Meal Prep 101: A Beginner's Guide
If you’re interested in less hectic meal times and optimizing your fitness gains, meal prepping is a handy approach for you.
When it comes to achieving your fitness goals, it’s no secret that proper diet is just as important as your workout routine. In order to maximize all the hard work, sweat and gains in the gym, organizing your caloric and nutrition intake is a great starting point. Meal prepping is one of the hottest food trends that’s also made waves in the fitness world as a great way to save time, money and waste. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to be a complicated and lengthy process. If you’re thinking about taking charge of your own weekly eating through meal prepping, let us show you how easy it can be! Here we’ve compiled a beginner’s guide to meal prep and a few fundamentals to get you off the ground and running.
What is Meal Prepping?
Meal prepping is simply the act of, well, preparing your meals ahead of time, then portioning them out to create grab-and-go meals for later. This requires dedicating a block of time to batch-cook ingredients or preparing full meals ahead of time to make feeding yourself easier each day. It can be as simple as stocking up on your favorite pre-workout foods to save time in the morning or as comprehensive as using full recipes to individually portion your lunches for the week to monitor your nutrition intake. This technique can apply to virtually everything: breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks.
Why Should I Meal Prep?
Meal prepping is a convenient and efficient tool for everyday life as it allows you to significantly cut down on preparation time for every meal. When cooking every single day is out of the question, meal prepping can still allow you to eat home-cooked meals without having to dedicate precious time. In turn, this makes it a whole lot easier to eat healthier as we’re far more likely to make poor food choices in the moment when we’re running late or tired after a long day of work. Not only does it allow you to ensure you’re getting the proper nutrition, but it reduces the temptation to eat outside of your plan (diet and budget). With meal prepping, all the work has already been done. You just need to eat!
Find What Works For You
There are a number of different ways one can go about meal prepping, your initial focus should be on finding exactly what works for you. Meal prepping is a useful health tool that can be built around your schedule, diet and fitness goals, cooking style and lifestyle preferences. While the most common technique is to prepare and cook individually portioned meals so that they’re ready to go at your convenience, this may not be the ideal route for you. If you prefer to cook meals right before you eat them, for example, try prepping the ingredients in advance to significantly cut down on kitchen time and organize your consumption. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits all. The important thing is that you find your own routine and what works for you.
Keep It Simple
The best advice anybody can give you at first is to start small. If you’re new to cooking, keeping it simple will undoubtedly help you to stay on track, at least for the first little while. Even if you’re an experienced cook, begin with a single meal prep that you’re comfortable with instead of a new healthy one that requires two or three recipes to complete. A good place to start with a meal is to ensure a source of protein, starch and veggies. While you might be enthusiastic to incorporate the change into your life right away, stick to what you know at first and gradually add as you become more and more comfortable. In addition to full-blown meals, don’t forget about the simple servings in your diet such as fruit or even smoothies, which bring the same great benefits of big meals in advance.
Organization is Key
Organization and planning goes a long way when it comes to meal prep. You can start by choosing a day of the week to prepare your meals. Many choose Sunday because it’s generally a free day off work and most commitments. Another popular technique is Sunday and Wednesday because it splits the load into two separate days and allows you to switch up the recipes, so you won’t get bored of eating the same thing for an entire week. In scheduling your meal prep, another great way to stay organized is to choose specific recipes and take stock in advance to make grocery shopping a lot easier. Investing in proper containers is also a good idea. Quality containers will not only allow you to divide the food into proper portions and sections, but also feature air tight seals for crisper, fresher tasting meals. After all, you still want to enjoy the food!