The most important change I attribute to my weight loss success has been to incorporate meal prep into my weekly routine. What do I mean by meal prep?
For me, it’s chopping veggies, making a pot of soup or stew and cooking up some meat and veggies for my meals during the week.
There are some great benefits to taking time one day to prep some food for the upcoming week.
I try to get my grocery shopping done on Thursday or Friday. On Sunday I attempt to carve out a couple of hours to prep for the next several days. When I’m able to do this, my time in the kitchen is reduced during the week. This is fantastic because we’re juggling homework, dinner, and sports.
When we can save time, we can also potentially eliminate some stress. Sometimes I feel like I’m racing the clock after my kids get out of school. Homework, dinner, sports, chores, showers, bed! Go go go!!! Can we get it all done before bedtime? Meal prep can shave off some precious time at the end of the day which can help give us some breathing room.
Meal planning and meal prep go hand in hand, and when I can be efficient at both, my budget usually has some breathing room. One, I make less trips to the store, and two, I do not go out to eat as much.
Another great budget saving plus of prepping things ahead of time is wasting less food. Tuesday night is garbage night, thus, it’s the night I clean out the refrigerator. I know I’m going to find food shoved in the back of my corners of the fridge after an unknown amount of time and will be shriveled to a disgusting shadow of its once robust size. Or, if in a container, it carriers a thick colorful layer of growth, making the original item almost unrecognizable.
When I’m strict about meal prep and planning, these unknown discoveries are not as commonplace. I waste less food, thus, saving more money for trips!
During the summer months, I will shop the farmers markets but during the winter I pick up most of my produce at Costco. I will slice all my cucumbers and bell peppers at once. I don’t package them individually as some people do, and although I can see the convenience of it, since I work from home, I usually just put them all in one big Ziploc container.
I also buy all my trail mix components in the bulk section and these I do bag up so I can grab and go. Having pre sliced veggies, rinsed fruit, and pre measured out nuts, I have more control over my grazing urges.
Although I don’t pre measure and individually package my chopped veggies, I will measure out just about everything else. My meat – in 4 oz. servings, my soups or stews in 1 cup servings, and my oatmeal in ½ cup servings. This isn’t a rule of thumb for everyone, these are standard measurements I use for myself. By taking the time to take this extra step, I’ve eliminated the chance to overeat. Once my container is empty, I am done eating.
If you’ve never tried meal prep, start small!
- Cut up all veggies for the week.
- Wash and cut lettuce for salads or sandwiches.
- Cut up fruit such as pineapple or melons.
- Make them easily accessible for everyone in the house and everyone can snack healthier for the week. Next week, add something else – maybe a breakfast casserole?
One caveat – some people prep for an entire week. I will with some of my foods, but other foods, such as my protein, I will not. I try to prep on Sunday and make it last through Wednesday. I don’t mind eating the same thing for a few days, but after that I usually need to change it up. I try to allow myself to go out to eat on Friday. On Thursdays I will make egg salad or tuna salad, something super simple and high protein.