Meal Prepping 101
By Chris Zinn
Being successful in anything requires knowledge, motivation, and sometimes sacrificing things you normally wouldn’t.
Whether its weight loss, gaining muscle or learning a new skill, it’s going to require all of the above.
Success also requires one other thing; arguably, the most important ingredient:
Even if the changes you make are small, if you continue to make them over and over again, you will eventually see meaningful change.
So, when it comes to eating - whether your goal is to gain muscle or lose weight - you must maintain consistency throughout the process.
You want to gain muscle? Great! Make sure you maintain a caloric surplus for an extended period and workout at least 3 times a week and you will be muscle-bound before you can say, "Arnold Schwarzenegger."
Unfortunately, it never seems to work out this well, does it? Being consistent in meeting your goals is hard. If it wasn’t, we would all be either swimsuit models or bodybuilders by now.
Life tends to get in the way of our goals whether we like it or not. An unexpectedly busy week at work may leave no time for you to meticulously curate all of your meals with perfect macronutrient splits.
So how do you stay consistent and eliminate all possible excuses?
Enter: meal prepping.
What is Meal Prepping?
Bodybuilders aren't the only ones who can benefit from prepping meals. Every single person can make their nutrition a lot better and make progress toward their goals simply by increasing their meal prep ability.
Meal prepping allows you to look forward to pre-made meals, takes the guesswork out of choosing what to eat, and of course the most celebrated perk of meal prepping:
IT SAVES TIME!
All meal prepping really consists of is setting aside some time, whether that's a couple of hours on one day of the week, or a few minutes each morning, to prepare some food that's ready to go.
Now, you may be thinking of refrigerators overflowing with pyrex containers of pre-prepped meals, but meal prepping doesn’t have to be that involved. Preparing a snack to eat later on in the morning when you know you have a busy day can be considered meal prep.
How Do I Meal Prep?
There are lots of different ways you can go about meal prepping, all requiring varying amounts of time.
Option 1: Prep all of Your Food for the Week
This method of meal prepping requires probably the most amount of planning and time. That's right, you need to prep for your prep.
Just like you don’t want to be guessing about what to stuff in your mouth when you’re hungry, you don’t want to be guessing about what to put in your cart at the grocery store.
Here are some steps you can take to prepare:
1. Look at your schedule and see which days will need prepped meals the most.
2. Create a list and stick to it (try not to create the list or go to the store when you’re hungry).
3. Shop for the ingredients you need.
4. Cook all the time-consuming elements.
Once you’ve got your shopping done, plan your meals out for the week (how many meals you plan is up to you) and set aside at least a couple of hours to get all the prepping done.
If you're planning to go with this method, try and prep foods that will last longer than a day. Otherwise, all of your food will go bad before you get a chance to eat it!
Option 2: Prep Your Food the Night Before
This option requires more frequent prepping, but less time per day. If you consistently have time during the evening and your mornings are busy, consider implementing this method of meal prep into your schedule.
There are a bunch of recipes out there for meals that you can prep the night before. Things like overnight oats make for great options that you can prep, stuff in the fridge, and then consume in the morning.
But you can also use this time to cook your meals, albeit just for that next day instead of the whole week.
The advantages to this method are that it won't take as long every time you prep, and you won't have to deal with food potentially spoiling throughout the week. The disadvantages of this method are that it requires you to prep every night which may be hard to do if you don't have consistently free evenings.
Option 3: Prep Your Food in the Morning
This option can be as simple as chopping up some veggies or even putting some fruit in a bowl or bag for later in the day. Doing so reminds you that you have a quick snack option available when you need it.
Sometimes, when we’re hungry, even just picking a grape off of the vine seems like too much work! You're much more likely to eat a healthy option if it's already washed, packed, and ready to go.
Here are some tips for this method:
1. You can make this part of another habit, such as making coffee or watching the news.
2. Block out actual time on your calendar so you have time each morning to prep food.
3. Prep foods in bulk.
Option 4: Use a Food Delivery Service
If you find you have no time at all throughout the week and are just too busy to do any meaningful food prep (and you have the funds), consider using a food delivery service.
There are plenty of services that let you select healthy meal options for the week, and then deliver them to you.
This could be anything from whole meals prepared by a chef, to something simpler such as pre-chopped vegetables. Anything to save time will be helpful. No prepping necessary for you!
Choose an Option that Works for You
The most important thing about meal prepping is to save time and have healthy food available when you need it. If one option just stresses you out more or ends up being too much hassle, then try another option.
Try implementing any of these options and start meal prepping now. Pretty soon, you'll have healthy food options ready to eat every single day!
Want to find out more about how to craft an approach to eating that will fit in with your needs, goals, and lifestyle? You can get started today working with Med Gym's own Certified Nutrition Coach, Chris Zinn, in our Nutrition Coaching Program!
If you've tried diet after diet and struggled to reach your goals, nutrition coaching may be the answer you need. Working with a qualified nutrition coach to craft and stick to the plan that is the right fit for you can be game-changing!
Contact us here to learn more about the nutrition coaching program and how you can get started.