It’s improvement season and dieting is hard. We all have different goals, different priorities and have to put energy to many things. Read how I diet during busy season & on bodybuilding improvement season
You are stronger than you think. Even when facing challenges, you can achieve amazing results. And you deserve to treat yourself. Try out this Kodiak Brownie Cookie Dough Cake recipe, featuring ingredients like Kodiak cake mix, Greek yogurt cream cheese and honey!
Carbs are neither good nor bad. They are necessary. Read how to make them work for you and your goals!
Meal prep and GO! That’s all it takes.
OK, in reality, it takes a bit more than that. I know from experience. However, like anything, you have to reach a point where you are willing to dive in, head first, and start. If you don’t, you will keep telling yourself you either might not have time, don’t have money for healthy foods or you are doing OK at selecting healthy foods or resisting temptations on your own.
It has been nearly one year since I began focusing on meal preparations and dieting, specifically for my body building shows. Whether you are training for a contest or not, I still think meal prep has aided tremendously in how much time I save. It has helped me better budget grocery expenses on a weekly and monthly basis. It has heightened my awareness about nutrition, serving sizes and food labels. All of these takeaways and more have maintained my interest and investment into the meal prep ideology.
Forewarning: it might feel weird or unnatural when you start making adjustments for meal preparations. However, do not let that set you back or scare you. I have had many friends reach out to me about my health and how to begin. I’d now like to share five steps to meal prepping for beginners.
Step 1: Research and reach out
The Internet is a glorious thing. When I began meal prepping, I immediately typed in www.Pinterest.com and began searching keywords like “beginner meal prep”, “meal prep tips”, “meal prep dinners” and more. There are so many resources available, it is hard to know where to start! Here are a few I found helpful. All of them include other tips on traveling or organizing food for preparation.
1. I Struggle With Meal Preps and Healthy Recipes
2. Tips on How to Meal Prep
3. How to Food Prep
4. Tips for Traveling With Food
5. Video on Traveling With Food
6. Printable Meal Prep 101 Poster
7. Video below on Meal Prep with Bite Sized Fitness
Step 2: Create a plan
Now that you have scoured the Internet or bugged your healthy nut friend for recipes and tips, it is time to take steps towards your meal prep endeavors. Like any goal, creating a plan is a step to empower you.
If you hired a meal planner, nutrition coach or dietician, this is the part that they can take ownership. However, if you want to manage and try food selections on your own, you have to make a plan.
Start with a list of meals for one week. Write them down, whether it’s on a calendar or spreadsheet. Then, go from there! It might be easier to go one week at a time. Depending on if you will be cooking for one (like I do) or a family, that can adjust how many meal options you want and need and what ingredient options you have. As mentioned in probably all of the links I shared, you need to know what you want to make before you purchase ingredients, storage containers or cooking utensils and necessities.
Step 3: Purchase and organize equipment
|Just some overnight oats. Recipe in post from Oct. 2015.|
Yes, I called it “equipment”. Let’s be real, it can be daunting going into Target or William Sonoma (love that store) to purchase kitchen supplies. If you devised your plan in step 2, you will know approximately what foods you like, will be cooking and how they might need stored.
For example, if you will be making overnight oats every day of the week, it might make sense to get round, glass containers with lids to stack in the refrigerator. If you will be doing more salads or vegetable and meat combinations, stackable plastic Rubbermaid or Tupperware is a great option. I’ve also seen people use Ball glass canning jars for storing salads to keep lettuce and greens fresh all week and to store all ingredients per salad in one container. Once again, so many ideas are out there… what did we ever do without Pinterest? 😀
The one mistake I made starting out was not buying enough tupperware. Also, get a lot of smaller storage containers. If you want to separate nuts, oils, dressings, or other small food items, it is helpful to get small options too. Who wants to waste plastic baggies all the time?
Step 4: Grab your lists, coupons and shop
One of the best advantages I’ve found from meal prepping is how much less time I spend wandering the grocery store. I do not spend money carelessly for ingredients or foods I spontaneously want. I stick to my list and get in and out of the store efficiently.
If you work with a conservative budget, this is where your plan comes in. If you clip coupons and scout local advertisements for sales on food, you can focus your meals on what is on sale and available in stores. Maybe you were thinking asparagus but see the brussels sprouts will be on sale. Swap them out! I also make the same route in the store, starting with produce and working my way through meats and dairy/eggs and back to the cash register.
