Meal Prep Made Easy: 3 Brilliant Tricks to Eat Better
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -Benjamin Franklin
Are you looking to save time and money?
Reduce stress around meal time?
Improve your eating to support weight loss?
It all starts with preparation!
You see, having your meals and snacks prepared in advance helps keep you in control, so you can be more successful in reaching your nutrition goals. We’ve all been there: when food choices were defaulted for convenience or, worse, emotion, and we grab the closest food around. Good nutrition practices be damned, regardless of our fitness goals or providing the essential nutrients our bodies need to survive.
Yet by preparing in advance, you are more accountable for your food choices, ensuring you have healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks on hand, and removing mindless eating that often occurs with today’s fast-paced, stress-filled lifestyle.
Not only that, but you are freeing up a tremendous amount of valuable time during the week to fit in that workout, spend quality time with family and friends, or enjoy a moment to yourself to practice meditation or deep breathing exercises.
3 Easy Meal Prep Tricks
Fun fact: Tupperware® was named as one of the top 10 greatest inventions of the 20th Century. That comes as no surprise to us; they are the perfect containers for keeping your meals fresh throughout the week, as their lids are created to expel air to help delay foods from spoiling. And, they make it super easy to take your healthy meal with you.
For a first-time meal prepper, it is best to keep things simple as you prepare and pack up your meals. Rather than counting calories, or weighing your ingredients, just use these simple guidelines for protein, carbs, and fats, which can be customized for each individual:
- Protein portion—this is the size and thickness of the palm of your hand (or about 20 – 30 grams of protein).
- Carbohydrate portion—about the size of your clenched fist or a cupped handful of acceptable carbohydrates (about 1/2 to 1 cup). *Side note, the individual requirements of carbohydrates are generally in direct proportion to activity levels.
- Portion of fat—the size and thickness of the tip of your thumb.
- Vegetables—For vegetables, add at least 1 – 2 fistfuls (yet for most vegetables, there’s no limit).
The reason “hand-based” portion sizes work so well is they are relative to the size of the individual. Smaller people with smaller hands will eat less food because they require fewer calories. Similarly, larger people with resultantly bigger hands will eat more food because they require more calories.
Once you learn how to determine your proper portion sizes, you will become more mindful of these tools when dining out at your favorite restaurant.
Over the last twenty years, the American diet has changed dramatically in terms of the quantity of food we consume. In 1970, Americans consumed an average of 2,160 calories per day. Today, it has increased to 2,673 daily calories per person. That’s 20 to 25 percent more calories than we ate in 1970!
Some of us have good intentions when loading up our grocery carts with lean proteins, smart carbs, and healthy fats, yet we end up tossing them in the garbage at the end of the week because we were too tired to cook, and instead, fell victim to the takeout trap. Trust me—been there, done that.
Others do fairly well with their food choices with most meals but fall short with one meal in particular each day.
If you fall into either of these categories, you can start off by preparing one meal each day to see how that goes, and gradually ease into more meals. For example, if you find that lunch is often a struggle with willpower, and it’s too easy to reach for something unhealthy, make this your prepped meal.
One Day for One Week
I’ve found it easiest to pick one day a week to do all my meal prep for the week. I’ve had the best luck with Sunday being my meal prep day. On this day, I ensure all of my tasks are done before the hustle and bustle of the work week, so it makes sense I would prepare my meals, too.
I begin by making my grocery list and purchase what I need to make all my breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for the entire week. This takes the guesswork out of what I am going to eat. It usually takes only one to two hours and is completely worth every minute of it as I save so much time the rest of the week. As a bonus, it also saves on my electric bill from standing at an open fridge several times a day staring aimlessly at ingredients debating what to cook.
Truth be told, the main reason I take preparation so seriously is because if I didn’t, I might… no… make that, I would graze throughout the day. And I can guarantee that if I have only five minutes between tasks to grab something to munch on, I will reach for the easiest and quickest thing.
So having celery, broccoli, or any type of fruit or vegetable pre-washed and cut into bite-sized pieces allows me to have healthy options available for snacking in between meals, as well. This also eliminates any excuses, as I can just as easily grab a bag of veggies as a bag of chips, pretzels, or *gasp* a cookie.
The meal prep you see below is what I’m currently eating this week. My breakfast is a BioTrust® Low Carb protein shake. For lunch and dinner, I used my vegetti to make zoodles (zucchini ribbons) with diced tomatoes and roasted chicken. I saved some of the roasted chicken and added steamed broccoli with quinoa and black beans as a side.
I hope this serves as inspiration for you to do weekly meal prep. And if meal prep is already part of your success formula, let us know in the comments below what some of your favorite meal prep rituals are.