"Fail to plan, plan to fail" is a quote that is heard often around the health and fitness community. Maybe it's a little harsh but when you have goals in mind, you do have to focus to reach them.
Meal times prove to be some of the most difficult times for people to stay focused on those goals. Snacking at a desk, going out to get something for lunch or ordering in for dinner might not always be the best choices.
Meal prepping is a great way to know you have something healthy to eat for your meals all week with no extra hassle when things get busy as the work week rolls in.
What exactly is meal prepping?
Meal prepping is taking a few hours of one day to prepare several different meals to pull out and eat throughout the week. You could make seven different things or just one: the choice is up to you. Meal prepping gives you a "packaged" meal that fits your nutritional goals.
It's too expensive.
Wrong. Meal prepping is cheaper than going out and purchasing food at a restaurant or grocery store each day. In the long run, this will actually save you money! Think about this hypothetical meal of chicken, roasted vegetables and sweet potato.
If you buy:
*1.5 pounds of chicken ($8.00)
*1 head of broccoli/1 head of cauliflower ($5.00) (**tip: frozen veggies work well too and are cheaper ($3.00)
*3 large sweet potatoes ($3.00)
and divide that out among 6 meals, you're looking at about $2.60 per serving ($2.30 if you use frozen veggies). You'll never find lunch at a restaurant for that cheap!
(We'll break down the cost of each meal we prepared in another part of this series)
I can't cook.
Meal prepping isn't about cooking up the fanciest meals, or even cooking at all. The point is to have something ready to go so you don't have to think about it when you're hungry or at the office. Salads of all sorts are really easy, as are making batches of soups, sandwiches/wraps, baked oatmeal or even pasta.
Won't the food go bad if it sits in the fridge?
There are several options when it comes to food freshness. If you are making salad, it might be helpful to only make a few days at a time as opposed to the whole week and leave any toppings that might get soggy/weird (think croutons, raisins and dressing) out of the fridge. If something can be frozen, portion it out, then freeze and pull out one day before it's needed.
I don't know what to make/I'll get bored eating the same thing
These are two legitimate concerns when it comes to meal preparation. Try looking up new recipes to try so you have something to look forward to when you sit down for lunch. Think about some of your favorite unhealthy lunches and try to make them healthy (SkinnyTaste is a great website to look at for healthy recipe ideas!) If you don't like following/making recipes, keep it simple. Not every meal has to be the most exciting thing you've ever eaten.
Getting bored is a common thought even though most of us eat the same thing everyday without even thinking about it. If you think you'll get tired of the same thing, make at least 2 recipes for the week and rotate the meal each day (think Monday: chicken, Tuesday: pasta, Wednesday: chicken). The more options you prepare, the less likely you are to get bored.
Now that all your meal prep questions are answered and you're ready to try it out, check back for Part 2 on how to set yourself up for the week ahead!