Meal prep has become increasingly popular as people try to maintain their fitness goals and weight management. The idea behind meal prep is that it allows you to prepare your meals in advance, for the entire week, allowing you to further focus on both portion control and having healthy alternatives readily available to you that you don’t have to get from an office vending machine or snack bar. It’s your one stop shop for healthy eating and living straight from your freezer or fridge, right to your lunch pail. Not only does meal prep offer you the opportunity to create and prepare healthy meals, but your food prep options don’t end there, you can even prep smoothies or deliciously fruitful infused waters to your liking that further help you achieve your goals. If you have ever tried to meal prep before, you may have found it difficult to do and may have even tried to seek the help of highly expensive meal prep services that have a lot of sodium in their products. We have found the best tips and tricks to make your meal prep efforts much easier and more manageable for you.
According to fitmencook.com, “Hacking Meal Prep: Tips, Tricks and Recipes,” if you are new to the meal prep trend, it’s a great idea to begin prepping your meals on Sunday, leaving you set for the week, and starting with two meals and one snack is a great way to help you get started. If you are really new, the article further suggests including “trigger meal prep,” which means that you should at least include an “unhealthy meal” that you are more prone to eating and craving while starting off on your new journey, while using portion control. This way, having an “in moderation” already prepared meal that deviates from your plan can help you stick to your new regimen while still exercising portion control, just to help you get started. They also suggest that when choosing containers, glass containers are best. They are microwave safe and more durable. However, that could create a problem when it comes to freezing and later placing it in the microwave, so the site further suggests letting your meals defrost overnight in the fridge for convenience and safety. They also suggest that if you use plastic containers, to make sure that they are BPA free, and for meals that you plan on freezing, make sure that your containers are airtight to prevent freezer burn.
Another tip for beginners is to make sure to include fruit and veggie infused water. Increasing your water intake can further help you meet your fitness goals while sticking to your plan, because if you take in the suggested amount of water daily, chances are you will feel fuller, longer, all the while detoxifying your body from unwanted and harmful toxins. Mason jars are a great way to start infusing water. You can find helpful recipes abundantly online. The only downside to infusing water is that it must sit for a minimum of 24 before it’s infused and flavorful enough to drink. Also, you should never make more than four days’ worth at a time, due to the fact that you don’t want the fruit or veggies that are infusing your water to spoil. The bright side is that you can make as much as you want and desire for a refreshing beverage to cap off your meal. Of course, you want to apply the same practices and basic guidelines for smoothie prep, however the only difference is, further according to fitmencook.com, is that for smoothies, you can blend your smoothies in one day, throw them in the freezer to make “smoothie ice cubes,” and each morning, place them in a mason jar, seal it, throw it in your bag to go and Boom! You can have yourself a delicious frozen smoothie whenever you like.
Sure, meal prep sounds like it can be challenging. The thought of cooking a week’s worth of food all in one day can sound unpleasant. But fitmencook.com offers some helpful tips for that, too. Meal prep can be easy and enjoyable. Usually, when we cook dinner, we cook more than one thing all at once, just like we would if we were preparing a feast on Thanksgiving. The steps you would take to pull off a large meal for a large family, you would use to further prepare you meals for an entire week. It takes a lot of motivation, determination and definitely, multitasking. On the bright side, if you can commit, you only have to cook once a week, which in turn, can save you a lot of extra time during the rest of your week that could be better spent at the gym or walking. It can also save you money by helping you stay on budget and avoid fast food. When it comes to which types of food would be best served to fill up dishes in your meal plan, the site further suggests using hearty veggies like potatoes that you can roast in the oven. Heavier vegetables can also help you feel fuller longer, giving you the best bang for your efforts. For an even tastier meal, as you stick to multitasking, another great idea that the site offers is to cook your protein and your veggies at the same time. This is definitely not a bad idea because even your chicken, fish or whichever source of protein you choose can even soak up some of the flavors from your seasoned, hearty and starchy veggies, making it far tastier, and you can kill two birds with one stone, figuratively speaking. (1)
When it comes to selecting the right protein to complete your meals, although fish is probably the best, healthiest choice, chicken is typically the most popular choice. It’s cheap, it’s healthy and it’s versatile. One of the best pieces of advice that fitmencook.com offers is that if chicken is your choice, you should always cook three or more different styles of seasoned chicken. This can easily be done all in one shot with the use of tin foil to help you divide your differently styled seasoned chicken into separate columns. One of the biggest challenges meal preppers face during their journey, is getting bored with their meals. This means you’ll need to resist the temptation to take the easy route and prep the same breakfast, lunch and dinner for yourself, for the entire week. That would almost guarantee that you would deviate completely from your diet and choose unhealthy alternatives that are nearest in reach. Making sure that you invent some sort of ingenuity in how you choose to cook and season all of your meals to offer versatility is going to be a key to success. You can make chicken kabobs, fiesta seasoned chicken, garlic chicken, parmesan chicken, whatever your choices, make sure you always, absolutely always, never have the same meal, two days in a row, in any given week.
Eatthis.com, in their article “Meal Prep Sunday: 25 Tips to Cook Once, Eat For A Week,” they offer just that, 25 wonderful tips to help you make the most out of your meal prepping and to help you stick to it! The biggest tip they offer is the suggestion to always plan ahead, which is great advice. Checking your calendar to see what kind of schedule you have that week can further help you dictate which types of meals you should make. If you are an “emotional eater,” for you, this simple step can be huge. If you see that you are about to embark on a really stressful week, or Wednesday is going to be emotionally draining, it might be a good idea to cook “heavier” foods that help support your appetite and need for food. Also, this simple step, if you are or aren’t an emotional eater, can also help you ease through the week. Maybe, on Tuesday, you have an 18 hour work day, so, you may want to prepare some “green smoothies” that will help promote energy for that day, or Wednesday is “running day,” and for that day, you may want to make sure that you prepare extra fruit infused water. Whatever the case may be, always going over your calendar and planning ahead can also be essential to meal prepping.
Another great tip for meal prep is to get out your old crockpot, or slow cooker! Once thought only useful for family reunions and large chili cook-off type gatherings, this handy appliance can help you prepare several elements of your meal at once using multiple appliances, or it can even help you by cooking your meals while you are away. For example, you can make your own version of sweet and sour by simply tossing in your favorite healthy sauce with some chicken breasts and colorful diced peppers and pineapple, and simply leaving it be. It’s a great way to slow cook proteins such as meats because the rate of cooking is often slow enough that it needs minimal oils or seasonings for proper cooking.
No matter what your reason for meal prepping is, we hope that these tips, tricks, and resources can help you make the most of your experience while helping you stick to your goals. Meal prepping is definitely not easy by any means, but nothing worthwhile is easy, in the end. With a little discipline and motivation, meal prepping can give you the boost you need to feel great and manage both your appetite and fitness goals all in one shot. As time goes on, we hope that you will find that it gets easier and easier each time you prep. As prepping becomes easier, you will find that sticking to your meal plan does too, and over time, you will even find yourself craving some of your deliciously, pre-prepped meals, over those that you are typically used to and trying desperately to avoid.