concept is simple really: if you prep REAL food ahead of time, you are more likely to stick to the plan and eat what you've prepared when you're right in the middle of your hectic schedule. If you don't have that plan in place, hello take-out, fast food, gas station garbage (EEK!)
The fact is that eating whole foods is your best bet for fat loss no matter what sort of diet plan you're on (whole 30, keto, paleo, low carb, you name it)
Without doing some sort of meal prep, fining whole food options can be tricky. Plus, even if you are lucky enough to live in a city where there are great, healthy options for take-out or restaurant food, that can get expensive!
Start small but just doing meal prep for maybe 2 or 3 days per week. We think you'll realize that the effort is worth it! Here are a few of our tips. You can find many more out there on the world wide web, too!
1. MAKE A PLAN: What days do you need to prep for? Will you need breakfast, lunch and dinner? Do you have lunch or dinner plans for any days during the week? Figure out what you need and when you'll likely eat it.
2. MAKE SOME TIME: Just like you make time for the gym, make time to meal prep. Sundays are great for obvious reasons. But if Monday afternoon is good, go for that! Whatever works best for you.
3. GO SHOPPING: The grocery store on Sundays can be maddening. Is there a better day for this? Fridays maybe? Saturday morning after your workout? Do you use a meal delivery service or curbside pickup option? Buying bulk can be a huge money saver when you meal prep. If you get into it for long enough, you'll realize that there are some things you use every single week. Cashews, salsa, chicken, spices, eggs, spinach or kale, protein powders, etc. are some of our bulk buys.
4. MAKE THE MOST OF WHAT YOU'VE GOT: Try to plan it so that you don/t waist what you buy. I was opened our fridge and we had enough spinach for a soccer team. I just started searching online for recipes using spinach and went with it! Trying some ground turkey in a soup? Have it for lunch with veggies and rice, or make a little egg scramble for dinner.
5. MAKE DOUBLE AND FREEZE IT: This is just a no brainer. If you're buying the ingredients and spending the time making it, you might as well double the recipe. If you or your family won't be finishing it, freeze it for another time.
6. GET SOME STORAGE: Buy some containers that will work for you. If you are going to start taking your lunch to work, putting plastic wrap over your ceramic dinner plate from last night won't work.
7. THE ACTUAL PREP: When you get into the kitchen to start this prep madness, get the most out of your time. Chop up lots of veggies--for your soup, your stir fry, your roasted veggies, your crunchy snack--just do it all at once and pull them out as you need them. Same with your meats. Marinating on Sunday not only makes those proteins tastier, it makes for way less time spent when you go to cook.
8. USE YOUR KITCHEN TOOLS: Heard of an instant pot? No. Look it up. Now go buy one. Enough said.
9. ONE PAN MEALS: Also something you should just go and google. Prep the ingredients, throw on a sheet pan covered in foil and you've got a meal and barely any clean up!
10. DON'T OVERTHINK IT: It may seem overwhelming, but if you just start small, you'll have it nailed down soon! Don't worry TOO much about exactly what you're making. Just remember that pretty much anything you make at home is probably healthier than eating out. Also, do NOT think that you have to eat expensive, hard-to-find items. Like we said, try to do a few of your go-to meals that have been prepped ahead of time and you'll want to do it for every meal after that!