Last updated on January 22nd, 2019 at 02:09 pm
You know that your fitness dream takes some planning. This fitness dreamer can tell you that the number one solution to staying on track is know what, when and how you will work out, eat and recover.
The secret to dream fitness lies with meal planning.
The only times I have issues with staying on track with my goals is when I don’t plan my food. I may know when I’m working out which days this next week, and what exercises I am doing. But as soon as I skip meal planning it all goes out the window.
Life is busy. Making dinner every night is very time consuming. Having one day in the kitchen helps you stay on track with healthy eating.
The first push back statement I get when I talk to friends and clients about meal prepping is “I don’t want to eat the same thing every day”.
Good! Neither do I. Planning ahead does not mean “The same meal for all meals for this next week”. It simply means you were looking ahead, and planned out ahead, shopped and cooked ahead. And now, you are ahead of the game.
How to get started with meal planning.
What is meal prepping? Really it’s about thinking past what’s going on your plate for this one meal. Cook a little bigger, plan in bulk, and pack for the ready. Some people have a huge aversion to the concept of “left overs”. Here’s my outlook: It’s not left over if you are packing the meal up for later.
You can make as much as you would like – focus on dinners, lunch and dinners or all meals and snacks. Some people choose to shop and prep in one day. I typically gather ingredients throughout the week and pick a few hours on Sunday to cook it all up.
Tip: Have a lot of glass or plastic containers. If they are similar sizes an shapes, it makes stacking in the refrigerator much easier.
Prepping your meals ahead really starts with the planning. I am not a nutritionist and I probably like things you wouldn’t eat on a desert island. So plan for the foods you know you love. And if you’ve been meaning to try a new vegetable, use this as excuse to give a new recipe a try.
For every meal, make sure plan to include: Protein + Vegetable + Starch
Ready to cook? Gather all the ingredients you will need, set out all the veggies and meat, and let’s get going.
I start with the food that will take the longest to cook. Most of the time this is the protein for the week. My favorites are chicken breast, ground turkey or beef, or pork. I like to keep the seasoning to minimum so that protein can be used in salads, hot meals, or whatever else sounds good throughout the week. Prep all the protein first and get that cooking.
While the protein is cooking, prep the vegetables. Vegetables are my favorite to mix up. I go through phases of simply steaming veges, but the latest is roasting everything. It’s amazing how a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and a little time in the oven makes every vegetable delicious. I do this with cauliflower, broccoli, green beans and brussel sprouts. I have yet to find a vegetable that doesn’t turn out amazing by roasting it.
Pick your starches from high quality whole grain and complex carbohydrates. You want to have good fuel to choose from for your week. Lately I am loving sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa. I treat the starches the same as the protein options. Keep the seasoning simple so you can use in a variety of ways in individual meals.
Meal planning means you are prepared for success.
You have a couple options once all this cooking is done. You can put everything in individual containers for separate meals now, or wait to pack it up until the night before. Depending on what the meal is, I might wait and keep everything separated out until packing it up for the next day.
Why pack the night before?
- Guarantees you think about all your meals
- Gives you time to plan your day out
- Let’s you see right then if you have gaps in your meal plan
I have to hear what you think in the comments. Is this something you do already? Do you think meal planning is nuts? What are some of your favorite food choices for prepping ahead?
Go get your fit on!
Heather Montgomery is a fitness writer, triathlete, and serial entrepreneur who is devoted to sharing what she has learned about becoming a triathlete after age 40. She uses her Metabolic Training Certification to help other women struggling to get fit in mid-life. She lives and trains in Santa Rosa, California, the new home of the Ironman triathlon. You can find her biking the Sonoma County wine trails.
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