You’ve heard the saying, “Do the things you HAVE to do, so that you can do the things you WANT to do!” In this case, we are talking about MEAL PREP!
The will to succeed is important, but what’s most important is the will to prepare! – Bobby Knight, head coach Indiana Hoosiers
We all want to be successful in our fitness journeys, yet how often are we caught with our hand in the proverbial, and literal, cookie jar when we find ourselves starving and not prepared with anything nutritious to eat? There’s a reason FAST food is so highly popular and addictive….it’s easy, fast and convenient. However, it’s the last thing you want in your tool belt when setting forth on a weight loss journey. So in order to avoid the McD’s drive thru out of desperation and hunger, we’ve got to make healthy food fast, easy and convenient for you too! Then, if you’re still going thru the drive thru ordering a Big Mac, well, that’s on you! 🙂
The thought of spending several hours in the kitchen preparing food for the week ahead doesn’t necessarily make anyone giddy. However, those few hours bring a much higher return on the amount of time, effort and sanity you are saving during the hectic work week.
Some of the benefits you’ll find by choosing to invest in meal preparation:
- Spend less on dining out
- Less trips thru the drive thru
- Throwing out so much less of the food you purchase
- More time throughout the week for friends and family
There are various ways to meal prep and the only RIGHT way is the way that’s right for YOU!
Let’s first discuss meal prepping 5 days worth of meals!
There are many people who want to have all of their meals planned out, cooked, packaged and waiting for them during the workweek. They may, or may not, meal prep for all 7 days, but often the weekends tend to be more relaxed since you have more time on your hands to prepare your meal fresh or possibly eat out socially. You’ll often see this style of meal preparation from athletes, fitness competitors or even your average Joe who wants to make sure they are eating clean and staying on track. The downside to eating this way is repetition can become boring for many people.
Breakfast prepare 5 containers of overnight oats & place in fridge. Fresh fruit can be added to bowl in morning. OR 10 eggs are boiled (2 for each breakfast) and placed in a container along with roasted potatoes and fruit.
Lunch Grill 5 chicken breasts. Cook enough green beans for 5 days worth. Roast a bunch of butternut squash. Portion out chicken, green beans and butternut squash into 5 separate containers.
Dinner Roast several spaghetti squashes, make up a large batch of marinara and meatballs. Make large tossed salad (do not add dressing). Portion out the spaghetti squash, marinara and meatballs into 5 containers. Portion out 5 containers of salad.
It’s a lot of work for one day, but on the flip side, ALL of your meals are accomplished for the week. One day your slave to the kitchen, but now your free the rest of the week. If you don’t get easily bored by eating the same thing over and over, this could be the way you’ll want to meal prep. Of course you CAN add more variety. That just adds additional foods that must be prepared.
Batch-cooking is just like it sounds; meal prepping food in large batches and then storing them in containers for later use. I like batch cooking. It works well for me and provides the variety I like as well.
Some examples of batch cooking include:
Preparing an egg casserole that you can eat on all week. My favorite happens to be this one from Paleo Running Momma. I’ve never found a compliant chorizo though, so I use Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausage. Or perhaps use a muffin tin and make egg cups like the ones found HERE.
Making several large batches of soup and portioning them out to take along for lunches with some veggies and protein. Some of my favorites that I’m enjoying right now are found HERE.
Preparing a variety of veggies for the week is always a good idea too. Make a big pan of roasted sweet potatoes, zucchini, squash, or green beans. Then, whatever veggie mood you’re in that day, you’ve got it covered!
A subset of batch-cooking is cooking up lots of protein for the week. If you only have time to prepare ONE thing…I’d say focus on this. The protein portion of your meal is always the hardest and longest to prepare, so having this step done makes preparing the rest of your meal a breeze.
I like to batch cook the following proteins each week:
Boil a bunch of eggs
Bake several packages of bacon (nitrate free, no added sugars, Whole 30 approved)
Everything always gets eaten. As the week goes on, if I notice we still have an abundance of a certain meat, I’ll simply incorporate that into our evening dinners as the protein portion.
Whatever method of meal prep that works for you, commit to setting aside time each week for it! Not only will you save time throughout the week from effort on the front end, but your fitness journey will be strengthened by having healthy food so readily available. This is a habit you’ll want to do repeatedly for success!
So what method works for you?