To begin, let's make sure we're on the same page on what meal planning isand what it isn't.
Meal Prep Is: Dedicating a block of time to batch-cook ingredients and/or plan complete meals for the week ahead to make everyday eating easier for yourself and your family.
This can be as easy as cutting a bunch of vegetables for salads and putting a sauce together for the week. Meal plans will make it easier for you to stay on track with your weight loss plan. It gives you a week-long head start and makes you feel more in control of what you eat.
Meal Prep Isn't: A one-size-fits-all cycle that looks exactly the same for every household and individual every week. This also does not automatically mean that every meal is prepared, cooked and served for the week ahead. Unless that is what you want it to be, of course.
What works for one person may not work for another, and that is all right. It may also not look the same from week to week, as schedules or needs can vary or alter.
The Secret that Every Successful Meal 'Prepper' Knows
Meal plans can range from simply making freezer smoothie packs for breakfast to cooking full dinners for the next week. There's no one way or process to cook meals it's about what works best for you. So you don't have to spend half of your Sunday in the kitchen to get it home.
Planning and preparing meals for as little as 30 minutes can encourage eating well throughout the week. Meal prepping can also be very lenient. You don't need to jump straight to pure healthy foods or food that really doesn't appeal to you. You can even choose recipes that bring out the cookie monster in you.
Meal prep is just a way you can fully organize and create your diet, which by the way, may or may not be full-on health, but it really does help if you do so. Don't make too much of a fuss over a strict diet when you're not ready for it. There are loads of ways you can balance it out.
Try to make meal prep as fun as you can too. Think of it as knowing on Thursday, you'll be having your favorite salad or on Friday have your mom's fabulous chicken recipe for lunch.
How Meal Prep Helps
Prepping meals literally means having meals, snacks or ingredients prepared or batch-cooked in advance to make healthy eating easier during your busier days.
To one person that may mean making breakfasts and lunches worth a week that they can reheat at work. For another, it might mean just chopping up some extra vegetables and making a homemade salad dressing for use all week long.
And, realizing that you have something waiting in the fridge can make you less likely to swing for an emergency lunch or dinner via the drive-thru.
It's also a great way of mixing things up and having more variety in your diet, as it encourages you to prepare ahead and formulate your meals in advance, rather than depending on your tried and tested recipes in a pinch.
Preparation of meals helps you to consume your favorite meals while predetermined portion sizes to ensure you are not overindulging. Having a set of well-balanced meals on hand can help you monitor what you are consuming and help you keep on board with your personal diet goals.
If the health benefits alone have not convinced you to consider cooking meals, consider the financial gains. Getting home-made food will help you save money because it keeps you from eating out.
In addition to this, meal planning gives you maximum control over ingredients, allowing you the freedom to shop selectively for groceries. You will stop making excessive purchases of food with careful preparation, save you money and reduce food waste.
The planning and preparing of meals is a perfect way to make healthy food choices, saving time and money. While at first it may seem daunting, there are a number of techniques you can use to build a healthy pattern of meal planning that works with your particular lifestyle.
Read our tips on how to create a meal plan that you will actually stick to and start your weight loss plan today.