11 Tips to Help With Your Meal Prep
Think of your health as an investment, not an expense. This is a perfect way to sum up meal prepping. While yes it does take some time out of one of your days of the week, but the payoff you are getting by having a set amount of meals prepared for you to not have to think about making is key to your weight loss or gain journey. Meal prep is a journey and a skill but these tips you can turn it into a more enjoyable experience that you look forward to that aids your goals not hinders them.
What is meal prep?
Let's be honest some of us beginners are new to this space and have no idea what meal prepping is. Well it is about exactly as it sounds. It is where you prepare your meals ahead of time to help take the decision away when on the go for lunch or dinners. When you are focusing on losing weight or gain weight it is nice to be able to take out the decision of food and focus on your lifts, runs, or steps and then be able to just grab your container and eat. But, why should you meal prep? You should meal prep because it allows you to have pre-planned meals and a certain pre-decided macro ratio to aid in your journey. The speed and easy alone of having meals to go is perfect. But, everyone says meal prep is so hard to do, it takes so much time, or I do not have the patience for it. Well here I have provided 11 tips to help you with your next or first meal prep journey.
1. Do your shopping on another day
Why would anyone want to shop on a different day from when they meal prep. One simple answer to ease your way into meal prepping and not overload one day. When you try to do all your meal prep and shopping in one day it feels like you lose an entire day of your weekend. So, I find it vital to just shop on one day and then to meal prep the next day as I am only doing either activity for at most two hours I can spare the time on each day. This time saving hack will allow you to enjoy each step more as you won't feel pressured to finish both task right away.
2. Plan our your meals before you go shopping
Well now doesn't this step seems contradictory to what I just said? Nope! The benefit of planning your meals out ahead of time means when you go in to do your shopping you have already made a list of the items you need. Now this can obviously change due to deals or items being out of stock at a specific store but, you will not go into the store with no idea onto what you plan to eat for the week. This is so crucial and an under rated idea by taking the little time out of your week at night when you're not busy and do some research on healthy meals you want to prep next week and write them down. Now come the weekend or shopping day you know exactly what you need to meal prep and it makes shopping a breeze.
3. Do not shop hungry
Let's be honest we have all been a victim to hungry shopping. When your goal is to lose weight hungry shopping is the number 1 enemy to your fat loss goals. Whether you need to have a little caffeine to suppress your hunger or have a full meal before you go shopping. If at all possible try to get some food in your system before you head out so your not buying up the entire chip and snack food aisle killing your goals you have in place.
4. Mix up the ingredients weekly
One way to keep the meal prepping feeling fresh and new is to mix up the ingredient you eat each week. Lets say one week you are having ground bison and chicken breast. Then the next week switch it up and have some fish and maybe ground turkey. By switching up the protein you use there are thousands of combination of ingredients and meals you could make. Keeping things fresh is one way to never burn out on your meal prepping. Some example of meals I like to prep are:
Chicken thighs with mixed vegetables
Ground bison and rice
Protein pasta with homemade tomato sauce and grilled chicken breast
Flank Steak with tomato salad
5. Use up what you have in the pantry
Always, Always, Always first thing you should do when meal prepping is shop your pantry. Look to see what you have and plan your meals around this. Maybe you have some leftover sweet potatoes and some rice, this week you use these as your carb sources for the week and when you look in your fridge, freezer and pantry next week you have vegetables and some tomato sauce to use. Looking in you house first might just spark for meal ideas then you think you have. This will not only save you money but time by giving you ingredients you already want to use so narrowing down what recipes you look into.
6. Seasoning is key
Having a well stocked spice cabinet is the perfect way to make your meals taste fresh and different each and every week. There is an endless amount of combinations of spices you can use to leave your food tasting different all the time. One way to stay ahead of the game is to get pre-made seasoning blends from the store, I just urge caution on these as some may contain sugar which can increase your calories without you even knowing it. Here are a few of my favorite seasonings to stock up in your pantry:
Lawry's seasoning salt
Herbs (Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Parsley)
Onion and garlic powder
7. Utilize the crockpot and slow cookers
Two of the most underrated items in your kitchen for meal prep, the crockpot and slow cooker. You can utilize these when you get cheaper cuts of meat and let them slow cook all day while you are running errands and at the end of the day you end up with these tender pieces of meat to enjoy for your meal prep. Highly recommend these if you are busy most weekends and need something to just set and cook while you accomplish other task.
8. Get the best quality container you can
If you are going to be meal prepping consistently, then it will be worth it to get higher quality containers. When you are just starting out, it will be okay to use the typical plastic black container you see everywhere when people meal prep. But, if you are going to be working on this long term, I suggest investing in high quality glass containers, or thick plastic containers that won't break on you after a couple of uses and will be safe to reheat in the microwave. One extra tip for you when reheating your food, wet a paper towel and wring it out well, then place it over your food, especially rice, chicken or pasta, this will allow the food to retain more moisture and be as if you just cooked it fresh.
9. Keep it simple
You do not always have to go over board with the prepping and make these elaborate dishes. Sometimes the most simple dishes taste the best and take the least amount of time to make. When we are able to keep the meal prepping to a minimum, we are going to be more encouraged to stay on track as it will not take as much out of us and feel like a chore. So keep it simple stupid.
10. Shop in season items and freeze them
Now this is one of those tips that will really help both your wallet and your meal prep. In season foods are always cheaper than when they are out of season, so when your favorite vegetables and fruits come around to being in season stock up on them and freeze them properly. This will allow for you to have the freshest of that particular food in your fridge or freezer more often than not. So, stock up on those favorites of yours' when they are in season and if you do not know their season a little research never hurts.
11. Make it enjoyable
Honestly the most important tip I can give you is to just enjoy making the food. Find your' own personal love in the process of making your delicious food and you will want to meal prep each and every week. Blast music or dance while putting the chicken in the oven, just enough life while you are cooking. Then next thing you know you are waiting for next week to come around when you can meal prep again.
In conclusion, there are so many benefits to meal prepping: save money, the ease of having meals ready, and keeping you on track with your health goals. Hopefully these tips and tricks have helped you gain a better attitude towards meal prepping and you knock it out of the park with your next fitness goal you set for yourself. Follow my journey on both Youtube and Instagram for up to date progress and what I am doing at: Beginner to Ironman.