Structure and focus are essential for achieving goals. Outlining a framework for positive change is exactly what meal prepping can offer. If you are simply trying to save time or reach an athletic goal, meal prepping is right for you. Personalization in meal prepping keeps eating and preparing your food fun and interesting. We have developed some key Do’s and Don’ts which will help you be successful.
Here are 4 Do’s and Don’ts that can help guide you to success.
1) Do find a day that you can prep a few meals.
Meal Prep time should be a fun and creative time. Prepping on the same day you shop allows for less clutter in your refrigerator as well as food waste. Better yet, grab a friend and make it a party. Teamwork makes the dream work, right?!
Don't over prep.
Preparing meals in advance should be realistic and fit within your lifestyle. Preparing too much food can end in failure. Start be preparing out 2-3 days of food in the beginning. You will find that food tastes better if it hasn't been sitting for a long time and you won’t get bored eating the same meal over and over. If you want to plan out longer, try limiting your meals to just lunch for the week or cooking extra protein that you can add to dishes on the fly.
2) Do use foods that can keep for a couple days.
Choosing foods that will keep in your refrigerator at home or at work is simple, it just takes a bit of planning. Protein choices like chicken or turkey are great options because they tend to retain their moisture when cooked properly. For veggies try using hearty, fiber rich choices like green beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, butternut squash and cucumbers. These veggies can either be cooked or kept raw in your containers without losing nutrients, crunch or taste.
Don't choose vegetables that will wilt or become soggy.
While most think that preparing salads for future consumption is a good idea, we would recommend against it. Salad greens wilt and become watery after only a day if mixed with veggies or meats that contain a high amount of water. If you are prepping a salad, make sure to prep everything separate: veggies, meats and dressing.
3) Do change up your menu each week.
Pinterest isn't just for crafty moms anymore. With just a glance you can find visually appealing and fun recipes that are surprisingly simple. Changing up your menu each week or perhaps bi-weekly will help you from getting bored with your food.
Tip: Cook 2-3 types of proteins for your week. This way you can easily switch it up and add it to different dishes while continuing to crush your goals
Don't over complicate the recipes.
Keep your prep simple. Egg bakes for a breakfast prep simply need veggies and eggs. Lunch prep should have Proteins and Carbs. Find some spices that you enjoy, choose ingredients that you feel comfortable cooking (in the beginning), and go for it. As long as your macro-nutrients are accounted for and you have a nice color profile in each meal, the chances that your meals will be balanced is pretty good. Pinterest, again, can be your best friend.
4) Do stick to the program.
By starting a meal prep routine you are creating small changes in your daily habits toward optimal health. Those small changes add up to greater achievement. Start small by meal prepping for 4-5x a week. This allows for balance at the same time.
Don’t feel like meal prepping is a ball and chain.
Accountability and talking with your trainer or friend about meal prep and goals is a way to not hate the process. Meal prepping should be fun, not a death sentence. If you grab your food from the fridge and cringe, you need to evaluate the food not the system. Nutrition that is forced is called dieting. Dieting is not sustainable. When we enjoy eating, we achieve our goals faster. Prep with positivity.