Meal prepping is the final, crucial step in a healthy meal planning regimen. Embracing this process will ensure you eat well every night of the week, while saving you both time and money. Let’s look at what meal prepping is, how it’s done, and how it can play a huge role in your fitness plan.
What is meal prep?
Meal prepping is an essential part of meal planning, the process of pre-arranging healthy, varied, and economical meals for every night of the week. Meal prepping puts your meal plan into action: readying the ingredients (chopping vegetables, pre-cooking rice, preparing a sauce, etc.) for a week’s worth of meals and then portioning them in batches to be quickly and easily assembled into nightly dinners. It can also mean preparing entire meals ahead of time, ready to be reheated whenever you have the time and appetite.
Meal preps help you take charge of your diet. If you’re committed to developing a fitness routine, meal preps are the way to go. Remember: diet plays a huge role in achieving your fitness goals. Preparing a week’s worth of meals may seem daunting, but once you get started you'll be delighted to find how easy and convenient it really is, and wonder why you waited so long to start.
Further reading: Summer’s over, school’s back in — It’s time to develop a fitness routine
Before trying meal prepping, consider the following:
- The first time may seem tough – You may have to invest a couple of hours preparing the ingredients and portioning them in containers. But think of the rewards: you’ll save time every day of the week, won’t have to worry about what to eat, and won’t fall prey to the lure of expensive, unhealthy but easy dining out or ordering in.
- Food consistency may be imperfect – If you’re just starting out, don’t be discouraged if things aren’t perfect. Don’t stress if the quinoa turns out too wet or the chicken is overcooked. You’ll get better at it the more you do it.
- Meals don’t have to be repetitive and bland – One of the main goals of meal planning and meal prepping is variety. Meal prepping gives you the luxury of preparing a different dish for every night of the week. Consider using tools such as meal planning apps to make your life easier.
- Consume them while they’re fresh – You’ve made an effort to create your meals, so don’t let them go to waste! Use clean, reusable containers that keep food fresh throughout the week. Label them clearly, and decide in advance if refrigeration or freezing is the best option.
- Recognize the goals of meal-prepping – Meal prepping will save you time and money (home-cooked meals = huge savings). But the best reason to do it is to make sure you have nutritious meals at all times and to avoid the temptation to eat junk food. But that will only happen if you prepare healthy food — after all, you could just order five pizzas that last you the week and call it a day. Having the convenience of healthy meal preps ensures you don’t resort to fast food in a moment of weakness.
How to develop a meal prep habit
Great news — making a habit out of meal prepping is not as difficult as you think. A few tips:
- Keep it simple – Choose simple recipes that you like. Whether you’re preparing meals for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, choose recipes that won’t require you to spend hours in the kitchen. Use ingredients that can be used for many types of dishes, such as chicken, yogurt, and vegetables. Prepare meals you can reheat easily.
- Invest in the right kitchen tools – Buy kitchen tools that will make food preparation a lot easier. You’ll be dicing, slicing, and juicing; a chopping board or a blender that can handle the demands of preparing a week’s worth of ingredients will be worth it. Buy airtight containers that can keep your meal portions fresh in the fridge for days.
- Use pre-cut ingredients – It’s perfectly acceptable to buy pre-sliced fruits, vegetables, and meats. If your neighborhood grocery store sells pre-cut produce, feel free to grab those. You don’t have to make everything from scratch!
- Meal prep while doing a hobby – Cutting broccoli and peeling pot . atoes seem a lot less tedious while listening to your favorite podcasts or watching a TV show.
- Meal prep this week, and repeat – You may feel the hours slipping away as you hack and slice and put meals in their containers, but it will pay off a little bit more each week. Meal prepping is one of the best habits to develop and if you keep at it, you’ll be much better at it in no time.
What’s another great benefit of having healthy, tasty meals already prepared at the end of the day? Using the nutritional boost to help achieve your fitness goals faster — Club4Fitness’s fun, friendly personal trainers can help!