In order to reach your fat loss goals, you’ll need to prepare for dietary success and have a plan. This means having systems in place so you can make fewer decisions and create an environment to build and maintain your healthy habits.
If you’re in an environment where healthy food is around you, you’re more than likely to eat it. The same goes for the opposite, if you’re surrounded by junk and calorie bombs, then chance are you’re going to be having some. And if you make healthy food for the week, then it’s easier to stick with your diet. This is why meal prep is so important.
Many of my successful clients meal prep ahead of time for the week. This allows them to save time cooking and control just exactly what they’re putting into their bodies. It makes it a lot easier to avoid unhealthy food choices surrounding them in and out of the office.
If you’re not used to meal prepping and mostly just eating from restaurants, food trucks, or whatever your work caters to you, it might be tough at first. But just like learning any new skill, you’ll get good at it eventually with practice and consistency.
For most people, the day to meal prep are on Sundays. Sundays are a great day because many people usually relax and have more time to do meal prep and to map out their upcoming week. With your meal prep, if done right, it should take you about 2-3 hours max depending on how much food you need.
In fitness, what we do has to be efficient and sustainable, otherwise we won’t be able to do it long term. If your meal prep takes too much time, effort, and energy, then chances are you won’t be able to maintain it. So for your meal prep, I advocate cooking easy, simple dishes.
Today I’m going to teach you how to perform the meal prepping process efficiently:
1. Map Out Your Week
Before we head over to the grocery store to buy food, we need to see how your week is looking. Are there going to be any work or social events happening that will get in the way? What dietary challenges will you be facing that you’ll need to prepare for? What kind of foods and how many serving sizes would you need to cook? Figure it out and plan accordingly.
2. Create a General Menu
When it comes to meal prepping, you want to create a simple menu consisting of a lean protein, veggie source, and some healthy starchy carbs. You’re going to be cooking a dish that’s simple, and not fancy. Save the elaborate dishes for a different occasion.
If eating the same thing over and over doesn’t seem fun to you at all, create two separate dishes instead. This breaks up the monotony of eating the same thing over and over and gives you some variety so you can stick with your diet. Your first meal would be considered lunch, and the second one would be your dinner.
As an example, the first meal could be chicken thighs with roasted potatoes. The other meal could be a turkey chili. Both contain lean protein, veggies, and some starchy carbs.
3. Write Out Your List and Start Shopping
Once you’ve figured out what you’ll be making, it’s time to write down all of the ingredients that you’ll need. Create your shopping list and stick with purchasing only the things on it. This will make you spend less time at the supermarket and you won’t be tempted to buy random non-healthy items while browsing around.
I have to admit, over the years I’ve turned into an “efficient but kinda lazy” cook. I own a ton of different cookbooks with fancy dishes and I used to spend a ton of my time making these foods.
But because my time is limited now, I tend to purchase veggies that are already pre-cut and washed and just plain cuts of lean meat, sometimes already seasoned. This saves me so much time in the prepping process and allows me to finish cooking relatively quickly.
While you’re at the grocery store, you can also grab a few items for in case of emergency situations for when you need a backup healthy meal to eat. It can be snacks or replacement meals, but they need to be high in protein. This could be ready prepared salads, some Greek yogurt with fruit, or some hard boiled eggs and overnight oats.
4. Start Prepping and Cooking
Once you’ve purchased all of your ingredients, it’s time to get busy with your cooking. Start washing and chopping your veggies and batch cook your lean protein source. For example, if you’ve got chicken thighs or breasts, season them all and throw it in a baking dish. It takes just as much time to cook one as it is to cook them all at once.
When you’re done with chopping your veggies and starchy carbs, go ahead and cook them all together. You can roast them in an oven like I usually do, steam them, or use them for a soup/stew.
If you’re really pressed for time for cooking, then consider using a slow cooker or Instant Pot. Those appliances have been tremendous time savers for myself and busy clients. Just dump all the ingredients in there, hit a few buttons and you’re all set.
5. Store Them
After you’re doing cooking all of your food, let it cool down and put it in your glass Tupperware containers to throw in the fridge afterwards. Store any extra unused ingredients or food items for later. Boom, your lunches and dinners are all cooked and now you’re ready for the week.
Prepping For Success
Given how busy and hectic life can get for many of us, it’s very easy to get off track with your nutrition. By preparing ahead of time with your meals ready to go, you’re going to be able to stick with your healthy eating habits and reach your fitness goals.
What’s your favorite dish to cook when meal prepping? Let me know in the comments below.