I felt like it was about time I wrote a blog post on this subject considering how many friends have asked me for tips on how to start meal prepping! I started experimenting with meal prepping about two years ago and let’s just say I’ve only gotten the portioning down recently. Here are some tips from me to you 🙂
1). Eat Foods You Like
Eat more of the healthy, natural foods you like. If you’re not a fan of kale, don’t force yourself to eat kale salads. If you’re not a fan of bananas, don’t eat bananas. If you’re not sure what you like and don’t like, experiment with vegetables, proteins, and carbs you’ve never cooked with before! Step a little out of your comfort zone and if you find you’re not a fan of it, don’t cook with it again.
2). Portion Your Food Correctly
The rule of thumb is to make sure that at least half of your meal consists of vegetables! The darker the green, the more nutrients! By dark greens, I mean spinach and kale. Just a heads up if you’re trying to figure out which vegetables to eat, iceberg lettuce basically has no nutritional value, so skip that. 1/4 of your meal should be a carbohydrate and the other 1/4 should be protein.
Quick food portioning hacks:
-> The size of your open palm = protein
-> The size of your clenched fist = carbohydrates
-> Eat as many vegetables as you can enjoy per meal!
3). Buy The Right Sized Meal Prep Containers
This may sound like a dumb tip, but it’s really helpful when you’re trying to figure out the food portioning part. Don’t buy ginormous food containers if you don’t plan to fill them up all way and don’t buy small sizes that you can barely fit your meals in. They have meal prep containers in all different shapes and sizes! Costco or Amazon have some great options for you to look through– both plastic and glass options.
4). Don’t Cut Out Carbs
Yes, you heard me right. Unless you’re serious about a hardcore diet and think that the Keto Diet is right for you, don’t cut out carbs. What I do recommend is cutting down the portion of carbs you consume in every meal if you’re trying to lose weight. Go for complex carbs for more fiber in your diet!
Carb tips and facts:
-> Go for whole grain breads and pastas, brown rice, etc.
-> Avoid white breads, cakes, most pastries
-> White rice IS okay in moderation!
-> Starchy vegetables such as peas and broccoli are also considered complex carbs
5). Don’t Cut Out Anything Completely
Enjoy everything in moderation! By that I don’t mean to eat 3 donuts, 2 cheeseburgers, and chili cheese fries on a Friday night because you did so well earlier in the week. The easiest tip I can give you is if you decide to have a cheat meal, make sure the next meal after is a healthy one. Don’t let the second meal be a cheat because it’s easy to go back to the unhealthy habits you’ve been trying to work against.
6). Replace Processed Snacks with Healthier Alternatives
Protein bars are a great way to fill yourself up if you’re in a rush or on the go, but they’re very processed and have a ton of added sugar. If you can find time the night before to pack yourself a healthier snack, do that! Natural snacks are better for you and usually lower in calories.
-> Carrot sticks with light hummus
-> Cucumber slices with olive oil, salt, and pepper
-> Handful of unsalted nuts
-> Fresh fruit
-> Boiled eggs
7). Find An Eating Schedule That Works with Your Daily Routine
No, you don’t have to eat breakfast every day. If you always wake up with no appetite, you don’t need to force yourself to eat a big breakfast. Finding a routine that goes with your schedule is important! If you find yourself skipping meals because you don’t have time to eat, it’s a sign you need to start meal prepping and find the right schedule for you! I used to do intermittent fasting and I only ate between 11AM and 7PM, but my schedule was the same every single day and it was easy for me to follow it.
Eating schedule tips:
-> Don’t eat within 3 hours before bedtime
-> If you’re reaaaally hungry before bed, have a small unprocessed snack
-> Do your research before trying intermittent fasting
-> Bring multiple prepped meals with you if you’re always on the go
8). Count Your Calories
If you’re serious about losing weight, count your calories. If you’re not sure where to start, watch my quick video on how to calculate the right amount of calories for your body! The easiest way I count my calories is cooking most of my meals at home, or scanning the barcodes for the food that I buy. MyFitnessPal is the mobile app I use to keep track of what I eat day to day.
-> Eat the amount of recommended calories to maintain weight
-> Eat 300 calories over the recommended amount to gain weight
-> Eat 500 calories under the recommended amount to lose weight
With a lot of trial and error, you’ll get the hang of it! Don’t be discouraged if you burn things or over-salt your food. Don’t beat yourself up for going over your daily caloric intake. Don’t be too hard on yourself because life shouldn’t be about obsessing over your calories! Turn healthy habits into a lifestyle and you’ll thank yourself in the long run. If you have any more questions feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!