We already know that you need to pair regular exercise with healthy eating habits to lose weight and live a fit and healthy lifestyle. In fact, what you do in the kitchen is even more important than what happens in the gym. Weight loss is 75% diet and 25% exercise. This means that your road to success is paved with healthy eating habits.
Meal prep is a big part of this equation. Poor eating choices are often made due to lack of time and resources, meaning if you’re in a hurry and don’t have healthy foods or snacks on hand, you’ll grab for whatever you can find. And those foods are generally not very beneficial to you. By participating in regular meal prep practices, you’re setting yourself up for success. But if you’re not familiar with meal prep or need some tips on how to get started, read on!
Yes, meal prep takes time. If it was super simple and required no forethought, everyone would do it. You need to not only plan ahead for your meals, but carve out time in your day to actually prepare them. A lot of people enjoy using Sundays as their meal prep day. It’s the perfect time to cook up some fresh meals and package them for the week.
If this sounds daunting to you, it doesn’t have to be! Consider this your time to create a healthier lifestyle for yourself. Turn up the music, open a window, lay out all of your materials and dedicate an hour or two to preparing your favorite meals. And remember, though it may take some additional time now, it’s actually going to save you a ton of time later! Your meals with be cooked and ready to go during the week.
If you’ve never done meal prep before or are just starting out on a new diet, start small. Sit down and come up with ideas for each meal of the day. If you’re usually on the go for breakfast, perhaps a protein shake is enough. Do you need bananas for your shake? Perfect, buy those and consider that your breakfast for the week. Dinner recipes should really be where you spend most of your planning time, for a couple of reasons. One, it is often your biggest meal of the day and may require more preparation and planning than others. You’ll want to make it a balanced meal, containing a protein, carb, vegetable, and some healthy fat. The other important thing about planning healthy dinners is that they make awesome healthy lunches for the next day!
Buy Groceries Wisely
A great way to purchase groceries for meal prep is to do with similar recipes in mind. This means that you can choose several recipes that use the same ingredients. If you’re making a casserole that requires whole wheat pasta, perhaps add a soup to your meal prep list that also calls for whole wheat pasta. If you’re baking sweet potatoes, find a recipe that uses diced sweet potatoes. Buying lemon to squeeze on your fish? What can you do with the lemon peel? This will not only save you time in the kitchen, because you’ll be preparing fewer ingredients, but it will also save you money! Groceries can get expensive, but when you use the same ingredients for multiple meals, you’re really getting the most bang for your buck.
A big part of meal prep success is organization. And what better way to stay organized than buying specific containers for your foods? You can do this in a variety of ways and really get creative with it. One idea is to purchase color-coded containers. Make your breakfast in a red container, lunch in green, and dinner in blue. Or buy a label maker and label each container with the days of the week. You can even designate certain shelves in your refrigerator for your meals and organize them by day.
Whatever it takes to make the process easier and more convenient for you will only aid in your success. Meal prep takes the guesswork out of eating. You know when you open your refrigerator or lunchbox that you’ll have a healthy, portioned meal waiting for you. This means avoiding tempting snacks or hitting that fast food joint on the corner when you start feeling hunger pains but have no healthy food on-hand.
Make Portions a Priority
Unfortunately, many people have no idea of what a real portion size looks like. Portion sizes in America are unruly! What we should really be eating and what we actually eat is grossly disproportionate. But meal prep can help with this.
When you’re preparing your meals, measure out each serving according to the right portion size. You should be consuming a small portion of carbs, vegetables, and protein at certain meals. It’s difficult to judge how much is too much without whipping out your measuring cups, which isn’t exactly practical when you’re eating out. Restaurants have some of the largest portions around! When preparing your meals ahead of time, you’re in complete control of your portions. You can measure each one out appropriately. And you’ll be surprised to discover that once you consume the recommended amount of food, even though it may look tiny compared to what you’re used to, you’ll actually feel completely satisfied. You’ll also avoid feelings of discomfort, indigestion, or bloating later on.
Have Fun With It
The most important part of meal prep is to not view it as a chore, but instead as something fun and an investment for your health and your future. Look at it as an opportunity to try new and exciting foods and recipes that you’ve been dying to try. You’ll likely save money by planning your meals ahead of time and avoiding eating out or buying snacks and coffee each morning. When you have an organized plan and follow through with it, you’ll also benefit from feelings of accomplishment and motivation. Who knew meal prep had so many benefits?
Article Submitted By Community Writer