Consistency is key.
Step 5: Cook, prepare and store
Cooking and preparing your meals is the fun part, at least for me! You do not have to cook all the meals at once. You can simple organize and prepare ingredients in the same container. Then, when you go to maybe cook dinner for the family, you just grab the containers with those ingredients and bam! No more indecision about “ho hum, what can I cook the family for dinner tonight?” You are ready to go!
Most times, you will need more storage in the fridge after separating out meals. However, if you cook enough in bulk, you can also freeze foods for later. This space is totally worth it when you can save time, money, focus on health goals and provide yourself and/or family yummy, healthy food options.
What other advise would you like to see around meal prepping and healthy eating?
Would love to hear your feedback and thoughts!
It was never difficult to find beef for meal options growing up. Not only did my family raise our own beef cattle [and still do], but we would often use our own cuts of meat to create home-cooked recipes for my mom, dad, sister and me. Beef was a staple item in my diet growing up. I was a cute little 9 year old with my first beef feeder calf named “Buddy”. Raising my own calf with the intent of harvesting him for my nourishment taught me a lot growing up. It gave me a strong appreciation for food and lifestyle.
Like many, changes in finances, location and life situations can alter our diets. In college, I suffered beef deprivation. I was not consuming as much beef while studying at the university. Part of that was finances and other part proximity and meal frequency. I also had no clue how to cook steaks.
I’m still working on that. Dad always grilled them for the family growing up. It kept things simple. Mom and I would prepare the side dishes inside while he got the steaks ready. Now that I am a college graduate, you would think I knew a bit more about beef preparations.
It’s a work in progress. Lucky for me, I am enjoying steak on a daily basis during this prep for my next bodybuilding show. I do not own a grill [yet]. Therefore, I have been experimenting different recipes, temperatures and timing combinations to cook a great steak to eat with my vegetables. Sunday is my meal preparation day and I had to go to the grocery to get my steaks.
Not so long ago, I could not have imagined buying beef from a store. Why did I need to? We usually had freezers filled to the brim with beef! It was easy to select the cuts for different recipes and prepare it. Because of that luxury I had growing up, I am more particular when shopping for my meat. No, not necessarily regarding the current lingo like “grass fed” or “antibiotic free”. Instead, it’s about the marbling, nutrient-dense protein that I need to fuel my body. I cannot necessarily track the individual steer or heifer the steak I buy in the meats section came from. But I can trust the food system we have in place that the store, the manufacterer, the processer and the farmer or rancher have provided me [the consumer] a healthy, nutritious steak.
That’s what eat is about, right? Providing necessary nutrients to sustain our body. Beef is full of vitamins! Check out this great infographic from the Beef Checkoff.
It’s nice to know the steak I eat is enriching my body. How are you fulfilling your meat-filled Monday? Any special steak recipes you know? Mine was pretty simple this time with Weber seasoning, 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes.
Mmmmmmm, FOOD! Who does not like food? Seriously? It is funny because I have grown up surrounded by food options my entire life. Dang, I’m lucky. I’m so very thankful for food.
It nourishes my body. It comforts me. It brings people together. God has blessed me with it.
But guess what else? It causes wars. It creates food fights, miscommunication and manipulation. It causes gluttony and unhealthy choices. It could destroy us.
How can we focus on the first three things food does for people and not let the latter things happen? Over the past several years, humans [and especially Americans] have become spoiled. Today, 1 farmer can feed 155 people versus 1 farmer feeding 24 people in the 1920s. The food industry is booming! There is so much variety and options in the marketplace, and many humans have lost control of themselves.
***Disclaimer, not everyone is like this. Heck, I used to be! However, it seems to be the majority. We go out to eat, buy fast, quick and processed foods. Many of these are labeled “natural” and “healthy”. Everything can be healthy, in moderation. But most do not. It is hard to avoid what comes easy. Humans want simple. The food industry has seen and met that need. Now what?
If we are so blessed and thankful for food, how can we improve or adhere to balance, happiness and nourishment these next few weeks and months of holidays? How can we learn to give, help and appreciate all the food we have?
Since competing in my body building show, I experience food differently. Food is emotional. I have learned to look at it in a different way. Can you? And can you share it with others, too? I’m all about the carbs. But, there has to be a balance and understanding of everything so that my carbs are not better or lesser than yours. Be thankful for the food options we have. Enjoy them, within reason. 🙂