Food temptation is everywhere. Fast food joints are on every corner. The bakery has been moved to the front of the grocery store so you smell the sweet carbs when you walk in. If you don’t arm yourself with the foods you should eat to stay true to your diet, you are likely to not see the harm in one little cheat meal. That one cheat meal could turn into a full day or week of cheats. Don’t fail. Not only is meal preparation fast and easy, it is cost effective, and it yields guaranteed results as far as your body is concerned (says a wife, mom, natural bodybuilder, educator and freelancer).
Time is a non-issue when you learn to meal prep efficiently.
Remember: Abs are made in the kitchen and muscles are made in the gym. All the hard work you put into your workouts will only show when you couple it with proper nutrition.
Why You Should Meal Prep:
- It’s an effective weight loss tool because you won’t be hitting the fast food chains.
- You’ll save money because it’s cheaper to cook at home than eat out.
- It aids in your mental commitment to your diet because dieting is a mental game.
- Portion control! When you dole it out in advance, you proportion food ahead of time.
- You research healthy meals to prepare thus educating yourself on a nutritious eating lifestyle.
- You save time by only having to cook two or three times per week in bulk.
- Bottom Line: It’s healthy!
How Do I Choose Foods or Meals?
When considering what to prepare for your three main meals, keep this in mind – a protein, a carb, and a fat source. These are the three main macronutrients, or fuels, that your body needs to function properly and to keep your diet well-balanced.
Keep your proteins lean, your carbs clean and your fats natural.
Clean carbs means obtaining them from natural sources like vegetables; limit or eliminate processed carbohydrates. Fats should also be obtained from whole foods. Sugar should be non-existent and salt should be kept to a minimum.
If you are trying to lose weight, low-carbohydrate diets are effective. Low-carb diets have other health benefits as well. Mayo Clinic states, “Low-carb diets may help prevent or improve serious health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.”
Next- keep it simple. You may have to deal with a bit of monotony when it comes to your meals. If you were expecting elegant meals, go ahead and change your mindset now. Finding go-to meals that taste great is not difficult; you just might have to eat the same meal multiple times per week. For variation, make easy change ups. For example: rotate veggies, add a little sliced avocado on top, or sprinkle on some low-fat cheese.
Basic, Whole Foods That Should Be On Your Grocery List:
- Chicken breast
- Ground turkey
- Lean beef or bison
- Sweet potato
- Brown rice
- Other whole grains
- Load up on all the tasty green veggies you can with every meal!
- Peanut butter
- Olive oil
Measuring Meals – Portion Sizes
The best way to measure your food is with a food scale and/or measuring cups. Most people have measuring cups and spoons, but not many have a food scale. Food scales are easy to find and are relatively inexpensive.
The ratio of proteins, carbs, and fats that each person needs is different depending on their body type and fitness goals. The easiest way to figure out your ratios is to use an online calculator: use it to help you determine your portion sizes from each of the macronutrient groups per meal.
Keep in mind that you should be eating five or more small meals per day. You will eat about every 2.5 to 3 hours. This will keep your metabolism cranking. Also, your body won’t be confused as to when it will receive fuel. Skipping meals makes your body store more fat because if does not know when it will get fed again. In addition, your metabolism slows.
Don’t skip meals!!!
Jump Start Your Meal Prep With These Time-Saving Meals And Snacks
Breakfast – Most Important Meal Made Easy
Eggs are easy.
Scramble them; bake them; hard boil them; eat them raw. Okay- raw is for the truly dedicated, but you can’t go wrong with eggs. In fact, some claim they are the perfect food. They only way to improve an egg breakfast is to throw fresh veggies in them. This combination will keep you satiated.
Eggs are an excellent source of natural fat, and they are high in protein, about 6 grams per egg.
A simple way to prepare eggs is by baking them like muffins in cupcake tins. Not only can you make a bunch at a time, you can add tons of fresh veggies, and they are easy to portion out.
One of the best recipes I have used is one from Hurry The Food Up. It takes 25 minutes to bake up a batch of breakfasts. The recipe is hyper-linked at the end of the article.
Lunches And Dinners
It’s Not November, But Let’s Talk Turkey Tacos
If you love tacos, you are in for a treat. You can create a tasty, 8-minute meal with ground turkey. This is one of my own creations that I call Turkey Tacos.
You will need:
- 1lb 7% fat ground turkey
- Freshly made pico de gallo from your local grocery store (I use a black bean and corn variety)
- Low carb tortillas
- Low-fat cheese (optional)
- Brown the ground turkey in a skillet.
- Add the pico de gallo to the turkey once it’s cooked.
- Enjoy on your low-carb tortillas.
For variety, you can change flavor of the pico de gallo each week, add avocado to the tacos, or add low-fat cheese.
Crockpot Simplicity – Let It Cook For You
Tiffany Batsakis, MS, RD, LD is the queen of crockpot meal prep. Batsakis says, “I always tell people that eating healthy and meal planning is a skill, but it’s definitely a skill you can master. An easy way to start is by using the crockpot.”
I have been to her cooking classes to learn how to make the crockpot work for me and save me time. There are so many recipes out there, but she simplified the process. Batsakis says, “Just pick up some of your favorite lean protein, a variety of vegetables, and throw them in there. You can add whatever flavorings and seasonings you like, and 6 to 8 hours later, you have a meal.”
If you are only prepping for yourself, the crockpot will make many, many meals. Batsakis says, “You can prepare a few different kinds of meals that are suitable for the crockpot, put them into Ziploc bags, and freeze them until ready to use.”
The crockpot is going to become your new best friend. If you have more than one, even better! The only time is takes of yours is the time it takes to put the ingredients into the pot.
I’m not kidding when I say to always be prepared. Snacks count!! Put them in your purse; hoard them in your desk; store them in your vehicle. Healthful snacks are easy to find.
- Almonds – plain and raw
- Nut Mixes – stay away from dried fruit
- Protein powder – find a tasty one that you love to replace a sweet snack
- Quest Bars – only one per day when/if you have a sweets attack
- Raw Baby Carrots
- Celery and peanut butter or almond butter
- Beef or turkey jerky
Ultimately, you make choices every day about what you eat. The choices need to be conscientious, pre-planned ones. If you don't man-handle your diet and make the necessary decisions about the foods you consume, your body will stay the same.The ideas I have provided are only the tip of the iceberg. Delicious, nutritious options are everywhere. Meal prep is something positive that you can do for your health and the health of your family. You will save money, time, and get that bangin’ body that you want. You just have to plan ahead.