Meal Prep 101
Written by contributor Matt Weik
Have you ever tried to "diet" and found nothing seemed to work in helping you achieve the weight loss results you desire? Are you dreading going home every night just to slave over the stove so that you can make a healthy meal? You're not alone. Many others just like you are running into the same problems. There's a simple solution... meal prepping.
Now, I know what you're thinking – it sounds complicated and time-consuming. Trust me, it's not and in the long run, it will not only save you a ton of time but it will also align with your weight loss goals. Meal prepping can be your saving grace not only for sanity reasons but we all get busy and when we don't have time to make a healthy meal, most will tend to either skip a meal altogether or they will run to the nearest fast food restaurant and grab something that isn't the healthiest just to get something in their system.
Meal Prepping Simplified
In a nutshell, meal prepping is generally done in one day. No, it won't take you the full day, but put aside at least an hour or more to get everything prepared and portioned out.
What you need to do for meal prepping is to figure out what macronutrients are going to make up your nutrition. Will you be using steak, eggs, chicken, fish, etc. for your protein sources? For vegetables will you be using asparagus, green beans, salad, broccoli, etc.? These are the things you need to plan out in advance so that you can hit up the grocery store and buy all of these items in bulk and all at once.
After you get all of your ingredients from the grocery store, it's time to start meal prepping. Decide if you will be grilling your protein sources, baking them, or cooking them on the stovetop. How will you be making your vegetables? Steam them? Grill them? Maybe even eat them raw depending on what it is? The choice is yours. But the key is to utilize one day (such as a Sunday) to prepare all of the food you plan on eating for the week.
Once you prepared all of your macros for the week, it's time to start planning out your meal prep containers, glass or plastic will work just fine. The key to meal prepping is to make full meals that are grab-and-go ready. What I mean by this is, you are going to want meals that you can simply grab from the refrigerator in the morning, toss them in your bag, and out the door you go. This cuts out excess time preparing your meals before work or school, having clean-up to take care of or do when you get back home, and we all know how things go if you don't have meals easily accessible to you.
What you want to do with your meal prep container is portion everything out into sections. Make sure around half of your container is full of the healthy vegetables you prepared and then split the other half into two sections where you can place your lean protein source along with a healthy fat to round out the meal. In some instances (such as with beef or eggs), they will count as both your lean protein source as well as your fat source.
If you want to take things a step further and speed up your results, weigh out your food on a food scale. Place the container on the scale, zero it out and then weigh out the exact amount of each macronutrient you put in it. Be sure each time you change to the next food or macronutrient that you again zero it out. Weighing out all of your food will help you better track your caloric intake for the day as well as your macros. You can put all of this information into an app and track your progress throughout the day.
Once you portion everything out into containers according to your specific taste, put a lid on the container and toss the meals into the refrigerator. That's really all there is to it. Now you have healthy meals ready whenever you need them and you don't even need to think about what to eat during the week since you have all of the prepackaged meals you prepared ready to go.
I'd recommend not preparing all of the same meals and be sure to have some variety so that you aren't eating the same meals multiple times a day and for multiple days in a row. That would be extremely boring and you'd end up having a poor relationship with food at that point.
By meal prepping, you can better manage your food intake (again, you can even go as far as weighing everything out if you wish to really get on top of your nutrition and weight loss). This will help prevent you from overeating as well as simplifying your life and freeing up your time during the week where you aren't constantly making meals. In the end, this is a fantastic strategy to help simplify your life and help you move closer to your weight loss goals.
Don’t forget about your snacks throughout the day as well. Plan them in advance so you aren’t left running to the vending machine or fast food restaurant to curb your cravings while derailing your weight loss progress. As they say, proper planning prevents poor performance.
When you’re at work or school, the last thing you want to do is have your energy levels taking a ride on a roller coaster. You want a steady stream of energy throughout the day and you can accomplish this by planning your snacks properly. Fruit, vegetables, nuts, and even protein or nutrition bars like The Best Bar Ever can help you perform optimally both mentally and physically.
No one said weight loss was going to be easy. But when you focus on meal prepping, it can make your life a heck of a lot easier.
Matt Weik, owner of Weik Fitness, LLC, is a well-respected fitness expert/author with a global following. His work has been featured in nearly 100 fitness magazines, 5,000+ websites, as well as having published numerous books and audiobooks. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist.