A hectic weekly schedule is one of the top reasons people order takeout meals instead of dining at home. Unfortunately, these meals are also high in calories and cause weight gain and health issues over time.
Meal prep allows you to reach your weight loss goals by streamlining grocery shopping and relieving the stress of planning meals at the last minute. If you're trying to get in the habit of meal planning but finding it tough to make a consistent change, there are things you can do to get on the right track.
Keep reading this guide to learn seven tips that will help you make meal preparation a habit that sticks!
1. Create a Prep Schedule and Menu
To begin, you'll need to set aside at least an hour each week to create a meal plan and build a shopping list for the week. You can start this process by making a basic outline for dinners each night, then build your shopping list.
You'll also need to schedule a meal preparation day to prep as many dishes as possible. If it's too overwhelming to meal prep for the entire week in one day, you can start with three days worth of prep and then prepare the rest of your dishes day by day.
2. Organize Your Pantry and Take Inventory
A considerable part of meal planning is effectively using what you have on hand, so taking a thorough inventory of your food is essential. You can start by removing everything from the shelves and throwing out what's expired. As you're taking the items out of your pantry, start sorting them by categories such as:
- Canned goods
- Baking supplies
Next, take out any items that aren't used for cooking and store them somewhere else. This creates more breathing room in your pantry and allows you to easily see what you have on hand and what you need.
Use clear storage containers for foods like whole grains, rice, flour, sugar, cereal, and nuts. Storage containers keep your food fresher and save you time with your shopping list because you don't have to open up all the packages to see what you have left.
Once you have your pantry organized, you can make a list of your inventory.
3. Stock up on Healthy Meal Prep Essentials
Stocking up on the healthy essentials will help you stick to your meal plan and stay consistent with a healthy meal preparation routine overall.
You'll also save money because you'll be planning from your pantry essentials first when you're making your menu for the week. You can then stick to buying fresh items during your weekly grocery trip until you need to stock up again. Some staples you should have on hand include:
- Brown rice
- Dried beans
- Spices and herbs
- Olive oil and coconut oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Low sodium broth
- Canned tuna and salmon
You can also look at other low sodium canned goods like olives, tomatoes, artichokes, and fruit with no added sugar. Potatoes, dried fruit, and almond butter will also keep for a period of time and make for some great recipe ideas.
4. Have a Variety of Herbs and Spices on Hand
Herbs and spices can make all the difference in your meals, and the right spices can take your meal to the next level and give you more variety in your weekly menus.
Not only are herbs and spices fantastic flavor enhancers, but they have excellent health benefits too. They contain different plant compounds that reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of cancer.
Eating spicy foods frequently is also linked to lower rates of heart and respiratory disease. Spices like clove, rosemary, sage, oregano, and cinnamon are excellent sources of antioxidants and are easy to pick up at the grocery store.
If you don't have a lot of herbs and spices on hand to start with, try picking up a few jars of your favorites each week to build up your stock slowly.
5. Invest in Quality Storage Containers
Food containers are an essential tool for your meal planning. If you only have mismatched containers that are missing lids, you'll find the food prep process extremely frustrating and will be less likely to stick with it long-term.
It's well worth the time and money to invest in high-quality containers that you can use for freezing, microwaving, and food storage.
Make sure to choose containers that have dividers for different foods. Not only does this help with portion control, but you'll be able to pack in enough types of food to meet your daily nutritional requirements when you're on the go.
6. Include Each Food Group in Your Meal Plan
The healthiest meal plans include food groups like vegetables, legumes, whole grains, healthy fats, and high-quality proteins.
Eating a balanced diet helps you maintain a healthy weight, strengthens your immune system and increases your energy levels. This will also motivate you to stick to your meal plan even more.
Make it a habit to think about these food groups as you're meal planning each week, and if you're missing anything, make sure to fill in the gaps, so you're getting the nutrients you need.
7. Use a Meal Plan Service
Using a meal plan service not only saves you time, but you can also save money on ingredients when you're trying something new.
Sometimes people find it hard to stay on track with their meal planning because they lack the energy and time to plan menus and prep for the week.
A food preparation service like AthleticsFit has a variety of healthy menu choices that will suit your meal planning needs. You can choose vegetarian meals or a weight loss meal plan to help get you back on track with your weight loss goals.
The menus rotate each week, so you'll never get bored eating the same meals constantly. You'll also be able to view important nutritional information for each meal before placing your order.
Try a Meal Prep Delivery Service Today
If you're new to meal prep or having trouble finding the time to keep your meal planning consistent, it might be time to try a meal plan delivery service.
With AthleticsFit meal delivery, you can get high-quality meals with fresh ingredients delivered right to your door. AthleticsFit meals not only save you time, but they can also help you reach your fitness goals and improve your overall health and wellness.
If you have questions about how to get started with our meal service, make sure to contact us today!