It’s evening time. You got off work to fight your way home through the traffic. You slip your shoes off and sink onto the sofa and commence relaxation mode. But then, you hear the dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?”
And all of your relaxation is now out the window. I’m sure this is quite a familiar situation for most of us, some of us are probably there right now! In today’s busy, on-the-go lifestyle most of us don’t have the time or energy to cook every day. So we either grab food while we are out and about, or we prepare something “quick and easy”, which often times is processed food that’s not healthy for us. As most experts will tell you, 70% of your fitness is created in the kitchen by what we put into our bodies for fuel. Nutrition and a proper diet are the building blocks of a healthy and strong body; don’t fall into the trap of self sabotage because you find the task of cooking to be daunting!
My husband and I approached meal prepping at the beginning of this year (2016) to tackle our time constraint issues, as there simply just weren’t enough hours in the day to cook on top of everything else we were doing. I pulled up my favorite site on the world wide web, Pinterest, and started looking into meal plans and suggestions for putting them together. As with many things that are fitness related, how you put your meal plan together is very specific to each individual and their goals. As long as your diet matches your goals how you food prep is entirely up to you! Below are some tips that I feel are really important to getting started and then there are some helpful links to recipes and calendars are the bottom.
- Know Your Numbers. If you are working with macronutrients or food journaling, it is very important to know your numbers so that you can properly plan and prepare meals that coincide with your dietary needs. For those that are carb cycling or intermittent fasting, you will especially want to take these into consideration when picking out your meals. Click the link to learn more about macronutrients or to calculate what macronutrient structure might be beneficial to you and your goals.
- Always Start With A Plan. The whole concept of prepping your meals revolves around having a plan of action. I usually suggest doing a week at a time, two weeks max. Anything more than that and you run the risk of not sticking to your plan. Pick out some recipes/meals, remember to adjust batches to ensure you have enough servings, check what you have in the cupboard vs. what you will need, and make your grocery list.
- Keep It Simple Silly. Overcomplicating things is only an invitation for failure. When we first started out, we had a difference breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all seven days- talk about way too much work and time! After some experimentation, we’ve settled into a nice groove with one of each repeated over the week. We stocked up on staples like EVOO, spices, quinoa, and beans and made these the center of most of our meals. Making our meals around the staples we already had at home lightened up our grocery bill and allowed us to actually save some money.
- Stock Up On Containers. I highly recommend investing in some microwaveable meal prep containers. 2 people eating 3 times a day for 7 days = A LOT of containers. Using compartment containers not only saves you some space in your frig, but it also assists with portion control. You can find some great options on Amazon.
- Designate A Cooking Day. Sunday is our fun day! We’ve made a bit of a ritual out of planning our meals, going to the store, and then having a few beers while we whip up our deliciousness for the week. Whatever day works best for you and your schedule should be your prep day. You’ll be more likely to stick with it once it’s become routine.
- HAVE FUN! Above all else, have fun with it!! Keep it interesting, try new meals, remake healthier versions of your favorite comfort foods. Just because you are trying to eat clean and healthy does NOT mean that your food has to be bland and boring! Be adventurous and experiment, you won’t know if you don’t like something until you try it out. Some of my favorite dishes so far have been reimagining old favorites (ex. chia seed crust pizza, spaghetti squash spaghetti, zucchini lasagna), the sky is the limit! Try out a really great recipe resource such as Pinterest or Yummly for fresh inspiration.
Here are some more great resources to check out: