For some people, planning weekly meals is as simple as making a list, buying the ingredients and setting aside time to turn their meal plan into a weekly reality. For others, the daunting task of meal prep is too much to grip, leaving the decision of what you’re going to eat up to your future hungry self. The problem is that people often wait until their body is in starvation mode to choose what they are going to feed themselves, possibly resulting in choosing high caloric foods and larger than necessary portion sizes as you’re lead to think with your stomach’s cry for help rather than your brain.
Think about it like this – have you ever gone grocery shopping hungry? What are the chances your cart quickly became filled with more tempting than usual high-calorie foods that maybe you normally wouldn’t purchase. Research has proven that even short-term food deprivation can lead to a shift in choices, potentially sabotaging fitness goals.
The solution? Meal prep! Don’t leave the fate of achieving your fitness goals up to your stomach and instead plan ahead. Everyone is different and need to discover what works best for their individual bodies. But for the majority, eating 3 regular meals a day in addition to a few snacks is the norm.
There are three methods to planning your meals:
1. Preparing weekly meals all in one day. If you work a regular Monday to Friday job, Sunday is the best day to meal prep for the week. This method oftentimes involves making a big breakfast, lunch and dinner that will last you all week. All the thinking and choosing is taken out of eating, making it effortless to reach your goals.
2. Preparing daily meals the night before. You’ll be able to make use of last night’s dinner leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, and continue that pattern throughout the week.
3. The rotating menu is the best method for those looking to add a little choice into their meal prep. This method involves planning out roughly 10-20 meals to have throughout the week, allowing you to choose which you’d like to have day by day according to your preference.
To make meal prep less daunting, make big batches of easily adaptable healthy grains and protein sources. Nutritious foods such as hard boiled eggs and quinoa can be adapted to work with your breakfast, lunch or dinner in salads, side dishes or snacks.
If preparing big meals to last all week is what suits your lifestyle, get creative with different spices and condiments to mix up the flavour. For example, make a big batch of chicken breasts one night, topping a few with salsa, others with tomato sauce and parmesan, and others with hummus, spinach, and feta to create different flavours.
For those that live the rotating menu lifestyle, prepare all the pesky time consuming ingredients at the beginning of the week to save yourself time later. Wash and chop all your vegetable ingredients to simplify the process. Meal prep is the true key to fitness success. Not only will it save you time and money, but it will also curb poor eating habits.