MEAL PREP 101: TIPS FOR PLANNING HEALTHY MEALSJuly 16, 2015 5:09 pm
It’s time to start eating right! With bikini season at your doorstep, you might be on the lookout for some direction to accomplish the feat of healthy living in the most pain-free (and quick!) way. But don’t fret: with HBfit’s great meal prep basics, you’ll be well on your way to achieving that healthy lifestyle you desire. Here are some meal planning tips and tricks to get you on the right track.
Pick a Day
Meal prepping is an integral part in the journey to a healthier you. Having your meals made in advance means that you will be less likely to reach for quick, convenient and often unhealthy varieties of food while going about your day. In order for that to work, however, you’ll need to dedicate a day of the week to plan, shop for and prepare the ingredients that will make up your meals. To get used to the process, try not to overwhelm yourself by cooking a full week’s worth of meals at once! Try starting with 3-4 days worth. Sunday is usually the best day for meal-outlook planning shopping, and prepping because it will help set the tone for the rest of the week. Don’t limit yourself to this, however, stick with whatever day works best for your schedule and factor in things like transportation and peak busy hours at your local grocery shop.
So you’ve locked in your meal prep day, nice work! Now comes the process of planning your meals. Again, be careful not to overwhelm yourself, but keep in mind that having a comprehensive plan will ensure that you make the best and tastiest choices for the week. For extra inspiration, pick up a cute notebook to document your meal prep and write down each breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks you will be eating over the course of the week (or 3-4 days)—this will be great down the road to log your favorite recipes. Then jot down the ingredients you will need, along with the quantity you’ll need over that period.
It may also be helpful to look up some recipes to fuel your fire (check out a couple of our favorite chicken and brown rice recipes). Try to stick to ones that you know you will enjoy—a commitment to plain chicken and steamed carrots everyday is likely dynamic enough to satisfy your tummy!
Although shopping seems like an easy task (we could do it in our sleep), meal prep shopping is not as simple as just heading to the grocery store. Ensure that you stick to your plan—and only your plan. This will prevent you from throwing unwanted and unnecessary items into your cart, saving you money and keeping you on track. Before you make your first trip out, also make sure you have enough Tupperware containers in your arsenal to satisfy each your meals and snacks (you’ll need at least 10). Having a few mason jars on hand for breakfasts like overnight oats doesn’t hurt either.
Don’t forget that you are meal prepping to make your week easier—not more stressful or complicated! Allow yourself a few hours to organize and create your meals. It may be helpful to start with your breakfast first. Baking muffin tin breakfast quiches is a delicious and healthy option for the first meal of the day. For 8 to 12 quiche breakfast muffins, preheat your oven to 375° and mix nine eggs with one bag of baby spinach, one chopped onion, one cup of cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of olive oil. Pour into a lined muffin tin and bake for about 15 minutes. Yum, insta-quiche. For more inspiration, check out some other great breakfasts that will fit into your meal plan!
If you’re looking at keeping a lean meat diet for both lunch and dinner with chicken breast or fish, things can get a bit bland when you’re eating the same(ish) meal on the daily. Instead of using the boring “salt, pepper and lemon” chicken recipes, spice it up with zesty flavors like paprika, cumin, saffron and oregano. We love a sweet and savoury chicken: preheat the oven to 350° and coat your chicken breasts for the week in a mix of brown sugar, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, oregano and minced garlic. Then bake for 20 minutes—it’s as simple as that. This chicken pairs deliciously with cauliflower rice and some fresh chopped vegetables.
Smart Snacks to Have Ready
While having your meals prepped for the week will jump start a healthy routine, it can be difficult to avoid snacking (mmm chips). Instead of trying to quit this habit cold turkey, incorporate snacks into your meal prep. Doing so will help keep your energy up and your stomach growl-free throughout the day.
Prepping your snacks can be as simple as portioning out some almonds, cashews and dried fruit into a small Tupperware container and as “complicated” as freezing portioned smoothie ingredients in advance to make the blending process easier during your busy week. For a snack that packs a punch, try a Power Berry Smoothie: in a blender, combine one cup of frozen mixed berries, ½ a banana, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, ½ cup of water, ¼ cup low fat plain yogurt, and 1 teaspoon honey. Snackables like crunchy chickpeas also give your body the protein it needs in a convenient and transportable size.
As it turns out, thinking ahead has never been more beneficial—especially when shaping the meals you’re eating means that you can better control your health, lifestyle and body image. Happy meal planning!