Meal-Prep: Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

By Amanda Roland

Over the last decade, meal prepping has become very popular in the health and wellness community. In tandem with a steady exercise routine, meal prepping can help you manage your eating habits, weight and nutrition intake! But just like everything in life, it can take a lot of work and dedication to make sure that you stick with your meal plan and have food prepared when you need it. So, here are a few meal-prep nuggets of wisdom that can help you successfully start your meal prepping journey!

1.Buy Meal Prep Containers in Bulk

If you are going to make food in bulk to eat throughout the week, you will need a place to store all your grub. Making sure you have enough storage containers can be helpful for many reasons. One being the grab-and-go factor. Having your meals individually measured and separated in your fridge means that you can grab a container, throw it in your lunch box and hit the road in the mornings. Also, if your health plan requires you to count macros, pre-measuring and dividing all your food into separate containers can help you save time in the mornings and stick to your macros throughout the day.

To make sure that you always have clean containers on hand, buy them in bulk online! Amazon has countless sets of plastic and glass meal-prep containers that you can buy for under $25. Make sure they are dishwasher safe before you buy them to make your life just a little easier.

2. Mix Up Your Menu

Some people are very turned off by meal prepping because they think that they would have to eat the same thing every day. But the good news is you don’t have
to eat the same thing every day! When you are grocery shopping for your meals, buy two different protein options, two different carbs and a couple of different veggies in smaller quantities. In each of your meal-prep containers, mix and match your proteins and sides to make every day’s meal unique.

3. Work Smarter, Not Harder

If you are worried about the time commitment of designating a whole day to meal prepping, Kelsey Harries, general manager and coach at Go Primal Fitness, has another tip to make meal prepping more manageable.

“I used to meal-prep on Sundays and make the same food for Monday through Friday,” Harris said, “but to be honest, by Wednesday or Thursday, I was dreading my lunch.” Now, throughout the week, she packs leftovers from the previous nights’ meal as her lunch, which cuts down on her cooking time and grocery shopping time. This version of meal prepping can be helpful for those who want to start preparing their meals ahead of time, but don’t want to cook a week’s worth of meals all in one day.

“I still have to cook dinner, but I was already planning to make dinner anyway!” she said. “So, I buy enough extra that I don’t do any more cooking than necessary.”

4. Start Small to Stick With It

When you are just starting out on your meal-prep journey, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start small with realistic expectations, and don’t try to overcomplicate your menu until you get a hang of the meal-prep lifestyle. Also, only add things to your meals that you will actually want to eat… If you hate eating broccoli, then DON’T add broccoli to your meals. While broccoli is healthy and delicious to some, forcing yourself to eat something you hate will only make your meal-prep experience harder and less sustainable. Remember that practice makes perfect, and habits don’t form overnight.

Try this sample weekly meal plan to test drive the meal-prep experience!

Shopping List
Chicken Breast
Stir Fry Beef
Wild Rice
Whole Wheat Tortilla Wraps
Shredded Lettuce
Onions
Peppers
Broccoli
Carrots
Cherry Tomatoes
Seasonings and Sauces of Choice

Cooking Instructions:

Chicken: Cut up chicken breast and cook with seasonings of choice and olive oil.
Stir Fry Beef: Cook beef with sliced onions, peppers and seasonings of choice.
Veggies: Leave half of the veggies raw. With the other half, chop into bite-sized pieces, cover with olive oil and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes until desired doneness.

Weekly Meal Plan:

Monday:
Main: Chicken and lettuce in a whole wheat tortilla
Side: Raw broccoli, carrots and tomatoes
Suggested Sauce: Low-fat Ranch dressing

Tuesday:
Main: Stir fry beef with peppers and onions over wild rice
Side: Roasted broccoli and carrots
Suggested Sauce: Soy sauce or teriyaki

Wednesday:
Main: Chicken with roasted broccoli and carrots over wild rice
Side: Cherry tomatoes
Suggested Sauce: Balsamic vinaigrette

Thursday:
Main: Beef fajitas with peppers and onions
Side: Side salad with carrots, broccoli, tomatoes and dressing
Suggested Sauce: Salsa

Friday:
Main: Chicken and wild rice in a whole wheat wrap topped with diced tomatoes
Side: Roasted broccoli and carrots
Suggested Sauce: Italian dressing

Saturday:
Main: Stir fry beef with peppers and onions over wild rice
Side: Raw broccoli, carrots and tomatoes
Suggested Sauce: Soy sauce or teriyaki

Sunday:
Main: Chicken and beef fajitas with pepper and onions
Side: Side salad with broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and dressing
Suggested Sauce: Salsa

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