How to Meal Plan and Prep and Hit Your Goals
Planning can help you reach your goals for both nutrition and exercise. A good meal plan can help streamline healthy eating and motivate you to stick to it even when motivation wanes. Here you will learn how to plan and prep your meals ahead of time to help you reach your goals for fitness or weight loss.
Meal planning and prepping them ahead of time can help reduce decision fatigue, save you time and even reduce temptation to reach for foods that are not aligned to your goals. The right diet can help you lose weight, lose fat or build muscle, but each of us has different nutritional requirements.
Planning your meals will not only help you create meal plans that work for you, but they are also a great way to track if your diet is working or not. This guide will help you with meal planning and meal preparation, so you can hit your goals.
Step 1 - Keeping your goals in mind, make a list of healthy foods you enjoy. Keep the list organized with proteins, vegetables, fruits, grains and fats. If you need help, simply look online for the right nutrition and best foods to reach your goals and use those to create your lists, which will then be used to create your meals and shopping list.
Step 2 – Based on your favorite foods list, make another list of recipes for breakfast, mid-day and evening meals that appeal to you. Keep in mind that simple meals are easier to follow. For example, protein and salad makes a nutritious and energizing mid-day meal, while scrambled eggs and greens or a protein drink with yogurt and berries makes a quick and healthy breakfast.
Step 3 – Create a spreadsheet using a diary, tracking app or download one from online. Some stores carry food diaries, while many online sources offer blank weekly meal planners. Fill in the menu with your planned meals from above and don’t forget to include easy but healthy snacks like Greek yogurt or cut veggies.
Step 4 – Create your grocery list for a week. While shopping, pay attention to nutrition and focus on whole foods for healthy weight loss. For example, choose organic vegetables when you can and opt for frozen vegetables if you need to. Try to change your proteins each week for variety, and don’t forget to include healthy, whole grains like brown rice and quinoa for an economical way to round out your nutrition.
Step 5 – Designate a day to prepare your meals ahead of time. Some people prefer using a day when they don’t work while others do this right after shopping. And still others meal prep only the vegetables after shopping and then prep meals ahead of time on a day off.
Helpful tip: When you prepare your vegetables, wash and cut them into serving sizes. Prepare salads ahead of time so you can grab a handful for lunch or as an evening appetizer. Use a slow cooker to prepare and freeze meals and cook proteins ahead of time so they are easy to heat and eat.
Meal planning and prepping are great tools that can help you stick to your nutrition goals. Fortunately, it is easy to find meal plans with grocery lists to guide you until you are ready to experiment with your own. And when fitness or weight loss is your goal, a meal plan may be your best friend.