Meal prepping. Anybody else picture some crazy jacked body builder measuring 2 smells of boiled chicken and a gallon of water? Yeah. Well, guess what, that’s not what it’s about. Meal prepping is just a very simple and logical way to help you in your crazy busy life not only save time and actually save money, but have real food meals and snacks prepped and ready to go.
You’re probably thinking you don’t have time to meal prep, right? Well, might I be so bold as to say you don’t have time to NOT meal prep? Who wants to come home from the 8-5 grind everyday and cook?
Which is why having good meals prepped ahead of time will not only help you be more sane, but it will help you reach your fitness goals faster because you’re eating real food.
Let’s debunk some myths about meal prepping- there’s only 2 so hang with me:
- Myth 1- Meal prepping has to be done a month at a time and you must do all meals. That is incorrect. The beauty of meal prepping is that you can do as many meals as you’d like at a time or as few as you’d like at a time. We’ll talk in a minute about my recommendations of how and what to do regarding amount to do at a time.
- Myth 2- Meal prepping is only for when you lose weight. Also incorrect! Meal prepping can simply keep you a sane person by getting meals ready ahead of time.
Those are the two big ones that I hear often. That said, put those myths out of your mind and let’s get into what you really came here for today. How you can become the MacGyver of meal prepping.
Meal Prep Like a Champ Step 1 – Decide Which Meals You Will Be Prepping
Here’s what I mean by that- make the decision of if you will be prepping only lunches, lunch and dinner, only dinners, breakfast lunch and dinner… I think you get my point. What will make your life easiest without getting overwhelmed at the process. My recommendation? If you’re a working gal, I would start with lunches and/or lunches and dinners depending on how ambitious you’re feeling.
Keep your breakfast simple with a protein smoothie and a mid morning snack. Then fix your lunches and dinners for the week over the weekend. Once you’re comfortable with weekly meal prepping, then you might be able to bump it up to monthly meal prepping, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. That’s my personal recommendation but you know your schedule best and can make that decision. These leads me into step two…
Meal Prep Like a Champ Step 2 – Plan your Meals
Once you have decided which meals you will be prepping, you can then plan what you will be eating. I recommend that you don’t just make it up in your head, I recommend that you grab a planner and decide what you will be eating for the week before you ever go to the grocery store. Don’t just write it down on a piece of paper. Grab a planner and I’m not talking about your phone, I’m talking about an old school planner that you can write it down and see it in front of you.
Here’s one on Amazon that I really like. It’s not expensive and you have a calendar plus places for notes. Click the picture below to head over there and grab it. Another option is a dry erase board which you can also grab on Amazon, but I prefer the below because you can go back and look and see what you’ve done over the past several months and see what has worked and what hasn’t!
As you’re planning your meals, decide if you’re going to be doing individual serving sizes or family sizes. If you’re getting meals ready for yourself, I really don’t recommend the family sizes because you will probably end up wasting a lot of food. If you’re prepping for a family, you have to make the decision on if you’re going to do the large sizes to possibly save on cost, or if you’re going to do individual sizes for a bit of convenience sake. This leads me into step 3!
Meal Prep Like a Champ Step 3 – Grab the Right Storage Containers
With meal prepping you must have the right storage containers or you will make a lot of food and the have nowhere to put it! Confession-having the right amount of containers never entered my mind until I had a weeks worth of food made and I didn’t have enough of the right size storage containers. Yay, me! That said, my mistake can save you from the heartache of wrapping your food in plastic wrap. If you plan to do individual sizes, take a look at these bad girls on Amazon they’re BPA free, dishwasher safe, and all that good stuff.
Next thing I would grab if you don’t have it already are some baking dishes that have lids. This is especially true if you’re cooking for a family! Makes for easy clean storage and can be thrown in the dishwasher. I love Pyrex! They come in several different piece sizes (8 pieces all the way up to 28!) so choose your medicine!
Meal Prep Like a Champ Step 4 – Choose Your Day to Prep and Go to the Store
Because cooking can take some time (that’s why we’re having this discussion in the first place!) you need to choose a day that works for you and your schedule to cook your meals for the week. For some people, that is Sunday afternoon and others that maybe Wednesday night! Everybody’s schedule is different so think about yours and what works best for you. Keep in mind that it maybe different every week depending on what you’ve got on the string. That’s totally okay! Don’t stress and, again, work with your schedule not against it. I do recommend going to the store the same day that you cook simply because you can get it all knocked out at once.
While meal prepping can seem like a daunting task, it really doesn’t have to be when you have a plan. I’ll be honest, when I first started meal prepping it took me forever, I’m talking like 5 hours. Yikes, right? Well, it was because I wasn’t planning things out and planning what I was going to do, I was just jumping in head first and expecting it to be done in an hour.
While meal prepping will take you more than an hour, it definitely shouldn’t take you five hours. Plus! The more that you meal prep, the more that you will get the hang of it and you will get faster and you will figure out what works best for you.
One more thing to say about meal prepping. While I know that other fitness sites you visit talk about measuring every single thing and counting nuts, etc. Here is my not so humble and brutally honest opinion.
Unless you are a CrossFit Games athlete or you’re training to go to the Olympics there really isn’t any reason to measure your food down to the gram. Eat your meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, etc. eat real food when you’re hungry and eat slow and purposeful. Smaller portions, more often.
Yes, it really is that simple. While I’m no dietitian, what I can tell you is this: real food, will change your life and can make or break your fitness routine. Real food is the fuel for our bodies.
You are what you eat right? Don’t make it cheap or fake!
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