Are you putting your health and fitness in jeopardy by failing to set workout times or plan healthy meals? Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
I doubt he was thinking about “meal prep” when he said it. However, it’s a pretty good blanket statement about most things in our lives. By failing to properly prepare when beginning a fitness program, you’re almost guaranteeing failure.
Thinking about balanced meals can become overwhelming. There’s the shopping and cooking involved on a day to day basis. This alone prevents many people with good intentions from following through with their plans.
The kitchen is your main place to begin a diet plan that will help you become fit and enjoy health throughout the years. In the kitchen, you can control portions for days or weeks to come and prepare foods to help you lose fat and build muscle.
The more you plan your meals and snacks ahead, the better results you’ll get from your fitness and health plan. Without pre-planning, you may skip essential meals to keep you energetic and focused.
You may also tend to crave foods you shouldn’t have. Fewer food choices mean that you’ll eat healthier and be more satisfied during the day time hours because you planned ahead to ensure you’re receiving the proper nutrition and enough fuel to keep your body and mind working at full blast.
Splurging on unhealthy foods such as fast food drive through options is one reason people become obese and develop health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
When you control your eating environment and routine, you’ll still be eating without having to think about it – but you’ll be eating much healthier foods. Planning for a carb, a protein and fat for each meal is a good way to help transition your body from flabby to fit.
Plan your meals and snacks carefully by sitting down each week and jotting down ingredients for recipes and items you’ll need at the grocery store. Then, set aside time to cook and prepare for the meals.
After the food is cooked (or prepared to cook), divide it into portions that fit your diet and health routine. Knowing what you’ll be consuming on a day to day basis means that you don’t have to concentrate each day on what you’ll need to shop for and prepare.
Not only will you save time and cut calories – you’ll also save money because you’re not “impulse” eating. Impulse eating can lead to bad habits that are difficult to break and that will set you up for diet and fitness failure.
Meal Prep Organization
One of the great things about meal prepping is that it helps you manage your other activities and create more time for things you love to do. But you also need to manage your meal prepping tasks by staying organized so that each meal week that you prep happens smoothly and easily.
Whether you’re sticking to a budget, working with time constraints, trying to eat healthy or simply trying to alleviate stress in your life, meal prepping can be a life saver. Think ahead and prepare recipes and keep resources on hand that will help you stay organized and make the meal prep time an enjoyable task.
Before you begin, make sure you have the necessary tools to prepare and store the meals you plan to make. Containers of various sizes with an ability to stack or freeze are important assets to your meal prep organization. They’ll keep portion and calorie sizes ready to serve.
Slow cookers, blenders, mixers and whisks are also valuable tools to help the meal prep process go faster. Snack bags will help you break down snacks you purchase in bulk and dry erase markers for containers and sharpies for plastic bags help you identify what you’ve prepared.
Meal prep calendars and grocery lists are valuable assets for planning ahead. They take the hassle out of meal preparation because you’ll be able to glance at each day on the calendar and know exactly what you’re serving your family.
Printable grocery lists are also available online and can be organized by aisle or sections of the store. When you return home from the store with your items, sort them on the countertop. Group them into those you plan to make or prep now – and those which you’ll do later.
Washing and prepping fruits and veggies ahead of putting together a recipe is also a great way to organize your meals. You can store the prepared items in baggies or containers in the refrigerator or freezer for instant use later on.
Bake chicken or brown your meat and store in the refrigerator to use for meal prep during the week. Keep in mind that cooked meat will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 3 or 4 days. Cooked rice and pasta can also be cooked and stored for instant use.
Label everything so you don’t have to open containers to see what you’ve prepped. A bit of planning and organizing before meal prepping keeps you on track and cuts down on everyday stress.
Tips to Make Meal Prep Easy
Meal prepping is an excellent way to eat healthier and lose weight. You’ll also gain other benefits such as not spending money for last minute and unhealthy food choices, running back and forth from the store to find items.
Saving time is also a perk of meal prepping, and that’s something that appeals to everyone. Preparing meals ahead of time means you’re taking a break from the daily hassle of wondering what to fix for dinner, running out the door without breakfast and frequenting expensive restaurants or high calorie fast food for lunch.
Those vending machines for snacks can also be expensive and unhealthy. Here are some meal prep hacks to help you shop, cook and divide your meals into easily manageable choices for the days or week ahead:
- Choose one time per week to cook. If you can, shop and cook your meals on one particular day and time each week. This means that the oven will only be heated once, the mess of chopping and slicing meats and veggies happens only once and you’ll have time during the week for things you want and need to do.
- Use a crock pot to save time and effort. The Internet is bursting with slow cooker recipes that can save you time, effort and money. Or – create your own recipes by tossing in some meat, veggies and yummy spices (plus liquid) and do your own thing while it cooks.
- Plan for snacks. We all love to snack between meals and that can be deadly to a diet and fitness routine. Rather than leaving your fate to the vending machines, invest in some healthy pre-planned snacks to keep all week for when hunger and cravings hit unexpectedly.
Another good hack to know when it comes to meal prep is to know your foods’ timeline for freshness. Some foods, such as apples, are more sensitive to time passage than others.
They become brown and pithy as soon as they become exposed to oxygen. Get to know your selected foods’ timeline for freshness and wait for cutting or slicing until you’re ready to use them in a recipe.
Also, it’s okay to repeat meals during the days or weeks ahead. Enjoyment of your food is key here. When you love a recipe or enjoy eating leftovers, it’s perfectly okay to make up a batch and serve it later on during the week.
It’s important to organize your refrigerator before meal prepping. You don’t want to be in a hurry to get out the door and have to rummage through the refrigerator for your carefully prepared breakfast.
Meal Prep Ideas
You’ll think of more tips and ideas to make meal prepping fun and enjoyable as you go along. The Internet and meal prepping blogs are also good ways to see what others are doing.
Here are some of my favourite:
From Daily Burn: 12 Brilliant Meal Prep Ideas to Free Up Your Time
When it comes to healthy eating, preparation is the key to success. (Those Boy Scouts are onto something.) In fact, one study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine suggests that spending time on preparing and cooking meals at home is linked with better dietary habits. But if you love the convenience of prepackaged foods and restaurant meals, it might be hard to go cold turkey on your take-out routine. READ MORE
From Fit Foodie Finds: Best Healthy Meal Prep Recipes
Single? Married? Got a family? MEAL PREP IS FOR YOU! Seriously, meal prep is a life saver for busy people and I know you are all busy. If this is the first time you are hearing the term meal prep…I can explain. It’s when you take one day out of the week (usually a weekend) and prep all of your food for the week. We’re talking breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert…the whole shebang. This makes healthy eating during the week extremely accessible and gives you NO EXCUSES to eat like crap READ MORE
From New Leaf Wellness
There is nothing on this site that I don’t LOVE. Crock pot freezer meals – these are the ultimate in meal prep! I just dare you not to find something in this vast array of meals, recipes, tips, printable guides…. READ MORE