5 Awesome Meal Prepping Tips
How many of you have had every intention to meal prep on a Sunday night to then find yourself ordering take-out, or just saying, “eh, I’ll do it Monday, this week was tough and I need to rest.” Monday comes, and nothing. So you recommit for the upcoming Sunday. And the cycle continues…
I feel ya!
As you’re on your journey, you’re probably finding that it’s becoming easier to eat healthy foods. But cooking them is a whole different ball game. That’s the real challenge, right?
But with a few simple meal planning strategies – and the DECISION to stay disciplined and create a habit – you can get your nutritional game on point! Plus, you’ll feel like a hero during the week with all of the time you’re going to save yourself.
Here are five tips to help you get started.
1. Set Your Goals
Before you just start choosing recipes and going shopping you have to stop and consider your personal goals. Are you following a specific program that is suggesting a certain amount of macronutrients? Do you have a target calorie count? What foods are best for you? Are you needing to modify a particular plan to suit your specific needs? What do you need to eat more of? Less of?
Whew…. that was a lot of questions. But they’re important so you evaluate YOUR specific needs and you’re set-up for success.
Not everyone’s body responds to food the same way. So find out what foods are best for yours and meets your body’s fuel requirements that help hunger and cravings disappear. It can be an initial trial-and-error period, but when that happens it makes following a nutrition plan so much easier!
2. Make a Master Recipe Plan
Once you know what you need to eat, gather a master list of recipes that you love. That way when it’s time to cook, it’s easier and quicker instead of taking time to comb through every cookbook or recipe website.
To organize – use whatever system works best for you … Pinterest, meal planning apps, index cards in a recipe box, or printing them out and place in a binder.
I prefer to stick to similar recipes for a period of time (about 1-2 weeks). Those recipes also share similar ingredients that help make it easier to plan and keeps costs and food waste down. If you need more variety keep it to one week. It’s important to have variety in your plan so you don’t get bored – but everyone’s threshold to food boredom is different so listen to what your body (and mind) is saying within reason 😉
3. Shop Strategically
Make your grocery list based on the healthy recipes you’ve just pulled from Tip #2. Make a list of the foods you know are a part of your meal plan you’ve just created, and ensure you stock up on those. It’s important to have a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, along with a few different types of proteins, peanut butter, raw nuts, and lots of seasonings (the recipes you pulled already called for these right 😉 )
This way, no matter what meal you want to make you have the ingredients you need. But also know this … when you’re planning your meals for the week, it’s definitely okay to leave some flexibility. So if you go off plan slightly and you’ve stocked up on healthy staples, it’s okay to go off the menu and prepare something different.
And please don’t force yourself to eat something you HATE because everyone else is saying how healthy it is. If you really don’t like kale, guess what, you’re not going to grab it when you’re hungry. So don’t add it to the list.
4. Bang Out the Prep Work Like a Pro
When you return home from the store, don’t just stuff your groceries in the fridge. Do some time-saving prep work as soon as you get home. Prepping your food is a huge part of success.
Peel your carrots, slice your cucumbers, scrub your sweet potatoes, dice your onions and wash some fruits (that won’t spoil quickly with pre-wash). Not only does it become a one-and-done task rather than a daily chore, but it makes you more likely to grab those healthy foods when you’re hungry.
Also, cook some of your food for the week. I usually cook enough protein to get me through three days and some veggies/sweet potatoes to get me through 3-4 days. This way, when you’re running out the door, everything is made and you don’t have to think about it. Just grab and go!
5. Don’t Self-Sabotage
You’ve worked so hard upfront to save yourself time in the upcoming week. Easy right?!
Maybe not “easy,” but definitely easier. Because you still have to try to avoid the usual temptations and stumbling blocks. Whether at home or in your place of work. Where you DO have the most control is at home. So avoid the temptation altogether and don’t buy the junk food. Don’t have it staring at you when you’re stomach is growling! Here’s the deal, if you have ice cream in your freezer you may reach for it coming home from a stressful day at work. So just don’t have it in there. Schedule your cheat meals (if it’s according to your plan) and go OUT for ice cream. Believe me, I’ve thought I was strong at times, too!
All-in-all … as long as you plan ahead, shop for healthy foods, and keep some go-to recipes in your arsenal, healthy eating will become easier and can eventually become a wonderful habit. Not only will your body feel terrific, but your mind will feel awesome because you’re saving yourself time and avoiding hassle during the hectic workweek.