We are now in our second month of the 12 month to a Healthier You series. If you missed the first month of January you can read it here.
The topic for February is Meal Prepping!
It’s easier to eat clean when healthy meals are already in your fridge. You can take a healthy lunch to work and eat a healthy dinner as well. There’s no waiting and grabbing junk food because you’re so hungry. Junk food is usually the quickest, cheapest, and easiest thing to grab when on the go or super hungry. Set aside a day to plan and prep your food each week.
Meal prepping is just that-prepping and preparing your meals ahead of time. It will make your life so much easier. Sticking to a healthy diet can be as simple as retrieving a tray out the refrigerator. Now who wouldn’t like that? I admire those who are committed to and have time to cook every day. Most people do not have that kind of time. Or they’d rather spend their time doing something else besides cooking. This is where meal preparation comes in. Without meal prep, your chances significantly increase of eating junk or convenience foods.
If you’re not able to take a day (or half a day) to prepare meals for the week start off slow. For instance, if you always skip breakfast because you don’t have time to fix it in the mornings, do a week’s worth of breakfast in one day. Or, if you always find yourself going out to lunch everyday while at work then make preparing lunch for the week your priority. You don’t have to master or tackle this prep thing all at once. It can be overwhelming at first. However, if you’re gung ho and feel like preparing your breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week then by all means have at it. Meal prep can mean different things to each person. The goal is to just start somewhere! Oh, and don’t forget those healthy snacks as well when doing your meal prep. It may take a bit of trial and error to get settled into a routine that suits your lifestyle and preferences.
The first thing you need to do is invest in some good quality food containers. Keep in mind that if you are going to be reheating your food in these you want to choose ones that are BPA free. Heating your food in an oven is best, but if you must heat it in a microwave at least do it BPA free style! Make sure you buy all sizes of containers. You will want containers for storing food and for taking with you if you leave home to go to a job every day. Make sure your containers are air tight and leak proof and easy to store. They should also be safe to use in the microwave, refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher.
Before actually starting your meal prep, plan it out first. Don’t overwhelm yourself as I stated before. Cooking enough food for a week is major. Especially if you plan to do breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you want to test the waters first only plan meals for one area. Pick either breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but don’t forget those snacks. Which of those is your biggest struggle when it comes to preparing it?
Also, prepare a meal plan ahead of time. Make your grocery list and go shopping for everything you need early. Write down what you’ll be eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some people have a hard time eating the same thing over and over, so if you’re one of them keep that in mind. Go to my pinterest page here and check out the Meal Prep boards I’ve pinned to get some great ideas on how to make meals. Write down each breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack you will be eating, then break that down into a list of ingredients, and how much of each you will need to last for however many days you are meal prepping. Now is not the time to try anything fancy. Pick foods that will stay good in the frig for a few days.
Some people like to do a whole week all at once and get it over with. Other may opt for preparing a few days’ meals at a time. It’s entirely up to you. The whole point is not only to make your life easier, but to ensure you are eating healthy foods as well. You are free to utilize mail prep in whatever way you choose, but this post is about using mail prep to be healthier. Therefore this isn’t about cooking fattening dishes, trying out recipes, or making a bunch of sugary deserts for later. Meal planning should change your whole outlook on food while giving you an easy approach to keeping consistent with your healthy food choices.
Keep it simple. The quickest way to overwhelm yourself and give up on meal prepping is to start complicating things by trying to make fancy meals and become a master chef all at the same time. This is especially true if you don’t know how to cook or don’t enjoy cooking. Take the time to learn a few basic steps in cooking. Pick a few staples that you’ll use time and time again. For example, chicken is a great choice. Learn how to bake chicken first before you go trying to meal prep. It may sound ridiculous but some people really are that clueless in the kitchen. Find simple dishes to make and you will enjoy prepping much better.
Get the hard stuff out the way first
If you find yourself always skipping breakfast because you’re not a morning person and just don’t want to bother in the morning then start with breakfast. Meal prep your way to some tasty and healthy breakfast creations to get you going in the morning.
Prep before you prep
Get yourself ready for meal prepping by thawing out your meat, marinating foods, chopping, sorting, organizing, etc. You’d be surprised how doing this can cut your meal prepping time down. Break your sessions down even further if you wish. Maybe you can put all you rice in a rice cooker and get that part out the way.
Make it fun and interesting
Please do not cook chicken for the whole week if you know you get bored with food easily. You may have to cook two meats for the week and eat chicken half of the week a different meat the other half. This goes for veggies as well and anything else you cook. Cook at least 4 veggies for your meal prep as to not grow tired of the same foods. As an incentive for the monotony consider having one day a week where you get to treat yourself. Maybe you get to eat a small serving of ice cream as a pat on the back for sticking to your meal prep meals. Or perhaps you will go to a restaurant as your special treat. After a while you’ll be able to identify which meals work for you. You may find that eating chicken 3 nights a week is fine but anything more than that is a no go for you. Then you can adjust your meal prep staples accordingly.
If you stick with meal prepping you will reap several benefits. Some of the benefits include eating healthier, saving money, saving time, meeting you fitness goals, and even becoming a better more efficient cook.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be hard. You can have fun with it. Every 3 months treats yourself to a “prize” for sticking to it. Why not join a yoga class after 3 months. After 6 months go ahead and buy that fabulous dress or suit you’ve been eyeing. Make a list of all of your favorite healthy dishes and experiment (after getting meal prep down of course). If you haven’t experienced the awesomeness that is Pinterest by now you are missing out. You can find everything there. That’s how I first got inspired to start meal prepping myself! Buy a cute notebook to write down your Meal Prep plan.
Remember January was all about being positive. Therefore your positive mindset should help you conquer meal prepping and succeed. Leave a comment and let me know how meal prepping is going for you.
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And don’t forget to Eat well. Be well. Repeat.