What’s the easiest way to stay on track with your diet, without spending a ton of time and money? Meal prep, people.
Preparation eliminates the possibility of veering off track from your diet, grabbing junk food on the go or giving in to your cravings at meetings during office hours.
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But what is meal prep, exactly? We have all heard the saying, “failing to plan is planning to fail,” and this is especially true when it comes to your meals. The best way to stay on track and achieve the goal body that you have always dreamed of is by making sure that you properly prepare your meals, a.k.a, meal prep in advance.
Meal prep isn’t the same for everyone. The best way to start prepping is to find one or two days a week where you can hash out a few hours to prepare your meals in advance.
I personally love Sundays for this reason. Meal prepping on a Sunday sets me up for the week, and I love starting out a fresh new week with a goal — the goal being, of course, to stay on track with my meals! If I make all my food on a Sunday, I know that I have no reason or excuse not to stick with my meal plan. It doesn’t have to be Sundays, of course, but any day or time that works for your schedule; it’s a personal preference.
The following are six pro tips to make your meal preps hassle free.
1. Bulk Is Best
The best way to get your foods cooked efficiently is to prepare them in bulk. Slow cookers, BBQs and baking in the oven are great options for bulk cooking proteins, while a rice cooker is always a solid investment to batch cook carbs. Pasta and potatoes (sweet, red, yellow, etc.) can be cooked in bulk as well in a pot on the stove.
2. Use Seasonings And Sauces
No one wants to eat the same meals repeatedly, making mealtimes monotonous, boring and bland. Don’t be afraid of seasonings and sauces, and don’t shy away from the salt, either. Sodium contains nutrients and electrolytes that help keep the muscles full, from cramping and keep proper water retention in the body. While we’re often told to watch our sodium intake, this really is only an issue if you’re eating pre-packaged foods or takeout and can’t control the amount of sodium in your meals. If you’re cooking yourself, it’s unlikely that a sprinkle of salt will exceed your daily limits.
Sugar, on the other hand, is a real no-no. Again, pre-made meals and takeout foods come heavy with sugars and salt, so avoid any pre-made sauces that contain extra sugars, and try to always make your own.
3. Get Creative
When most people hear the phrase “meal prep” they often think, “boring,” but this does not have to be the case. Like mentioned above, seasonings and sauces help but you can also get creative with ingredients. For example: For breakfast, most people think egg whites, oatmeal and berries; but while these ingredients are great, there’s so much more you can do. For example, have you ever thought of mixing the egg whites and oatmeal in a blender and making it into a batter? The batter can then be made into a pancake or even put in a waffle maker for a delicious waffle. You can then take the berries heat them up quickly and make them into a delicious compote.
Pancakes and waffles are also great to eat in a rush. Remember if you are thawing them or reheating them you don’t have to put them in the microwave — to keep them crispy, simply pop them in the toaster or toaster oven for a quick meal or breakfast in a pinch.
4. Invest In BPA-Free Containers
Good quality containers are worth the investment. Remember, you will be using these to re-heat your foods every day, so you don’t want your plastic containers melting into your food. BPA is the way to go for this as you don’t want any harmful chemicals getting into your foods and in turn your body. Its also good to buy containers that have separate compartments for your macronutrients and micronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats and vegetables).
5. The Freezer Is Your Friend
Some veggies and meat keep better than others in the fridge, but remember, you can freeze your meals and take them out when you need them, too. This especially helpful if you only meal prep once a week. It’s ok to freeze your meals straight in the container, freezer bags if their in bulk, or even vacuum-sealed to reheat later.
6. Buy A Big Water Jug
Often hunger is confused with dehydration. Too many times people feel that they are hungry when its thirst. Try and have a BPA-free water jug, bottle or container with you always and sip it throughout the day. This will help keep you hydrated, full and keep you from reaching for snacks that aren’t your prepped food.
Remember that there isn’t a wrong way or a right way to meal prep. It should be whatever works for you to help keep you on track. Experiment with prepping and find a way that it fits for you and your schedule. And remember for best results it can help to hire a coach to help you with your meal plan. This will insure that the food you are eating is individualized and planned strictly for your lifestyle, goals and exercise habits.