By: Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Are you someone who loathes meal prepping? You’re not alone. In fact, my clients tell me all the time that it’s their least favorite thing to do. While they love the end result of meal prepping (such as the eating part), the actual process of making food and meals in bulk can be quite time-consuming and monotonous.
While this article isn’t going to solve your problem by taking the responsibility of meal prepping out of your hands (it could if you hire a meal prep company, but that gets incredibly costly), it will provide you with some tips and strategies to help simplify the process and keep things moving along at a faster pace.
Disclaimer: It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before making any changes to your current diet.
Plan Your Meals and Grocery List Ahead of Time
Unless you like spending hours at the grocery store and coming home with a bunch of items you had no intention of purchasing, you’ll want to plan your meals ahead of time and create a grocery list of all the food items you need to purchase during your outing.
Stick to your grocery list, and do NOT go to the grocery store when you’re hungry. Meal prepping takes excessive amounts of time for those who don’t plan and prepare. Either write down your grocery list on a piece of paper or use your smartphone to create your list. Also, don’t forget your list when you actually leave to go to the store (yes, it happens).
Invest in the Right Equipment for Meal Prepping
One of the worst things you can do is try to complete all your meal prepping using old and non-efficient equipment. If you’re using a tiny grill, old blender, pots and pans that everything sticks to, and dull knives that can’t even cut through butter, you’re going to end up frustrated and wasting a lot of time.
I’m of the mentality that you “buy once, cry once.” Get yourself a grill that you can put all your protein sources on without having to do multiple batches. Get a quality rice cooker that you can set it and forget it and come back to perfectly cooked rice when it’s done. Invest in high-quality knives that make your life easier by not feeling like you’re trying to saw through a tree trunk when cutting up your protein sources and vegetables.
When you have quality equipment, it makes meal prepping that much easier and less time-consuming.
Make Sure You Have a Clean and Clear Workspace
They say that a cluttered space destroys productivity, and it’s 100% accurate. When you are meal prepping, you’ll want to ensure you have a clean and clear workspace to accomplish the task.
If you have a cluttered workspace, you’re going to find yourself cramped for space, putting things down and then having to look to see where you put them, and if the space isn’t clean, you risk contaminating your food and potentially getting sick.
Before you start meal prepping, clear off and clean up the space so that you are as productive as possible.
Additionally, it would make sense to organize your refrigerator so that you aren’t looking for various things in different places. After you go grocery shopping, put everything together that you’ll need for meal prepping so it’s in one spot. There’s nothing worse than finishing up meal prepping for the week and realizing you had other ingredients you were going to include in your meals.
Prepare All Your Food in Bulk All at One Time
You live a busy and hectic life. Why would you want to make it more stressful by needing to cook a meal after a long day or figuring out what to eat at lunch because you didn’t plan anything before leaving home? Simplify the process by meal prepping all your meals for the week on one day.
For example, do all your meal prepping on a Sunday so that you have meals at the ready. This allows you to wake up in the morning and not need to think about what to take for lunch or what to make when you get home from work or school at night. All your meals will be in the refrigerator, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Related Article: 7 Simple Meal Planning Tips That Create Huge Weight Loss Results
Sure, it could take you some time on that Sunday to do all your meal prepping, but once it’s done, you won’t need to think about cooking your meals during the week since they’ll already be done.
Meal prepping allows you to have no excuse to eat healthy and stay on your diet since your meals will be sitting there ready to heat up or eat cold based on the meal(s) and your preference.
Build Entire Meals and Place Them in Tupperware
While I normally tell people and clients to either put each of the meal components in separate Tupperware containers (such as chicken in one, vegetables in another, etc.) to simplify the entire process of meal prepping, build entire meals, and place them in Tupperware.
As mentioned above, this makes grabbing meals a breeze — without you even needing to think about what to eat. Grab a Tupperware container, and out the door you go in the morning. Or when you come home from work or school, you don’t need to slave over the stove cooking a meal, it will be ready to go when you are.
Portion out your macros so that they fit within your meal plan. By doing so, it also makes tracking your food intake for the day easy as you can put the meal into an app like MyFitnessPal once and then, with a single click, add it any other day of the week you consume the meal.
Plan your meals around your protein source. Whether chicken, turkey, steak, ground beef, fish, tofu, etc., figure out what vegetables and various carb/fat sources you want to go with each protein source. Make the meals fun and savory by trying some of the tips found in our final section.
Get Creative with Your Meals
It should be noted that you will want to prepare meals with different foods in them so that you aren’t eating the same thing every meal, every day. Could you imagine eating chicken and broccoli twice a day, seven days a week? You’d go insane and give up by day two. Mix it up so your foods aren’t bland or boring.
Add some herbs or spices to some of your meals. Add some condiments to others. Change up the carbohydrate or fat source. Alternate between your protein sources so that you don’t have the same source at each meal during the day.
The key is to have fun with building your meals for the week and focus on the foods you actually enjoy eating. If you create meals that contain foods you hate, you’re less likely to eat those meals and may go off plan to avoid them.
Stay consistent, and make meal prepping a part of your weekly plan. It’ll simplify your nutrition plan, keep you on track, and help provide you with some amazing results.
And speaking of getting creative with your meals, why not apply the same principles to your protein powder? No matter how good it is, you’ve probably looked at your protein powder and wished you could do something different. Well, you can with a bit of creativity!
For instance, why not take our MuscleSport Lean Whey in Protella flavor, and make your own German chocolate cake? Sound too good to be true? Or shouting at your screen to shut up and take your money?
Check out this link to find out how you can make a delectable and delicious high-protein German chocolate cake to eat as a dessert, or anytime you have a sweet tooth that needs taming!