Or you want that 5K or half marathon to feel a bit easier this fall…
Maybe you’re just ready to start living life again…
You know what to do – eat cleaner foods, watch your calories, exercise more, etc.
Do you know what the real key to your success is?
Sure you’ve probably heard that before from coaches, Google, or other friends with success, but if you really want to get to the nitty gritty of consistent adherence, then we need to cover preparation.
It’s a crucial factor to your success. It includes writing out your grocery list before you head to the store, pre-tracking your meals to crush your goals, and most definitely, meal prep.
Setting aside the time to pre-plan or prepare your meals makes you 100% more likely to stick to your nutrition plan throughout the week.
Yet, as a coach, so many of my clients are too busy and struggling to meal prep, which leads them to make hurried and decision-fatigued choices during the week.
Quit looking at social media and telling yourself that your food needs to be pretty or picture-worthy! All you need is a recipe that fits your macros, your schedule, and most importantly, your preference.
If you’re not yet sold on meal-prep, then keep reading as I lay out the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of meal-prep.
Surprise, surprise – I think EVERYONE should meal prep. But what might surprise you, is that I believe everyone should meal prep in a way that fits them!
I’ve done this long enough to know that some do best preparing for the entire week.
Others thrive off preparing food every 3 to 4 days. Then there is a percentage of people who do best preparing THAT day, and they can because their schedule allows for it!
Everyone SHOULD meal prep. Everyone CAN meal prep. It’s a matter of finding what is right for YOU!
WHY SHOULD EVERYONE MEAL PREP?
One and Done
- How nice is it to think that after ONE DAY in the kitchen you’re set for a few days, maybe an entire week? The cooking is done and you’ve created the plan for success, because of that alone, you are WAY more likely to stick to your nutrition plan.
- We live in the age of wanting more and more time, but spending one day meal prepping frees you from time over the stove and doing dishes the rest of the week. Who knows, if you decide to pack up your meals, you’ll buy yourself some time each day trying to figure out what to eat.
- When you have meals prepared at home, you eat out less, and when that happens, you’re saving yourself some extra calories AND your hard earned cash.
- As a coach and fellow meal prepper, I understand logging your food takes time. If you prepare 3+ meals a week, all you have to do is swipe right or copy and paste your meal from the day before. Log 1 time and you could be set for the week!
Improve Your Willpower
- Money and time are what we all want, but in the case of dieting, we all want more willpower. When you have meals prepared at work or home, you’re less likely to make an impulsive stop or give into a temptation outside of your plan.
- Sunday has become the universal day for meal prep, but the reality is if you are preparing for the entire week, then pick the day that works best for you! Maybe that’s a Saturday or Monday. When you plan out your week, include meal prep in your planning; therefore, it’s in your calendar and you won’t miss it!
- If you’re like me, sometimes you don’t have an entire Sunday to cook. In our house, grocery shopping is done on either Thursday or Friday because it works best for our schedule. The actual cooking takes place on either Saturday or Sunday, again dependent on our schedule. If you’re prepping for an entire week, break up the “pre” prep stuff – grocery shopping, veggie cutting, marinating, etc. to cut down on your actual kitchen time.
Every 3 to 4 Days
- Similar to the One Day strategy, select the days that work best for your schedule, but again set aside time when you plan out your week to avoid a last minute scramble!
- While you may be cooking every 3 or 4 days, many find it easier to shop for the entire week! Be sure to factor in your shopping time when you’re planning your meal prep time!
- If you have the ability to cook daily, it is important to still take some time the night before or first thing in the morning to map out your day. You may need to consider if you’ll be cooking everything at night for the next day, when each meal approaches, or first thing in the morning. Again, I recommend planning this into your schedule so you’re not making fatigued decisions!
- Whether you’re prepping for the week, every 3 to 4 days, or daily, you can benefit from some form of daily prep. You may not be cooking your meals, but taking the time to review what to pack, schedule conflicts, or make any necessary changes!
Your kitchen of course! The point of this section is to show you all the kitchen tools, utensils, and gadgets to make meal prep a little bit easier!
- Rice Cooker
- Food Processor
- Waffle Maker
- Panini Maker
What can I do?
- New to meal prep? Don’t hold yourself to the standard of having every detail of every meal prepped for the week. Start by laying out 1 meal and 1 snack for yourself, and gradually add in the rest. Keep track of the recipes you liked, were simplest to prep, and what you might like to see more of!
- Another important small step to take is simplicity. If you love trying new recipes, that’s great and you can definitely go for it! But this can really increase your time and supplies! Some of my staple recipes have 5 or less ingredients!
Buy Already Prepped Foods
- If you are someone who feels tight on time with meal prep, then I highly recommend looking to add pre-prepped foods to your list. Pre-cut veggies, fruits, starches, and meats are great for cutting down on your prep time! Many stores now carry pre-packaged veggies or meats that are already seasoned and waiting to be cooked! Buyers beware that these may cost more, but if time is your biggest enemy, it might be worth it!
- If you run out of food mid-week or find yourself with less time for meal prep than anticipated, double (maybe even triple) your lunch or dinner to set yourself up for days to come! Stir fry or InstantPot meals are great for doubling up. Once it’s cooked, portion out the leftovers in containers, and you’re on your way!
Use All the Appliances
- Think about how many meals you could have going at once!? Grill, stove, and oven could take care of your breakfast, lunch, and dinner in one hour!
- I cannot give enough praise to crockpots and InstantPots– load up those bad boys and let it sit! They’re so great because you don’t have to give any attention to it until they’re done, which means you can focus on the other meals of your prep!
How Many Meals?
Let’s say you want to prep lunch for your workweek, so you need to prepare 5 lunches.
If that’s a big enough step for you, that’s GREAT! If you want to take it a step further think about your daily calorie and macro goals and approximately how many calories or macros your lunch should contain. For example, I consume approximately 2000 calories per day with a protein goal of 200 grams; therefore, if I’m eating 4 meals a day, my lunch should be 500 calories and contain 50 grams of protein.
The most important thing is to consider your preferences – don’t cook something if you know you won’t like it but it fits in your macros!
Find Recipes & Make a List of Foods
Find recipes meeting your preferences. For example, if you love Mexican food, find a taco salad recipe that is easy for you to portion out and take for lunches. Determine how much protein and carbs you need for cooking, and make your list and head on over to the store!
If you’re still not sure where to start on a grocery list, use this list as a starter:
- Chicken (Breasts or Ground)
- Turkey (Breasts or Ground)
- Grass Fed Beef
- Wild Game
- ANY and ALL Veggies
- Beans & Legumes
- Sweet Potatoes & Yams
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Nut Butters
- Tree Nuts
- Grass Fed Butter
Cook Protein, Carbs, and Fats
You’ve planned, made the list, gone shopping, so now it’s COOKING TIME! Take all of those delicious ingredients, and start on those recipes!
Once the cooking is done, divide the recipe into 5 containers, and your lunch is set for the week!
If you’ve never meal prepped, I understand how it appears as a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated, time-consuming thing. Simplify the process by focusing on the basics o your meals (proteins and veggies), breaking up the process to fit your schedule, and using all of your kitchen gadgets.
Once you’ve meal prepped for a couple of weeks, the process gets even simpler and takes less time. Before you know it, one to two hours can set you up with meals for the entire week, improve your diet, save time throughout the week, and help you reach your goals faster!
What kind of meal prep blog would this be if I didn’t leave you with some of my favorite recipes? Check these out and give them a try when you meal prep this weekend!