Meal Preparation 101: It's Easy If You Do It Smart
Have you been trying and failing to diet or make healthier choices? Getting off track is easy when it’s lunchtime at the office and there are tempting options or you get home after a long day and just want to order in.
You might feel that there is just not enough time in your schedule to make the changes that go along with following a diet plan or just eating healthier.
The problem is that to make effective change, you need to plan ahead! You have to be strict with yourself. This applies not only to your will power but also to how you prep your day-to-day menu.
The answer to this problem is meal prep! Planning your meals and treats for the full day will eliminate bad decisions from making a quick lunch pick and help you feel less overwhelmed when it comes to making a good dinner.
Although this is a lifestyle change, it will positively influence your abilities to stick to your goals!
"Be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods.”
How to Prepare
The best way to get started is to keep a notebook dedicated to your meal planning. There are also online resources for outlines of meal plan journals that you can download/print for your needs.
You can choose to plan for the entire month or take it one week at a time, although it might be best to start with a week to week plan so you can see what works best for you! Meal prep is all about looking ahead and planning accordingly around your schedule and the time you have. Write down all your events for the week, such as practices, family dates, etc.
This will show you how much time you have to spend actually cooking and allow you to pick meals accordingly, especially for dinner.
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The goal of this journal is to plan all your meals for each day, including your allowed snacks. Nothing is left open for chance, forcing you to stick with your plan! You can also make your shopping lists based on what you have selected for each day. Planning for the week also means that you should be preparing your food ahead of time. Depending on your schedule, this could mean you dedicate one or two nights of the week to get everything together and then freeze or refrigerate accordingly.
This will save you significant time throughout the week; as for the majority of the days, all you have to do is the basic preparation! So chop those celery sticks and marinate the chicken breast for later in the week!
Tip #1: From this point on, you’ll be using a lot of containers for both storage and taking meals to work. Purchasing a set of meal prep containers is a good idea to keep you motivated and make getting everything organized easy for you. Mason jars are also a great alternative! Obtaining the proper tools for success will help make the task less daunting, bringing you toward your goal. Tip #2: When preparing a meal, be sure to add an item from each category: protein, vegetable, healthy fats, carbs. Eating a balanced combination will help you to feel full and maintain good energy throughout the day. Tip #3: If you are sticking to lean meats like chicken, don’t bore yourself with the same flavours! You can be time-sensitive by preparing two or three variations of chicken at once by using aluminum foil dividers in your pan. Tip #4: Enjoy eggs? To get a perfect dozen-hardboiled egg at one time, bake your eggs in muffin tins for 30 minutes. Tip #5: Save time in the morning by blending your favourite smoothie ingredients and then freeze the mixture in muffin tins. Next time you want a shake/smoothie, all you need to do is toss two to three “cups” into the blender! Tip #6: Prepare your vegetables for the week ahead of time! Cut your veggies in bulk and seal in a plastic bag or container. Then when you are putting together your to-go lunches or dinners, they are easily accessible to you. Tip #7: Roast vegetables with the same cooking times at the same time. Vegetables that can go in the same pan are as follows: Slow-roasting vegetables include carrots, cauliflower, onions, potatoes and parsnips; Fast-roasting vegetables include asparagus, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Tip #8: Portion out your snacks. If you are munching on pretzels or nuts it’s easy to over-indulge if you are eating straight out of the bag. Pre-portion out your snacks into bags so you know that you are eating just enough. Tip #9: Customize your own healthy oatmeal jars for a great breakfast or lunch. A lot of pre-made oatmeal packages have added sugar and unnatural preservatives. Use mason jars to control exactly what and how much you are eating. The fun part is you can add the fruits and nuts of your choice, or even add a sprinkle of chocolate chips! You can use the same idea with salads! Tip #10: Kabobs don’t just have to be quick street foods! Weighing your proteins and putting it on a skewer can help you control how much you are eating in one sitting. It also makes it a mindless dinner to cook when they are already prepared! Reminder, if you are using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water first so they won’t catch fire on the grill or oven.
Your motivator for sticking to a meal prep system should be the knowledge that you are saving so much time by only having to dedicate one or two nights a week to feed yourself for the whole week! Having all your meals organized, pre-prepared, and healthy will help you to stick to your goals!
"Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you."
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