As a lover of exercise, I tend to slack on the nutrition side of things thinking that if I just burn every calorie I’ll be fine! Newsflash: it just doesn’t work that way. When you hear people say that healthy living and weight management requires 20% (some say 30%) exercise and 80% nutrition, believe them. Especially as we get older, our health and waistlines truly start to mirror what we put in our bodies. If you eat clean, lean foods, it will show. If you eat fatty, non-nutritious foods, you’ll start to see that on the outside as well.
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If you’re looking to improve your nutrition, one of the best ways to keep your meals in check is through meal prep. It’s a not-so-new phenomenon that your mom probably used when she baked a huge pot roast at the beginning of the week and served it up in multiple variations all week long. With meal prep, you can prepare all your foods for the week so that there are no surprises, fewer temptations, and lots of healthy, delicious foods to eat all week long! If you don’t know where to start with meal prepping, keep on reading for 4 steps to get you on your way!
Step 1: Make a Menu
This step is similar to writing an outline before you dive into a serious essay. The easiest way to figure out what foods to put on your grocery list is to make a menu of several dishes you want during the week. I like to make two large dinner options, a light lunch, and keep breakfast really simple. Make sure your menu covers you for about 5 days, which means 5 breakfasts, 5 or 10 snacks, 5 lunches, and 5 dinners. For breakfast, you could make a pot of oatmeal, or bag up smoothie ingredients for 5 days. For lunch, you could make a large soup and add a salad, or use the protein from your dinner to top a salad or sandwich. I usually grab a few pieces of fruit or yogurt for snacks, and sometimes a few protein bars to jazz it up. Then for dinner, I always make two dishes, like a large piece of fish, and several chicken breasts because I don’t like to eat the same dinner 5 days straight. And there you have it! Your menu can be as fancy or simple as you want it. Here’s my most basic meal plan menu below:
- Sample Menu:
- Breakfast: Crockpot Oatmeal; Green Smoothie (5 days)
- Snacks: Assorted Fruit, Nuts and Yogurt; Boiled Eggs (5 days)
- Lunch: Salad with Chicken; Turkey Burger with salad (5 days)
- Dinner: Salmon, Green Beans, and Couscous; Turkey Chili w/ Spinach (2-3 days each)