Meal planning seems like something for superorganized adults who have nearly perfect lives. Who else has the time and discipline to meal prep for the week on Sunday? But regular meal preparation is for everybody–or at least it can be.
Putting together and cooking meals for several days can be intimidating if you’ve never done it. It’s exhausting just to think about figuring out the right foods, the correct portions and finding the time to cook it all. Perhaps you don’t even know what “healthy eating” is. Here’s where a little focus and planning become your best friends. Thanks to the advice of two fitness gurus, you can be well on your way to eating better AND losing weight.
One stumbling block for many who embark on a healthy eating journey is figuring out exactly what to eat. According to nutritional coach and trainer Cliff Wilson, the more variety there is in a diet, the better success one will have adhering to it.
“There is no one food that is best to eat, and there are no foods that should really be off-limits,” Wilson says. “If you want to be as healthy as possible, then you should eat a variety of proteins, vegetables, fruits, dairy and grains. If you do that, you can even plan for some less-than-healthy snack options, in moderation.”
Fitness coach and professional bodybuilder Sunny Akhigbe agrees and lauds the benefits of meal planning.
“It saves time and money, and it is the best way to track intake and caloric regulations,” he says.
According to Wilson, planning ensures good results.
“The times when most people’s diets go wrong are when they have failed to plan,” he explains. “It’s not usually the intentional binge that derails people; rather, it’s the lack of planning that eventually leads to overeating.”
But is finding the time to prep really a burden?
“You need to prioritize your diet,” Wilson states.
Most people fail because if they are not honest with themselves, they really aren’t making it a priority. People often say that they ‘can’t’ stick to a plan due to their schedule or kids; however, if they were offered a million dollars to stick to a meal plan, then they could make it work.”
Another option is meal services, which offer ready-made nutritious food selections designed to make your life easier. If you decide to go that route, “Make sure they are established and have a rating with the Better Business Bureau,” advises Akhigbe. “Try and get testimonials on the quality of food as well as the taste. Make sure the establishment is clean and passes health inspections. If they state in their advertisement that they are using organic, whole foods, they need to be able to prove their statement by having available literature to reference.”
If you insist on DIY, devoting one or two days to cooking in bulk can save you time.
“This will reduce the number of days you must cook, the number of times you need to pull out the cooking utensils, the number of times you must clean up, etc.,” Wilson says.
Also, choosing options such as tuna, fruits and raw veggies as snacks are helpful and keeps meal prep simple.