Meal prep is the art of planning and preparing your meals in advance with the intention of controlling calories and nutrition to meet your personal dietary needs. You might have heard of these two sayings; ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ and ‘Abs are made in the kitchen’. Both of these sayings are very true! Meal prepping is one of the best ways to keep your nutrition on point regardless of your goal. Whether it be to lose a few pounds, a few stone or to optimize performance for a sport or activity.
When it is done right, it can be one of the biggest factors in helping you to lose weight and hit those all important fitness goals. How many times have you had good intentions but then just grabbed or made the quickest and probably not the best food choice when you were too tired, too hungry and in too much of a rush to make or buy a more balanced and healthier meal or snack.
It can take a little time to get it right and to make meals that you will enjoy and continue to enjoy for a few weeks. You don’t need to be a highly skilled chef to do it. You can tailor your meal prepping approach to your kitchen skill level. What works for you may not work for someone else and just like your diet and exercise regime, your meal prepping is personal to you.
In order to prepare your meals in advance with the intention of controlling calories and macros for your personal needs, there is some planning involved. This might include:
· Designing a menu plan for the week ahead, involve the family in food choices.
· Aiming to get ‘bio diversity’ in your diet, include all the different colors of vegetables and fruit available through the season to give you the most diverse nutritional content in your diet.
· Cooking extra when you make your evening meal so you have left overs to take to work the following day for lunch
· Cooking in batch and freezing meals that can be easily defrosted ahead of time.
· Stock up on Tupperware and any cupboard items you may use regularly in your meals. The more things you have that are at hand, the easier it will be
· Write yourself a weekly menu and shopping list. This will help to ensure you have everything in that you need when prepping, and mean you are less likely to go wrong.
You will also need to consider the below before starting:
· Gauge your level of commitment. You need to be realistic and decide how much you want to cook and how often
· Prioritise your weak spots – which meals or snacks need immediate attention? You might eat a healthy evening meal every night but find your lunches are the ones that need fixing, or the other way around. Perhaps it is the snacks that are your weak point – if this is the case, think about these first.
· Start small – while you get to grips with your new process, prep for 2-3 days each week and go from there. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself and give up before you really get started.
· Set some time aside to do your prepping, maybe the same time each week?
· Consider using local companies to help give you a start and an example of meal prep! In Huddersfield, we are lucky to have several such companies: ‘Prep’ located on Southgate, ‘Extreme Kitchen’ on Red Doles Lane and ‘The Little Meal Prep Box’ on Wakefield Rd. Tandem, specializing in Caribbean inspired flavours. All provide an extensive menu and provide a full meal prep service.
Remember, although it may take some investment in time to start with, meal prepping has many benefits, that are highlighted below.
Meal prep will help you to save money by stopping you from making random unnecessary purchases. It will also stop the need for those ‘top up shops’ that we are sometimes guilty of, or grabbing expensive ‘meal deals’ through the week.
Whilst preparing meals for the week may take up some time, once you’re done you’re done. There’s no more time wasted everyday deciding what you want to eat, slaving over a stove, or waiting for a deliveryman.
Try different foods
Meal prepping may just be the excuse you needed to start diversifying your weekly meal choices. We are blessed with some of the best Butchers, fish mongers, fruit and veg shops in the country yet how many of us eat similar meals each and every week?
Learn portion control
Meal prep forces you to control your portions, as you divide up your batch-cooked meal. This stops you going back for seconds and eating unnecessary calories.
Stick to the plan
If you can get yourself into an efficient routine, meal prep can also help reduce the number of poor decisions you make and mean that you are less likely to go ‘off plan’ when you are tired or not in the mood to make that healthy decision. It will free up some of your willpower and mental space needed to help you reach your health and fitness goals more easily.
Good luck with your meal prepping! If you feel that you need further advice, assistance or recipe ideas, get in touch!