When you are trying to lose weight, you don’t want to end up in a situation where you open a fridge and be like:
If you come home from work at which all that you have been thinking about the whole day was what would be the best way to twist your boss’ head off and then set him on fire, ordering a goddamn pizza is so much more alluring than facing a reality of spending 30 minutes cooking a calorie-controlled meal.
Deciding what to eat when you are mentally fatigued after a long day at work or hungry is doomed to fail. You are going to eat something you will later regret or inhale half the fridge. Or both.
But if you already have a meal prepared in advance, there likely wouldn’t be any bad decisions. That’s where meal prep for weight loss comes into play and here are four steps to do it:
1. Create a meal plan for the upcoming day/days
Take 5-10 minutes to plan what and when you will eat.
I personally, like meal prepping for 3-4 days in advance rather than a full week because prepping for 6-7 days requires freezing and I don’t like that.
Also, my freezer is full of berries, veggies, mushrooms, and dead keto extremists. Can’t set them free. So can’t free up the freezer.
Some people like to meal prep for just one day. And that’s fine. If you have a schedule where you can put aside one hour a day to cook meals for the next day, it’s totally fine. If knowing that your diet is set for tomorrow gives you peace of mind, you are good.
Some of my clients are so advanced that they meal prep for 5-7 days in advance. And that’s fine too:
If you are just starting out with healthy eating and meal prepping, start small. Don’t get too excited. Don’t try to be “perfect.” Nail the basics first. Just prep some protein sources, veggies, whole grains, nuts, etc. Or if you struggle with, say, dinners, prep those only.
Don’t try to prep a whole week’s worth of food on your first attempt and then complain “Oh gosh, meal prep is so hard. It’s more like self-torture than self-improvement.”
Now, when creating a meal plan, I like to shop for 2-3 different options of each macronutrient—protein, carbohydrate, and fat because remember—I like to prepare meals for 3-4 days in advance.
So I will ask myself “Alrighty, you Pac-Man, what lean proteins do you want for the next three days?” And I may pick these:
Then I will pick 2-3 carbs such as these:
The same with fat sources:
Once I have all these, I mix and match them and come up with meal ideas. Obviously, I will have a bunch of veggies—both fresh and frozen—and fruits sitting in the fridge too.
2. Make one day of the week your meal prepping day
Look at your schedule and find the time where you know you have some free time. If you work Monday through Friday, Saturday or Sunday will work great. Spend that time cooking your meals.
Don’t leave it for the time when everything is hectic—your kids are whining that getting an asshole bleached would be much more fun than doing their homework, the cat is vomiting after eating your favorite flower, the tornado ripped the roof off your house.
Map out free time and do it when the sun is chirping, the birds are shining, and the water is wet. For me, those days are Sundays and Thursdays. That’s when I do the cooking.
3. Create a grocery list and do the shopping
You created a meal plan and you will go terrorize a grocery store for 2-3 of each macronutrient. We have settled that.
Now, sometimes your meal prep day will come around and your best friend will call you “Hey hun, Mike and I are coming over to your place tonight and we will have diets organized mostly around cocktails and extra-spicy Mexican food. You have no say in this one. We are coming over. See ya in 2 minutes.”
As a caring friend, you will now pray for something heavy to fall on her head. But just in case she survives and arrives, you need to have a backup plan because your meal prep will not happen.
You need to have foods that require little to no preparation for the upcoming days. Here are things that I always have in my house:
Every time my meal prep doesn’t happen, these more or less shelf-stable foods keep my diet on track. They take away excuses.
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you would blame something for ruining your meal prep day.
Further Reading: How To Build A Balanced Meal That Hits Your Macros
4. Do the meal prep
You picked protein, carbohydrate, and fat sources you want. Created a meal plan for the upcoming day/days and mapped out the meal prep day. You did your grocery shopping.
Now it’s time you employ your powers of cooking and do the whole meal prep thing. And that’s about it. I got nothing more about cooking, that is it.
If you get up in the morning and grab two chocolate bars on your way to work, the problem is the lack of planning.
If you get an artery-clogging-fat-loaded burger for lunch in a cafeteria because you didn’t bring a calorie-controlled lunch, the problem is the lack of planning.
If you grab a take-away meal on your way home from work, the problem is the lack of planning.
Having meals prepared in advance can make the difference in your diet between consistently losing weight and looking as if you had stuffed a pillow under your shirt.
So, I dunno, start meal prepping, maybe?
Originally published by me on Medium on October 31, 2021