Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Meal Prep





For as long as I can remember I have always been a snacker! I would much rather graze my way through the day than sit down and eat an actual meal.  Needless to say when I was trying to lose weight and the pounds weren’t coming off-- it was definitely due to over eating.  Once I joined my first challenge group and got a better idea of a healthy lifestyle, things finally started to make sense.  Meal prepping soon became the biggest factor in my successful eating habits, which led to a very healthy and successful weight loss!  The most important thing that I have learned is just because it is a healthier option doesn’t mean you can eat until your heart is content! With that being said meal prep is KEY! I meal prep my meals, snacks, EVERYTHING! Sundays and Thursday’s are my main days for meal prep.  I make enough to get me through most of the week, and if the weekend is jammed with plans, I definitely do extra prep on Thursdays just to make sure there are no slip ups.

First things first! Before we get started on meal prep you need to know what your serving size is! I follow the hand rule.  It’s much easier to remember than the old deck of cards, golf ball size, baseball size—yada yada yada idea.  So to start, take a look at your open hand-- your palm is the serving of your protein. Now make a cupped hand or a fist.  That is your serving of grains and fruits. Make two cupped hands and you got your serving size for veggies. Simple, right?  Now make a fist! This is the size of your stomach. Kind of puts things into perspective doesn’t it!? Now that you have the idea of your serving sizes specific to you, it’s time to put it to action and prep away and portion it all out!


Before we get into the cooking part we need containers to put all the deliciousness into! I use glass containers to help keep things fresh and because I don’t care for chemicals that may be in plastic containers. Not saying you HAVE to use glass, it’s just my personal preference. I use Glasslock Snapware because they are simple, keep foods fresh and are BPA free!



MEAL PREP ORGANIZATION

1.    Make a PLAN!  Find a recipe or two, decide on your fruits and veggies that sound yummy or are in season, make yourself a list and head to the grocery store.  STICK TO YOUR LIST! You are shopping SPECIFICALLY for these items to get you through the week. You do not need any extras, especially temptations. Remember, meal prep is for a week’s worth, not a day’s worth of food. So go prepared to get a bunch of food! Not just one little chicken breast! Remember you can always utilize your freezer! Costco is great for buying frozen chicken breasts. Just take out what you need!

2.    Once you’re ready to start your prep wash and rinse anything that may need it.  These are your fruits and veggies that keep their peeling on when consumed, foods that are not organic, and anything that has probably been handled by other people.  So in other words...WASH IT ALL! You never know what bacteria you can pick up just from foods not being washed and rinsed!

3.    Organize yourself. This one is huge for me. I always get caught up in what I’m doing and then jump right to the next thing. Meal prepping can be overwhelming, especially when you’re new to it and new to cooking, so take it one recipe and task at a time. This also makes things easier when it comes time for the dreaded clean up.

So you have your plan, you’re cooking your recipes, now let’s go over some easy tips for keeping things on hand for the week, especially snacks. Eating frequently throughout the day not only helps your metabolism, but it keeps your blood sugar steady so you don’t over eat when it’s meal time and so you don’t feel hungry or deprived throughout the day.  Meal prepping snacks is VERY important.  Like I said before, just because it is healthy, doesn’t mean you can eat it in unlimited quantities. Use sandwich bags for fruits and veggies or containers so they are portioned out; otherwise it is very easy to over eat fruits. I use a big container for meats though.

FOODS TO HAVE AT THE READY!

+ Raw/Steamed veggies –great to have cut up and ready to add to any salad, omelet or snack

+ Fruits portioned out into serving size bags-Remember fruit is made of sugar, though it is natural sugar it’s still sugar and should be eaten in moderation

+ Grilled chicken breasts (whole and diced) –perfect for meals, salads, even add to eggs for extra protein.

+ Lettuce-any kinds, mix a bunch of different kinds to get a boat load of vitamins! Chop, rinse and grab a handful-heck grab a couple handfuls and fill up!

+ Nuts portioned out into serving size bags –Nuts are very easy to over eat so portion them out!

+ Cooked beans- I use dry black beans, soak them and then cook them to keep the sodium level low and to add to literally anything for some added protein!

+ Hard boiled eggs- These are a staple in my fridge! When life gets busy and I need something quick I grab a couple of these and either just snack on them or add to a salad. They are very convenient to have handy.



Now that your foods are cooked, meals are portioned out, and dishes are done, rest assured knowing you have set yourself up for complete nutritional success for the week! No need to deviate from your well thought out plan! Just think, in two more weeks this will be a habit and the benefits of it all will be obvious! Remember it’s easier to go for a healthier option if they are available and ready to eat! Next time you find yourself standing in front of the fridge you’ll already have the work done! The hard part is over all you have to do is grab and go!





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