What exactly is meal prep and why is it important? Essentially, meal prep is preparing your weekly meals in advance. When it comes to your nutrition, a little planning goes a long way. If planning your meals ahead of time stresses you out, don't worry! I will lay out some simple tips and tricks that will help you save time and stress less during the week.
Meal prep benefits
Saves time: The thought of spending an hour planning your meals for the week probably sounds like a waste of time to many people, but having everything planned and ready to go will save you the time and energy it takes to figure out what you're going to eat, go to the store, then cook. Preparing ahead of your busy week will save you trips to the grocery store and thinking about what's for dinner all day.
Saves money: When you meal prep for the week, your grocery trips will become more focused and you will do less impulse buying. It will also save money you would have spent ordering your lunch on Uber Eats or grabbing fast food on your way to a meeting.
Ensures healthier eating: When you plan your meals, you are in more control of what you are putting into your body. Although you don't have to cook every meal, cooking the majority of your meals will save you a lot of hidden calories and allow you to pick and choose the ingredients you're comfortable with.
How to plan your weekly meals
1. Make a menu. Decide which meals you would like for lunch and dinner and make a grocery list. Look at recipes online for inspiration and try to use items you already have to save money.
2. Plan on eating leftovers. The easiest way to have a lunch prepared is to use leftovers from dinner. Make a slightly bigger portion for dinner and put the excess in Tupperware. This way it will already be pre-portioned and you can grab it and go.
3. Focus on addition not elimination. The biggest struggle with transitioning to a healthier diet is the idea of not being "allowed" to eat your favorite foods anymore. Instead of looking at what you can remove from your diet, focus on adding healthier foods. Each meal should have a source of protein. This can be meat, eggs, tofu, etc. Also, try adding fruit to at least one meal and a vegetable to at least two meals.
4. Leave room for what you love. It is important to allow yourself to enjoy life. If you cut out all your favorite foods in hopes of losing weight, you will end up craving them and eating more than you would have if you'd let yourself eat what you want in the first place. Give yourself two nights each week to go out, order in, or have a treat. If you're really wanting some chocolate, have the chocolate. The point is to be healthy not only physically, but mentally. It's all about balance.
Meal prep and meal planning can be a great addition to your life and a small step forward to reaching your goals. Just remember to keep it simple, and that life is all about balance! If you're looking for a little extra help, a nutrition coach could be a great option for you!