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Start Eating Right With These Meal Prep Tips

If your News Years Resolution is to eat right then try these Meal Prep tips! We've got the basics for your to start cooking your meals in advanced and eating better right away.
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Preparing your meals in advance was a huge trend last year and a perfect place to start this year if you're planning on eating healthy and getting fit. It's also a great addition to your workout routine. By planning out your meals, you have better control over what you eat. This is a tool that can be used by anyone - the person trying to cut out a little sugar from their work lunch, someone getting their emotional or bored eating under control and even the gym buff that needs more calories on high intensity days and less on recovery days.

Why Do It?

There are numerous reasons people started meal prepping so if you don't think it's for you, take a look at these:
  • Cuts down on cooking time. During the week, you'll spend less time cooking meals if you prepared them in advanced. It's great for making dinner after a long day at work.
  • Keeps you from fast food. By making food when you have time, it's available when you're in a crunch. This means when you're desperate for lunch on your break, you won't run to the burger joint.
  • Makes you more mindful about what you're eating and how much.

  • No matter what you're preparing your meals for, there isn't a wrong way to do it if it works for you. But if you're new to meal prep, we have pointers and tips that could help.

    General Rules

    Following these simple rules can help direct you in the right direction when you first start your meal preparation. 

    1. Pick a day to cook all your meals and stick to it. Write it on the calendar and make sure you always have enough time in the kitchen. You may need more time in the first few weeks cooking everything but as you get better at it, you should get faster.  It'll always be a commitment, though and one you need to make. You'll thank yourself for it during the week.

    2. Plan your meals in advanced. Not only will this prevent you from racking your brain while you pace around the kitchen but it'll also give you a clear shopping list. Planning the meal, including the main dish, sides and spices will really help cut down kitchen time.

    3. Decide what meals you're making. Some people use meal prep as a time to make all their work lunches and leave it at that while others plan their entire week's menu out: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. If you're new to meal prepping, start with one meal and slowly add in others. If you're already preparing vegetables for your work lunch, it's also easy to prepare your dinner vegetables for later.

    4. Use staple items. You don't need to make the same thing for every meal and you probably shouldn't or you'll get bored and look elsewhere for food. You can, though, use the same proteins and vegetables in your meals while still mixing up the menu. This keeps you from overbuying and makes it easier to cook. You can change the taste with seasoning too. Make a chicken taco one day, a kabob the next and chicken and rice on the days in between. Great variety, different tastes but you'll still only need to cook chicken. 

    5. Don't get fancy. Taste is important but looks aren't. Generally these meals will sit around for a few days and working your butt off to create a masterpiece dish will have you calling the whole thing off after making your first meal. If you're just planning work lunches, it's okay to make sandwiches instead of the fancy meals you see on Instagram. Give yourself a beginners level break. Go for easy to make comfort meals you know you'll like and ones you can make.

    6. Plan your eating. What I mean is, how are you planning on eating these when the day comes? You should check your schedule to see if you'll have time on Wednesday to reheat your meal or if you should plan something that doesn't require a microwave. This is help prevent you from running to the dreaded fast food when you realize there's no other option. Think about your containers too. You may need microwavable containers or ice packs to keep food but if you're staying home, you may wanna throw it all in a bag!

    7. Prepare only about 5 days worth of meals at a time, leaving 3 days worth in the fridge. The rest you should freeze. This will prevent spoilage. Keep in mind what foods do well in the freeze and which don't when you plan your meals. 

    Use staple items so you're not complicating your time in the kitchen.

    What Should I Be Eating?

    It's easy to plan on starting a new meal plan but when you get to the store is when the you wonder -- what do I eat?

    Don't panic, it's pretty easy. If you're trying a new diet, talk to your doctor or nutritionist about a shopping list but if you're just trying to eat better, look for the basics!

  • Protein: Chicken, eggs, lean ground beef, pork or lean lunch meat. If you're a vegetarian, try tofu, textured vegetable protein or faux meat.
  • Carbohydrates: Oats, quinoa, rice, bread, tortillas.
  • Fiber: Split-peas, lentils, black beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, whole-grain pasta or bread, oatmeal
  • Good Fats (use sparingly): Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, real butter

  • For other suggest, check out our healthy grocery shopping guide with plenty of ingredients and varieties.

    More Tips

    These are just some things we've personally picked up.

  • Cooking what you can all at once. Roasting chicken and vegetables together saves on time!
  • Seasoning is your friend. It provides taste and can help you from getting bored with your meals. Just make sure you read the nutritional facts. Keep away from high sodium or artificial flavors.
  • Fiber will keep you fuller longer.
  • Plan your snacks while you make meals. Any leftovers can easily be converted into something healthy so you're not breaking your diet when you're between meals and need something tasty.
  • Label everything or make sure you can see what's in it. Nothing's worse than thinking you're taking a beautiful pre-mixed salad to work only to find out it's leftover pasta sauce.
  • Line vegetable containers with paper towels to absorb excess water. This will cut back on browning and spoilage over the week they sit.
  • You can easily prep smoothies by making a big batch and then freeze it into ice cubes. It's a great use of left-over vegetables and fruit after your prep and it frees up space in your fridge. In the morning or whenever, just pop the smoothie cubes in the blend and you have your smoothie!

  • Whether you're using meal prep to stay on calorie count for workouts or just cut back on stress throughout the week, it really is a great tool to utilize this year. We have a variety of container options for you to begin your meal prepping adventure with so give them a look! Let us know your tips on Meal Prepping or if you want to know anything else about it by writing to us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Check back again next week for more health tips, tricks and news on how easy it is to live healthy!
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