My Secret Sauce To a Healthy Weight: Meal Preparation
You want to look good, don’t you? Of course you do! You also want to feel good, right? What about look good, feel good, and do it all guilt-free?
Yes, my friends, this is possible with the right nutrition and training plan!
Lots of times I meet people looking to lose weight or get lean but they lack a solid training plan and solid nutrition. Sure, you can reach your goal with just one of these in place but you’re ultimately doing yourself a disservice by putting all them eggs into one basket. So, let me make this very clear: Exercise and a crappy diet are like oil and water. They don’t mix very well – you end up without the results you’re looking for or taking bazillion years longer trying to reach your goal.
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
If you’re already exercising regularly (with intensity, I might add) the key then is to build a solid nutritional base.
Notice I didn’t say ‘diet’ here. I loathe diets. I think they’re about as effective as the flu for losing weight: Effective but miserable; unwanted and uncomfortable. The flu sucks and so do diets. So there!
This is where meal prepping comes in. It’s not a diet, which already makes it awesome. It’s also a major life and time-saver, making meal prep the best thing since Lord of the Rings was turned into a movie. In short, prepping your meals will bring you this much closer to your fitness goals, and if you’re not doing it because ‘you don’t have time’ or you don’t know how, then read on! I’m here to rescue you from a lifetime of crappy food, crappy eating and guilt!
Here’s how I meal prep like a pro:
Step one: Prepare your grocery list
As the saying goes… ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail!’ In this case, it’s the damn truth!
My planning process consists of identifying 2-3 recipes I’ll use to make up the bulk of my protein intake. As a general rule, my meals are nutrient dense, flavorful and required in high volume, meaning I can make a batch to last several days. With this in mind, I write up everything to purchase before I set foot in the grocery store.
While I have a nice cache of go-to recipes already, I do like to turn to cookbooks, the Internet, and Pinterest to find some new things, seeing as I get bored very quickly with the same old foods. Currently my go-to resources for new and delicious recipes include Elana’s Pantry and Paleomg!
My list of staple items:
- Seasonal fruit (apples, grapefruit, pears, berries, etc.)
- Salad mix (and anything else I want to throw in my salad, like tomatoes)
- Bell peppers
- Almond butter
- Sweet potato or yams
- Seasonal vegetables
- Greek yogurt
- Meat (chicken, bacon, beef, pork, turkey, tuna)
Some things you can stock up on, especially meat and eggs. If you find it on sale, load up and freeze it!
Step two: Throw down in the kitchen
Sunday is the best day of the week for me to prep my meals but it can be any day of the week that works for you. If you cook for yourself, 2-3 hours should be sufficient, but plan on a little longer if you’re cooking for a whole family.
Now this is where the fun begins! Throw on some music, break out those ingredients and get to work! Clean your fruits and veggies, chop up the ingredients needed for that recipe and while things are cooking, prep a few salads in Tupperware containers to take with you to work. Prepare your breakfasts and lunches in advance so that all you have to do is grab a container and go on your merry way.
Step three: Cook a staple that you can use in several ways
Recipes aside, there are some things that should just be a staple in your food prep. This includes salads, some kind of breakfast, and meat. Ground beef is the easiest and most versatile to work with. One to two pounds of this great protein source can create:
- Monday: Ground beef and egg hash
- Tuesday: Lettuce wrapped tacos
- Wednesday: Meatballs
- Thursday: Mexican salad
- Friday: Beef patties
The same can be applied with pulled pork cooked in the Crockpot:
- Monday: Pulled pork omelet
- Tuesday: Pulled pork salad
- Wednesday: Pulled pork chili
- Thursday: Pulled pork sandwich
- Friday: Pulled pork with a side of veggies
See what I did here? I took one ingredient and turned it into several meals! It keeps things interesting and flavorful. You can do the same thing with chicken, turkey or whatever favorite cut of meat you’ve got in your fridge.
Step four: Pack that sh*t up!
Meal prep without Tupperware is like having Christmas without Santa Claus. You just don’t do it!
Organize your breakfasts, lunches and dinners into containers if you plan to grab and go during these meal times. Everything else must be organized in containers just to make your life easier. When I drag myself home from work I pull out my dinner items onto a dish, add a dose of radiation (aka Microwave) and I’m eating dinner in five minutes. It takes me longer to feed my dog!
All in all, meal preparation is the cornerstone of healthy eating and a toned body. When we’re short on time it’s a lot easier to buy takeout than cook a meal, and that’s the small difference that can make a significant dent in your physique. Some weeks I find the whole thing feels like a chore but I know that the careful planning and prep work puts me in the best position to stay in shape and manage my energy during the hectic workweek.
Do you prepare your meals? Comment below on your favorite recipes, tips or questions!