Preparing meals for the week ahead can seem like a daunting task and you may have visions of endless piles of Tupperware crammed with nothing but rice, broccoli and chicken, but a successful meal prep can provide a great opportunity to ensure you are eating a wide range of flavoursome, nutritious foods, instead of just picking up the same old sandwich meal deal, day in, day out.
If fat loss is your goal, then there’s a number of different strategies you can implement into your daily life to increase your success rate, but few will have as drastic an impact as planning out your meals for the week ahead.
Not only does meal prepping save you a significant amount of time and money, but it allows you to stay on track with your nutrition and allows you to be confident that your fuelling your body with the energy it needs with all the necessary macro and micro nutrients.
Trust us, once you’re into the meal prep lifestyle, you’ll never go back to everyday cooking or bland shop bought lunches again.
Follow our 4 tips below and you’ll be meal prepping like a boss in no time at all.
Preparation is Key
Before you diver headfirst into your new meal prep lifestyle, it worth taking a bit of time to think about what kind of meals you will look forward to eating day to day, that will also help you stay on track with your goals.
There is an abundance of recipes to be found either online, via social media or through a good old fashioned cook book that will get your creative juices flowing and having you cooking up exciting, nutrient dense meals in no time (and remember to save them to make it even easier for yourself in the weeks to follow).
Once you know what you want to make, it time to write down your shopping list. It seems obvious but its so easy to be distracted when doing a food shop that having a list to stick to will help avoid grabbing those all-to-tempting calorie dense, palatable treats.
Cook in Bulk & Freeze for Freshness
It goes without saying, meal prep = cooking in bulk, but we still want to make it as easy and straight forward a process as possible.
Aim to have meals that can be cooked in one pot, one roasting tray or in a slow cooker. Not only does it save on the washing up, but it makes it’s easier to keep track of what is going into your meals and lets you cook multiple meals at the same time – a great time saver!
Once all your meals are cooked up and separated into their individual dishes, set aside what you need for the next 2-3 days and store the remainder in the freezer, keeping it fresh and ready for later in the week…just don’t forget to take them out the night before.
Start with the meals you struggle with most
Some people never have time for breakfast, others struggle to find a moment for lunch or it could be a case of always forgetting to make a post workout shake and snack.
Whatever meal(s) you struggle to consistently have each day, make these a priority in your meal prep.
You might just want to start off by making overnight oats with a scoop of protein so that each day you can get a quick, fuss free breakfast that will provide slow realising energy throughout the morning and with enough protein to keep you feeling full. (1)
Once you have this meal (or whichever one you struggle with the most) then start adding other meals into your prep.
Track Calories as you Cook
The key to fat loss is ensuring that you’re in a calorie deficit (2) and a great way to do this is by tracking your food intake through apps such as MyFitnessPal. Meal prepping doesn’t just save you time in the kitchen throughout the week, but if you track whilst you cook, it also saves you having to pull your phone out to scan a barcode every time you eat and removes guesstimating.
By inputting your meals as you prep, you get a clear picture of how many calories you’ll be consuming each day and what you have remaining to play with, letting you make more informed choices when you do eventually have to grab food on the go.
- Paddon-Jones D1, Westman E, Mattes RD, Wolfe RR, Astrup A, Westerterp-Plantenga M. Protein, weight management, and satiety. The American Journal of clinical nutrition. 2008 May;87(5)
- Strasser B1, Spreitzer A, Haber P. Fat loss depends on energy deficit only, independently of the method for weight loss. Annals of nutrition & metabolism. 2007;51(5)