More than any other factor, it’s the quality of your food choices that determine the amount of success you will have with any health-related goal. Whether you’re looking to lose excess body fat, recover from an injury, gain strength, improve athletic performance, manage or reverse disease, or simply look, feel, and move better, your nutrition is what matters most. The key is making healthy meal prep as easy as possible.
But let’s be honest here: life kinda gets in the way sometimes, doesn’t it? Even for the most disciplined among us, we’ve all had moments where we feel forced to make a less-than-ideal food choice that, if done repeatedly, could seriously derail our efforts in the gym.
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So whether you’ve got a busy week ahead of you, if you’re traveling, or if you’re simply looking for a better way to make eating right easy, then it’s time you familiarize yourself with the wonders of healthy meal prep.
Why Healthy Meal Prep, Anyway?
Prepping a majority of your meals ahead of time does a lot more for you than you may think.
Save money by buying in bulk. It’s easy and affordable to get even organic and wholesome foods in bulk these days.
Mitigate “moments of weakness.” By joining the bagged-lunch club, you’ll always have a tasty, good-for-you dining option available–so you’ll be less likely to “crack” and go for the less healthy foods or snacks–which are super tempting when you’re stressed, tired, or hungry.
Learn about portion size and cooking! Prepping meals is a great way for you and the whole family to start caring about how to cook delicious, healthy meals at home.
5 Ways To Make Healthy Meal Prep As Easy As It Is Healthy (And Tasty!)
- Designate a meal prep day. Invest a few hours (many people choose Sunday afternoons) to do the bulk of the cooking. This saves you lots of mini-trips to the grocery store (where you should always bring a grocery list, to avoid impulse buys). It also allows you to make big batches for easy divvying up.
- When it comes to ingredients, stick to high quality and low quantity. Unless you’re a professional chef, you shouldn’t expect yourself to follow a complicated 20-step recipe. Stick with 2 to 3 “staple” meals that have a few ingredients, herbs, and spices. Think: slow-cooker Paleo chili, stir-fry veggies, and ground turkey, scrambled egg “muffin” cups, or anything else that’s simple and tastes good (to you!).
- Focus on preparing 1 or 2 of your main weekly meals, but not all 3. For instance, make a bunch of breakfast and lunch meals, and leave dinner up to the day-to-day concoction. Why does this matter? The simple reason is that trying to do too much can overwhelm you, frustrate you, and make you want to give up on the entire process altogether. Instead, by bulk prepping for just 1 or 2 meals–enough that will last you at least 3-5 days, depending on how long the food keeps–you’ll be able to spend less time during meal prep while still setting yourself up for success. Eating prepared meals will also motivate you to continue making healthy choices at your non-planned meals.
- Cook multiple things at once. Don’t be afraid to get the oven and the range going at the same time! For instance, it’s relatively easy to hard boil a dozen eggs while also roasting veggies and sautéeing meat. If a cooking recipe calls for two different oven temps, you can usually get away with using the average between the two (e.g., using 375 degrees if one recipe calls for 350 and the other calls for 400). Just be sure to keep an eye on your food, and consider purchasing a quality meat thermometer.
- Get some good containers. Food storage containers are as important as any other kitchen tool. Where else and how else will you store all your delicious food? Choose storage containers (ideally clear glass or stainless steel) that stack and pack easily to make the grab-and-go seamless.
Got any awesome healthy meal prep ideas that amp up your nutrition game? Share in the comments below!