It’s easy to stay on top of your healthy eating habits when everything is set up for you. But what about when you’re tired, busy, and stressed out?
Those are the moments where it’s easiest to fall off the wagon.
Let’s be honest, convenience matters. And sometimes it’s just easier to grab the closest thing to you or go out for a bite to eat rather than stay home and cook, am I right?
Lack of preparation can get you off track just as quickly as lack of motivation or discipline, and when you haven’t prepped anything ahead of time you’re more likely to succumb in a moment of weakness. In other words, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
So what’s a simple way to start? The tried and true meal prep method. Meal prepping is a really great way to remove the barrier of having to make a food decision in the heat of a ‘“hangry’” moment (believe me, it’s a real thing and it’s not fun for anyone).
Here are my top five meal prep tips to save time and avoid a stress-induced binge:
1. One size doesn’t fit all
Know what portion sizes work best for you. There are standard portion sizes out there that you can use as an example but only you know what works for you.
If you’ve been on this weight loss and healthy eating journey for a while then you probably already know what your caloric intake should look like (i.e. what ratios of carbs, veggies, protein, legumes, etc. work for your for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks).
This will be different for everyone depending on individual lifestyle and goals, but I encourage you to figure out what portion sizes work for you based on your research and your experience with your body. Use a macronutrient calculator or a tool like My Fitness Pal to figure out what your body needs.
2. Have a Tupperware party
Okay, not really :). But it is helpful to have some inexpensive containers on hand to designate for each meal. You can organize these by different sizes, colors, or shapes of containers, but make it easy for yourself to identify what’s for what. This helps to keep everything portioned out correctly so that you don’t have to think about it in the moment.
You should also get little ziplock baggies for holding spices and salad dressing too. Just because you’re planning ahead doesn’t mean the meals have to be boring!
3. Build a recipe library
Do some research and make a recipe library. Visit Yummly or Allrecipes.com to curate a list of recipes that you like and some new ones that you’d like to try. You could organize these in a spreadsheet or make a Pinterest board so that you know in advance which are your go-to meals and snacks.
When you have extra time you can experiment with some new recipes, but make sure you have your list of tried and true favorites. These are the recipes you’ll know how to make and how long they take.
Having that list in your pocket really helps on meal prep day so you don’t have to think too much, especially if you’re already tired and a little bit worn out.
4. Pencil it in
Look at your calendar and find a realistic time to set aside for meal prep. It could be one or two days a week (it depends how long in advance you want to prepare meals for). Designate a few hours on those days to meal prep. It doesn’t have to be boring or a chore. This is the time I like to listen to podcasts, watch a webinar or catch up on my favourite TV shows.
5. Don’t just think about it.
Take action, stick to the plan, and try to be consistent. Remember, consistency is what will set you up for success.
Quit wasting your mental energy debating whether or not you should have the pizza or greasy burger for dinner. Meal prepping is a HUGE timesaver and gives you some structure to stick to eating healthy. Planning in advance takes away the cognitive load of decision making in the moment so that it’s much easier to stay on track.
Take care of your nutrition ahead of time so you can save your energy for making a lasting impact on the world!