Meal Prep 101: 6 Tips To Help Busy People Eat Clean
If you’ve found yourself getting caught up in a busy on-the-go lifestyle, you’re not alone! Everyone seems to be living a hectic lifestyle these days.
Now don’t get me wrong, busy can be good. But at the end of the day when you feel like you’re running on empty, it’s hard to find the drive to cook the nourishing meal your body needs. No wonder popping into a drive-through or scarfing down a doughnut (or 6!) that your co-worker brought into the office seems like a logical option. It’s quick, and it fills you enough to get you from point A to point B.
But with time, unhealthy food choices, irregular eating times, inflated portions, and eating too quickly can take their toll on energy levels, alertness, and brain functioning (not to mention our waistline).
The issue here isn’t living a busy lifestyle (because that is inevitable for most of us) but finding the time to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet while we do it.
Oh hi, meal prep!
Preparing meals ahead of time helps eliminate poor eating habits from our day-to-day lifestyle by making sure we have lots of healthy, portion controlled options on hand to grab no matter how drained we are.
When ‘meal prepping’ there are several things to factor in, such as how much food to make, what kind of food to cook, and how to prepare it. Below are 6 tips to simplify your meal prep experience!
Be consistent, and get into a routine! Choose one day of the week that allows you to dedicate a couple of hours to your meal prep. This allows it to become a habit, and soon enough you won’t even have to think about it, you will just know that meal prep happens on that day – no ifs, ands, or buts! (It never hurts to pencil it into your schedule ahead of time or set an alarm reminder on your phone)
Do Some Research
If you don’t have a nutritionist or someone to help you determine how much food you should be consuming on a daily basis, it’s a good idea to start by determining your macros. This takes into account your goal, whether it is to gain weight, lose weight, or just maintain what you’ve got.
Make a List and Buy in Bulk
Make your grocery shop quick and easy by creating a grocery list ahead of time, then stick to it.
While prepping your food for the week ahead you will quickly realize just how much food is needed. Once you have a good idea, try buying in bulk or stocking up on sale items. It can help save a lot of money.
Touch on All the Food Groups
Consuming a variety of nutrients is important to your overall health and helps you feel satisfied. To have a well-rounded diet, make sure your grocery list includes foods from all five food groups: grains/starches, dairy, meat (or alternatives if you avoid these groups), fruit, and vegetables
To have a well-rounded diet, make sure your grocery list includes foods from all four food groups: grains and starches, dairy and meat (or alternatives if you avoid these groups), and fruits and veggies.
Cook Smarter Not Longer
When preparing your meals try and prepare them all the same way. For instance, bake your chicken, yams, and broccoli in the oven at the same time instead of baking the yams, pan frying the chicken, and steaming the broccoli. This will save both time and effort. A good shortcut for cooking grains is using a rice cooker for bulk quantities, or a slow cooker for veggies and proteins (lots of flavour and hardly any work needed). You can never go wrong by adding some raw fruit, veggies, or nuts to meals for quick and easy add-ons.
Tupperware and Carry-Bag
Finally, make sure you have proper storage and transport for your meals once they have been prepared! Having a good quality carry bag and (reusable) Tupperware is essential for storing meals and bringing them on-the-go. Good quality Tupperware and carry bags (lunch bags) can be found at nearly every department store; if you want to go the extra mile, companies such as FitMark Bags and Isolator Fitness create carry-bags specifically for meal prep.
Now, what is holding YOU back from integrating meal prep into your lifestyle? Health is wealth. Prioritize your nutrition by prepping your meals and using my 6 tips for making it quick, easy, and stress-free!
Natalie Amoore is a recent graduate from UBC (BFA) and has been an athlete her entire life enjoying horseback riding, beach volleyball, and weight training. For more health and fitness tips be sure to follow her on Instagram.