Even in the best of times, life can be hectic, and we don’t always have a ton of free time to prepare elaborate meals everyday. Most people have a pretty full plate between work, kids, family obligations, school, chores, errands, exercise, and all of the other responsibilities we may have as adults. At the same time, it has become clear that what we eat impacts more than just our physique; nutrition is the foundation of our health, especially as we age!
The question then becomes, how do we eat healthy when we’re limited on time?
The answer: MEAL PREPPING
Planning and preparing your meals ahead of time is the cure to those last minute trips to the drive-through, or scrounging for whatever pre-packaged stuff you can throw in your bag before heading to work in the morning.
Where to Start: Meal Prep 101
1. If you have specific fitness goals and/or health issues, you might want to consult with a nutritionist. In general, you are going to benefit from choosing mostly real, whole foods, and keeping processed food, vegetable oils, and sugar to a minimum. A lot of people find success with an 80/20 rule, which balances mostly healthy eating with overall enjoyment.
2. Write out a meal plan for the week, then break it down into a shopping list. You can keep it simple, pairing chicken with rice and vegetables, a little bit of fruit, or if you want to get more creative, explore healthy recipes. Remember to incorporate spices for flavor, and don’t be afraid to try something new!
3. Go shopping! But make sure you eat first, that way you’ll be more likely to stick to your less and not impulse shop. In addition to food, make sure you have containers and whatever else you need to prepare, cook, and store your food.
4. Set aside time to cook for the week. Be mindful of how long things can be kept in the fridge or freezer, and what items will be better to make fresh. One great option is to cook your main course, i.e. beef, chicken, turkey, etc. put half in the fridge, half in the freezer, then when dinnertime rolls just pair it with a veggie, rice, taco, or whatever else. You can also make rice, protein, and veggie bowls to bring with you to work for an easy, healthier lunch.
5. Learn as you go and make adjustments as needed. The key is to plan and prepare ahead, have healthy foods available to you as much as possible, and to balance nutrition with enjoyment.
Benefits of meal prepping:
- Portion control
- Save money by eating out less
- Improve cooking skills
- Increase the results you get from working out
- Time efficient
- Inspires others to be healthier too
- Less food waste
Bonus tip: Don’t forget breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day! Start your morning strong with a protein-packed, healthy breakfast. One option is to wake up 15-20 minutes earlier and make yourself a quick veggie omelet. Alternatively, try cooking a frittata on Sunday to get you through the beginning of the week. Hard-boiled eggs are another quick and easy option to get your protein and nutrients in first thing.
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