Did your meal prep start strong in 2022 just to take a nose-dive a few weeks later? We’re here to help you regain your motivation with a few tested and true recommendations to keep your nutrition habits consistent as you work towards your health goals.
Preparing meals for the week is a protocol we often recommend to clients to help develop healthy eating habits and remain consistent with caloric intake over time. Meal prepping is helpful in regaining control over what goes into your body by preparing meals in advance with a plan in mind. Without a solid meal plan, it can be difficult to stay within a calorie range necessary to reach a body composition or overall health goal. In some cases, a lack of plan can lead to inaction or indecision which often results in poor nutritional choices. We end up mindlessly eating too many calories, or we wait too long to eat and the strength of our hunger signals overpowers our desire to stay on track, also known as the “scramble and splurge.” Meal prepping can help avoid the pitfalls of sticking to a nutrition plan, but it can also be tedious over time and lead to burn out. Below are our top tips to regain motivation and remain consistent with meal preparation and smart nutrition choices.
Tip #1: Forget Sundays
When starting a meal prep habit, it’s often advised to take time before the week starts to cook bulk ingredients and assemble meals. We’ve found that Sundays are typically the most common day to devote to meal prepping. However, taking time away from an otherwise relaxing weekend or saying “no” to plans with friends or family to meal prep can take away from other important things in life. If you are feeling burned out on weekends and do not want to spend your valuable free time cooking, schedule “mini” prep sessions twice a week, for instance on Mondays and Thursdays, so you have less work to do each day and your meals will be fresher throughout the week.
Tip #2: Invest in new packaging
One of the more overlooked hurdles in meal prepping is how to store cooked food. It can be discouraging when old Tupperware containers are warped or lids have disappeared in the depths of the kitchen cabinets. In the case of meal prepping, motivation can come with a little help from organization. It’s worth investing in a few high-quality storage containers to avoid the frustration that comes with packaging up food. We especially recommend containers with sections to keep main dishes and sides separate for even more organization and portion control.
Tip #3: Explore new protein sources
There is nothing more boring than cooking boiled chicken for weeks on end, but a good meal prep strategy has a consistent source of protein in each meal. Protein is necessary for muscle fiber synthesis and many metabolic and cellular functions of the body, but options can feel limited. Spruce up your protein portions by learning how to prepare other high-quality sources like tempeh, lentils, seafood, or mushrooms (yes, mushrooms have protein!).
Tip #4: Give it a rest
Meal prepping can slowly become a dreaded activity, especially without variety in recipes or switching up the day you prep. It’s ok to give it a rest if you feel burned out on cooking. Taking a much needed break can help revive motivation and keep you more consistent over the long-term with healthy eating habits. Lean on others to help prepare food or look into meal delivery services with options that closely align to the menu that fits in your nutrition plan. With a solid break, you may find you come back even more excited to prepare your own food and to see positive changes in your health.
Sticking to a strategic nutrition plan means taking meal preparation into your own hands. While it’s important to say consistent over time, it’s also important not to fall into the trap of perfectionism. Putting too much pressure on yourself to prepare meals perfectly each week can quickly lead to burn out for most, which can lead to a complete deviation from a health goal. Be easy on yourself, lean on your intuition, and change things up if you feel a certain “dread” come over you when thinking about preparing meals. The habits you make now will serve you and your health for life, develop them wisely!