Oh, you prep all your food on Sunday for the week? I don’t think I have time for that. How do you even know what you’re going to want to eat that day? I hate eating the same thing day after day.
Meal prepping can be a daunting concept. Planning, buying groceries, and cooking meals for an entire week is no small feat. But, this week, I’m going to share with you a few of my favorite tips, meal ideas, and foods to help you make the transition just a little easier.
Throughout the article, I’m going to approach it from a macros perspective, since that’s typically how I plan my meals. I’ve calculated my macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) that I should have each day. Then, I plan foods to fit within them, as well as my calorie goal. It’s important to note that you don’t have to count macros if you don’t want! It’s entirely possible to make progress toward a fitness goal without counting and weighing and tracking every gram of food. Simply choose foods you know are inherently more nutrient dense and less processed about 80% of the time. Leave the other 20% for those foods that are less nutrient dense and more processed.
Tip #1: Plan Early
Start with the meal planning on Wednesday or Thursday of the week before. By taking just a few minutes of the course of a couple days, you’ll be able to choose which combinations you want to make (more on this later) and make sure the all fit into what you ideally want to eat for that day.
To begin planning, I usually start with one meal or food that I know I want to eat. Let’s use tacos for example. If I know I want to make fish tacos for dinner, I’ll make sure I have all of those ingredients accounted for first: tortillas, fish, veggies, salsa, etc. Then, based on the macronutrients I have left, I’ll choose what else I want to make for the week.
Tip #2: Keep it Simple
For the majority of your meals, keep it simple. This is especially true in the beginning. Then, as you get in the habit, begin incorporating more complex meal ideas and new recipes.
If you want to add in a few more “complicated” recipes, I like starting with ones such as tacos. With the separate ingredients, it’s easier to track what you’re eating as opposed to something like lasagna where it’s typically made in a large pan and you portion out a mix of all ingredients for the meal. Of course, after you get through the first couple of weeks, it’s likely you’ll feel comfortable incorporating these “mixed” foods. But, to start, I would recommend keeping it extra simple.
Tip #3: Give Yourself Options
Scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram, it’s common to see identical meals stacked row by row laid out for the entire week. This limits you to what you can eat. Most weeks, I prep slightly different. I group my foods by protein, carbohydrate, and veggies. Then, for each meal, I choose some of each and combine it. This way, the combinations are endless!
Sample Food Options
Protein: chicken breast, ground beef, chicken thigh, tuna, egg whites
Carbohydrate: sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice, Banza pasta
Veggies: zucchini, peppers (red, yellow, orange), brussel sprouts, broccoli
To form meals, I’ll choose a protein and carb to combine with some veggies. Of course, these are some of my go-to options, but it can be altered based on preference or dietary restrictions. If you’re not sure what the major source of macronutrients is, check out the helpful graphic below for a quick-reference.
By prepping your meals ahead of time and having nutrient dense options available, you can pick and choose to piece together a meal without the hassle of having to cook every day. Even better, you’re able to mix and match when an unexpected event comes up. Coworkers invited you out for drinks? Keep the carbohydrates lower throughout the day and focus on larger portions of veggies and lean proteins.
Meal prepping, although daunting at first, is a learned skill. Even more than the right program in the gym, fine-tuning and perfecting the diet that’s best for you will allow you to reach progress toward you goals in ways you may have never thought possible. If you’re looking to get into the world of meal prepping and cutting down the cooking during the week, give these tips a try!
Do you prep your meals? What are some of your favorite foods to grab-and-go? Have you used any of these tips? Do you have questions about meal prepping that I didn’t answer? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @emily_meyer13!
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