You’ve heard me say it so many times before. You must have a plan – a ‘how’. Sure you can come up with a goal because identifying what you want is easy, but figuring out how you’re going to get it takes some strategizing, and this is really true for any goal you set in life; weight loss related or otherwise.
Meal prepping is a plan for your nutritional needs that will ultimately assist you in attaining a certain result, one way or the other. If you are working on building muscle, you will need to start thinking about adding more complex carbohydrates into your diet to sustain heavier lifting. If you want to drop weight, you’ll want to cut back on the carbs and focus on increasing protein. Having your meals already prepared for the week ahead not only takes the chaos out of your week, but it prevents you from making split decisions that may get you off plan later.
There is a strategy for everything, and planning your road to success almost guarantees the success itself. So how do you get started?
Think about your circumstance and your environment.
Where do you work?
Do you have scheduled lunch/break times?
Access to a microwave?
Do you travel a lot?
These are all things to consider when you start planning the kind of food you’ll be prepping. If you’ll be in a car or on an airplane half of the week for work then perishables might not work very well for you. Take a few minutes to decide what is going to fit your work style and your lifestyle, and then do some research.
There are hundreds of meal planning resources on the Internet. You can YouTube ‘meal prep’ and find an array of options, from jar salads and easy wraps, to re-heatable options like turkey chili or overnight oats. Decide what you’d like to eat, and then create your menu for the week.
My weekly menu might look like this:
Breakfast: Chocolate and PB overnight oats
Snack: Nonfat Greek yogurt w/ honey & fresh fruit
Lunch: Chicken curry with roasted veggies
Snack: Protein shake with jerky
Dinner: Grilled honey/soy salmon with pineapple citrus salad and roasted carrots/parsnip
Evening Snack: Homemade PBFit cups
So now I know what I need to buy and what I’m prepping. If you follow the menu above to get you started, make sure you’re tracking the weight/measurements of your food while you’re prepping so you know the caloric info for each serving. You can do this by creating a manual recipe in MyFitnessPal. It will allow you to name your recipe and scan/enter all your ingredients, and then it’ll break down the nutritional value of your recipe per serving. It will save this to your database so you can easily enter your meals throughout the week and keep track, and have the recipe on hand for the future.
The first meal prep I did was a mess. My kitchen looked explosive afterward, but you will quickly become proficient in the art of meal prepping!
1. Make sure you have good containers – I have 3-compartments containers I ordered from Amazon that are great and microwavable. I also have soup containers and some larger one-pot containers for salads.
2. Make sure you prep something that will last 4-5 days at a time – don’t forget you can likely freeze a couple of meals too!
3. Make sure you have room in your fridge/freezer to store all the food!
4. Pack your meal bag the night before so you can grab and go in the morning.
Start by prepping your chicken and let that bake in the oven while you do everything else. You can add an array of seasonings to your chicken, or even coat it in a light sauce if you like. Baking chicken in a closed foil pouch in your oven will keep it nice and moist!
Your overnight oats should be easy – grab your jars and add in your portion of steel cut oats. Add in some egg whites, some nut milk, and a half serving of vanilla protein powder. This is your base. Now you can add any toppings you like – shredded carrots, brown sugar & cinnamon for carrot cake oats. Or a tablespoon of powdered peanut butter and some mini chocolate chips for something a little more indulgent.
This should help get you started. Remember to choose a meal plan that you are going to love! You want foods you find delicious, just like everyone else. But also make sure that at the end of the day all of your meals are below your daily calorie goal. And don’t forget to drink at least 64 oz of water!