Meal Prep 101 (Special Guest Blog)

Today I have the pleasure of posting a special guest blog courtesy of my friend and professional colleague Tosha Bailey.  Tosha is the owner and health transformation specialist at the Mix EduKitchen & Fitness in Atlanta,Georgia USA. Tosha is a graduate of the University of Florida and her professional credentials include NASM Certified Personal Trainer, TRX level 1,New Leaf Metabolic Specialist), SCW Lifestyle and Behavior Coaching and NESTA Certified Personal Fitness Chef.

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Tosha can be contacted via her business Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MixKitchenFitness/info/

Many of us have overly busy lives and often turn to eating meals out or eating quick processed foods instead of planning and cooking them. By taking the time to focus on planning and creating healthy nutrition habits, you will not only get and stay fit, but you will also improve your long-term health, save money and even prevent future disease. Here are a few tips for good meal planning to keep up with our busy lives.

Plan Your Meals for the Week
On Saturday or Sunday, make a list of the meals you would like to eat for the coming week. Take a look at your upcoming week to see if you have any dinner events and/or long days/evenings ahead. If you have a dinner event, no need to prep for that day, and if you have a long day on Wednesday, make extra from another meal so that you don’t have to worry about cooking, nor do you have the temptation to order out.

Next, consider foods that you’re craving and look up recipes for healthier versions of those meals. This way, you will make meals that you are excited about. If all else fails, log on to Pinterest, type in “healthy meals” and let your eyes do the picking. Humans are visual creatures when it comes to food. Find something that looks amazing, takes less than 40min to cook and put it on your meal plan for the week.

For easy lunch options, make an extra dinner portion and take the additional for lunch the next day.

For breakfast, many choose to eat the same meals because it’s quick and easy. Fast breakfast options include: Green protein smoothies, from scratch egg muffins, oatmeal, Greek yogurt with berries and egg and spinach breakfast burrito.

Remember to choose balanced meals, meaning a balance of lean protein sources, mostly single ingredient carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, good fats and fiber.
From there, create a grocery list of the items you will need. Planning this one grocery trip to get enough to last you a week or even two weeks, can save you time and money.

Dedicate a Few Hours for Preparation and Cooking Time 
Now that you have all your ingredients and recipes planned out, you can start cooking or at least prepping so that all you have to do is quickly put the meal together and cook it in10min or less. This type of prepping includes chopping vegetables, roasting vegetables, baking and wrapping potatoes in foil, as well as making and marinating meats (freeze meats in marinade if you won’t cook meats within 2 days).

If you are not a big fan of daily cooking and/or want to save time throughout the week, set aside a couple hours one or two days a week to cook several meals at once. On these two days, cook enough for lunch and dinner for the following few days. Be sure to undercook the meats slightly so that they don’t try out and get tough with reheating.

It’s Not Glamorous…But It’s Necessary 
I realize this is not glamorous (and probably not your idea of fun), but it is so crucial to eating for your goals throughout the workweek. Just trust me that every hour you spend preparing healthy, nutritious meals in advance, will eliminate four (or more) hours of additional exercise you would otherwise have to do to counteract the negative impact of eating “convenience” foods that don’t serve you or your goals.

Pack in Tupperware
After you have prepared enough meals to last you a couple of days, separate the servings into individual sized Tupperware containers.  Put a couple in the refrigerator (3 days worth) and the rest in the freezer. This way you can easily grab one on your way out the door to work to have for lunch. These do not have to be the same meals, mix and match them. You can also do this with salads and pack the dressing separately. Also, look into packing your salads in Mason jars to help with freshness and maintaining crispy greens.

Use Meal Replacement Bars and Shakes for Meals on the Go
Both bars and shakes are excellent way to get in calories on the go. Two of my favorite “go to” bars/cookies that are delicious and have good nutrition are Quest Bars and Lenny & Larry’s Cookies. There are a lot of different flavors and bound to be one that you enjoy! While some Quest Bar flavors have sucralose, the good definitely outweighs the bad. Another brand that I like is Larabar. They are wholesome with few ingredients, but they don’t have a lot of protein. So, this is more of a snack bar vs meal bar. 
For shakes, there are so many brands and flavors. Some of my favorite brands: IronTek (whey/casein), Bodylogix (whey), Vega (vegan), Raw Meal (vegan), Orgains (vegan).

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