Often we know what is healthy and what we should eat, but when it comes down to it, what ever is convenient and accessible can often override this knowledge. Therefore, preparing food in advance has many advantages.
There are many ways to ‘meal prep’, and it really comes down to you and your lifestyle. Trial and error is a great way to see what will work for you. However, here are a few of the basics which, when utilised, can be the difference between hitting your nutrition goals or not.
1. Block out a few hours in your week for meal preparation. To be honest, not many people love meal preparation, but this is such an important first step. Write it in your calendar. Block out a few hours once a week (say Sunday 4 pm – 7 pm). Make a plan to do it.
2. Have a rough idea what you will be making. There is no point making two weeks worth of food if it’s going to go off in a few days. Be realistic. If you are cooking for yourself, you might make 2 batches of ‘snacks’ for morning and afternoon tea (let’s say the carrot cake muffins from the challenge meal plan and the homemade nutella balls), and also 1-2 main meals (for example; Thai green curry and the Dahl – from the challenge meal plan). Write down what you’ll be having before going to the supermarket (and the ingredients) to make it easier for you. That way you’re less likely to purchase either too much food or food that isn’t from your nutrition plan.
3. Think about some little time-savers, which can make your life more efficient. Do you like to have a smoothie for breakfast? You could package the portions of ingredients in little freezer bags and each morning you can just add the milk before blending. You could pre-weigh portions of protein powder into containers or bags to put in your bag for work. You could easily portion up mixed nuts or weigh out your oats for the morning. These little things daily can add up.
4. Always carry a snack with you. Have you ever had something unexpected happen to you and you find yourself a few hours behind plan. Maybe you planned to make dinner at home but you find yourself at a work meeting that has run well overtime. You know you should wait until you get home, but that instant instinct of needing food now, can override this. You might grab a sandwich from the cafeteria across the road, which may not be suited to your nutrition plan. There are some great, easy snacks in the challenge meal plan that you can carry with you or have someone easily accessible (gym bag, car console). Mixed nuts, a homemade granola mix, chia seed puddings, the Emma and Tom’s Fruit Bars, perfect to have on hand.
These are some simple tips, when executed correctly, form the basis of your meal prep. Put simply, meal preparation is helping you make the best choice when the motivation isn’t there. If it’s done, ready, accessible, then half the hard work is done. For further meal preparation information, check out the Fitstop Refine You Challenge Education Portal.