What Is Meal Prepping?
While the concept as a whole might seem somewhat self-explanatory, meal prepping is an intricate and typically well-thought-out process. Meal prep days are usually done one day a week - preferably on Saturday or Sunday due to time constraints - and involve making some or all of your meals for the week. Taking a few hours out of your weekend to prepare these meals makes it easy to control your portions, cravings, and ultimately helps you make healthier eating decisions. Whether you’re trying to bulk up, slim down, or simply maintain, a weekly meal prep day will absolutely help you attain your goals on a daily basis.
How Do I Start?
First things first, you need to decide what exactly your goals are, and what type of diet will help you achieve them. Once that information is quantified the process begins to get a little more complex. You now have to scour the internet, cookbooks, or wherever else and find an assortment of recipes that are both healthy, and (hopefully) delicious.
Personally, I like to use the recipes as somewhat of a guideline; once I have found something I really like I will introduce it to other meal combinations, which helps the meals from getting too boring or repetitive. Fundamentally, the main objective for meal prepping is to make dishes that support your healthy lifestyle, but it’s equally important that you enjoy them!
Once you’ve outlined your goals, found your recipes, and purchased the food, it’s time to start cooking. Personally, I like to keep it simple and focus on the incorporation of three major groups into each of my meals: protein, carbs, and vegetables. Examples of some healthy options I frequently include are:
Protein: Chicken Breast, Lean Beef, Turkey Breast, Tuna, Salmon, Hard Boiled Eggs, Beans, Nuts
Carbohydrates: Wild/Brown Rice, Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Whole Grain Products
Vegetables: Cauliflower, Broccoli, Spinach/Kale, Green Beans, Asparagus
Once everything has been chopped, seasoned, grilled etc. It is time to begin portioning each meal into individualized storage containers (Affiliate link). This part is very important, and it is key that you have an accurate understanding of the portion size for each meal in order to actually derive any real benefit from preparing meals in this manner.
If your goal is to stay within a certain macronutrient range using either a generic kitchen scale, or simply using a downloadable phone app like MyFitnessPal can be very helpful in tracking your progress. If you do decide to use a scale however, it is important to remember:
1g of Protein = 4 Calories
1g of Carbohydrates = 4 Calories
1g of Fat = 9 Calories
After everything is put into containers, labeled, and stored in the fridge the job is done! The hard part is over, and now you no longer have to rely on your willpower or energy levels throughout the week in order to stay on your diet. Now, when it's time to eat, you simply have to throw the container in the microwave, sit back, and thank yourself for all the work you did on Sunday. Ultimately, meal prep is about making your life easier, and it should certainly do just that, so give it a shot, and let us know what you think.
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