When you’re trying to eat healthy, a lot of your bad decisions will come from hunger impulses. Think about it: You’re running late for work, you’re hungry, so you make the impulse decision to stop at McDonald’s for breakfast. After the temporary relief of your sausage McMuffin, you’re left with that greasy, uncomfortable feeling. You’re still low in energy and you’ll likely be hungry again before you know it.
This impulse decision is a result of not being prepared. Busy days are bound to happen, but by planning and preparing your meals ahead of time, you’ll be less likely to find yourself in that McDonald’s drive-thru. Sticking to a meal-prep routine can be hard and time-consuming at first, but the more you do it, it will get easier and take up less time. Eventually, it will become a habit.
Here are some tips for becoming a meal-prep expert:
Prepare mini-meals, rather than three large meals.
Mini-meals consist of a balanced combination of protein and carbohydrates. Eating a mini-meal every 2-3 hours has been shown to be more beneficial for weight loss than the traditional “3 meals a day.” It helps you avoid that “starving” feeling that leads to overeating.
Pick the day that’s right for you.
Sunday is usually the day that people have the most free time, making it a popular day for preparing meals. However, if Sundays don’t work for you, don’t give up meal-prep completely. You can plan for your week on any day.
Divide your time strategically.
Some people turn away from meal-prep because they view it as a daunting task. Try sitting down one day to plan out your meals in a notepad. The following day, go to the grocery store to pick up the foods you need. Save your actual meal-prep for the day after that. By spreading the process throughout three days, it won’t seem as time-consuming.
Pick foods that are easily transformed into different meals.
Diversity is needed when you are preparing your meals, as it is unlikely that you will want to eat the same thing every day of the week. Some grocery store staples may be: eggs, turkey breast, fruits, vegetables, and cottage cheese. These items can be used to mix with other ingredients to create new dishes.
Make sure you are storing your meals correctly.
This will help ensure freshness, which is important for prepping meals in advance. Another tip is to eat the items that perish quickly earlier in the week.
Add in some “easy days.”
It’s okay to have a day or two where you substitute one of your mini-meals for a protein-rich snack bar. Switching it up from time to time will help you satisfy cravings, without indulging in unhealthy foods.