Working hard to better your physical skills, the last thing you want to do is improperly fuel yourself. There are those who can pass by fast food restaurants, and stay away from the Chinese takeout menus, but for many people, having healthy options easily on hand is the best way to not only feed themselves but to also keep themselves on track.
Meal preparation is a thing that many committed athletes do to ensure that they have the appropriate foods and nutrition readily available. It is easier to maintain a healthy week when you make the foods in advance and can take them to work with you or grab and reheat quickly. Not sure where to start? Seems a bit overwhelming? Here are a few tips to becoming great a meal prepping.
1. Keep It Simple
Many people think that meal prepping and eating healthy is expensive, but if you do it correctly, you probably will save money in the long run. Focus on a few types of proteins, 3-5 types of carbs, and 2-4 types of healthy fats. When you keep it this simple, you’ll be able to mix and match your meals (each meal should consist of protein and carbs, throw in the healthy fats) without spending a ton of menus that call for varying spices, sauces, and many types of carbs. Keep your meals simple to begin with! Check out this example of a week’s worth of meals and how simple they can be but still varying so you don’t tire out too quickly:
2. Be Realistic About the Amount You’re Going to Take In
One reason why people fail at meal prep is because they either buy too little food and run out mid-week, or they buy too much and spend money on food they will have to throw out at the end of the week. Before starting your adventures into meal prep, calculate how much you’ll be eating each day based on your caloric intake. How to do this? Try a site like Free Dieting to see how many calories you should be eating each day. Once you know this, figure out how many calories that translates into each meal. Maybe you prefer to split your calories evenly across all meals, or you prefer to eat heavier in the morning and lighter throughout the day. Whichever you choose, sum up all of your numbers (4oz of chicken breast is 110 calories, 23 protein) for each meal and total that for the week. For example, I buy about 5 pounds of chicken each week. Thats about 80 ounces which translates to 4 meals for 5 days. Sounds complicated, but trust me, once you get use to it you’ll be in and out of the grocery store with the perfect amount each week.
3. Think Ahead – Tools and Built In Cheats
To meal prep, you’ll need a lot of containers. It can be beneficial to invest in plastic containers (try Ziplock) and also glass containers (Rubbermaid is great!) for items you need to keep hot if you heat and grab on the run. Additionally, the hardest part of staying on the right nutritional track is when those cravings start to hit, but you don’t have anything to tame that sweet tooth in the house. Of course you don’t want to keep many nutritionally void items within reach, but if you don’t plan for that moment during your meal prep, you’ll be more likely to get takeout that ends up being more than you want or plan on eating. Grab a small bag of chips when meal prep shopping, or a small container of ice cream. Make that item a reward or plan the exact time you’ll be eating it when you’re planning your week. Trust me, it’ll keep you accountable and on track better than you know!