How to Meal Prep the Right Way
It’s cheaper and healthier than eating out…
…Here’s how to meal prep the right way.
Have you ever had one of those busy mornings and completely forgotten to make your lunch? (I’ve been there and it stinks!) My guess is that you ended up choosing whatever was quick and convenient.
Sure, you can always hop over to the nearest health food place and pay $15 for a salad but what if we told you that there is a cheaper, more delicious, and healthier option?
Meal prepping might be your answer.
What Is Meal Prepping?
Meal prepping involves preparing your meals (typically lunch, although you can meal prep dinner, too) for the coming week.
The idea is to make things in large batches and divide them into portions for the days you need them. There’s a learning curve to meal prepping because you have to plan it out ahead of time, but once you’ve got it down, you won’t regret it.
Won’t eating the same thing every day get boring? Well, it doesn’t have to. Read on to find out how to meal prep to take your health back into your hands.
Why Should I Meal Prep?
We live in a busy, work-centric culture, which means most people don’t have the time for a healthy, homemade lunch. Instead, they opt for “grab and go” lunches they scarf down in the car between meetings.
It may be convenient for the short term, but it’s far from the healthiest option.
Meal prepping takes the time factor almost entirely out of the equation. You’ll have a healthy meal ready to eat exactly when you need it.
With meal prepping, you also know exactly what is going into your food and with that type of control you can really be one leg up on your macronutrients. Additionally, if you’ve had a hectic day, you won’t have to worry about trying to get takeout and hurrying back to work.
How To Meal Prep
To get the most out of your meal prep, you’ll need to have some containers. You can use any meal prep containers you like, but I think mason jars and divided lunch boxes are great. You can find tons of recipes online for awesome mason jar meals.
You’ll also need the ingredients, of course. Focus on the outer edge of the grocery store—in other words, fresh produce, proteins, and dairy.
To feel full and be healthy, limit your consumption of processed food. And don’t panic when you see the price! Remember, you’re prepping for a week’s worth of meals.
The good news is that you only have to cook once. I like to prep on Sunday for the week ahead. After you make a big batch of something delicious, divide it between your containers so they’re ready to heat and eat. Store in the fridge (or freezer, if you want to store things a bit longer and switch things up).
What Do I Make?
If you’re prepping your work lunches, keep in mind what you have available at the office. Is there a refrigerator? A microwave? Does your recipe require a stove or oven to reheat? Make sure that you look for recipes that utilize the equipment you’ve got on hand.
If you plan on freezing your meals, remember that certain ingredients won’t hold up well in the fridge or freezer. For instance, chopped fleshy fruit or crackers may get soggy or mushy. Make sure you pick well-reviewed recipes so you don’t end up having to throw away your lunch!
Since you’re doing the work anyway, I recommend taking the time to create balanced, healthy meals that include the right combination of protein, carbs, and fat.
Protein is what helps you build lean muscle (and feel full) and should be the focal point of your meals. Aim for 4-5 oz. for a woman and 6-8 oz. for a man.
Carbs will be the surrounding nutrient. Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are not the devil. Your body needs carbs and they should always be part of a well-balanced meal.
Surround your protein with plenty of vegetables and healthy fats. Fat keeps you satiated between meals. Fat can be avocado, oils for a salad, nuts, or dairy.
Will It Get Boring?
That all depends on you.
Once you’ve laid out a few good recipes you’d like to try, make sure there is room for some diversity (especially if you’re the type that will get bored with the same type of food every day). My recommendation is to change up the sauce or staple ingredients that go in the meal.
For example, if it is a mason jar salad loaded with chicken and veggies, do a Greek dressing one day and ranch the next. It will be a totally different flavor.
What If I Get Hungry?
Skip that vending machine! You can prep snacks, too.
There’s no need to go crazy when planning out your snacks. Snacks only need to hold you over until your next complete meal. A snack can be as simple as some fruit or nuts and as complex as a mini meal.
In order to get all of your macronutrients in, aim for a well-rounded snack. For example, a small handful of almonds and a bowl of fruit would give you your carbs, fat, and protein in a small nutritious package. You can choose one or the other, but it likely won’t keep you satisfied as long.
Aim for whole foods as opposed to “filler” or processed foods (like chips). Chips are empty calories and will only add to the unhealthy fats and carbs in your daily intake.
Meal prepping can seem overwhelming at first but, once you get the hang of it, it’s a piece of cake (but not literally).
Not sure if it’s for you? Find some great recipes that sound good to you (don’t force yourself to eat something you don’t like just because it’s “healthy”) and do a trial run. See how long it takes you to chop, organize, and fill the food containers. Then you’ll know how much time you need to carve out for the prepping.
Minus the planning and small amount of time it takes, we really cannot think of a downside to meal prepping. Not only does it save money, but it saves calories too. It’s quick, convenient, and much healthier than springing for fast food.
Do some research, fine some highly rated recipes, and as always, call today if you have any questions about nutrition or a membership. We are always glad to help.