Food Preparation Tips

Food Preparation Tips

Whether you are an athlete, a gym rat, or just a busy adult trying to live a healthier lifestyle, food preparation is key in helping to maintain optimal health and positive eating habits. Whether you are aiming to eat clean, Paleo, vegetarian, gluten free, or just making small healthier changes, it is important that you plan accordingly.

food prparations

The everyday hustle and bustle that is life in our current society and the conveniently located fast food restaurants on every corner further challenge our attempts at living better and eating in such a way to maximize our health. Planning meals and snacks ahead of time is an integral part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle but can prove to be a challenge, especially when just starting out on a health and fitness journey.

Here are some tips to help you get started incorporating food planning and preparation into your weekly schedule as part of reaching your health and fitness goals:

1. Purchase enough plastic containers to house lunches and dinner for a full week.

purchase plastic

Make sure you also have some smaller containers or zip lock bags for snacks. Properly storing your food will help it to stay fresh and taste better.


2. Measure out your portions ahead of time.

Measure out and package each of your meals individually in containers (proteins, carbs, and fats.)

Use a food scale and measuring cups to ensure that you are providing yourself the correct calories and nutrients for your individual goals.

Even if you plan on eating some of your meals at home, having them already portioned out ahead of time will not only keep the food fresh and easy to grab on the run, but will also help you to stay on target with your calorie goals and prevent the urge to eat more than one serving at a time.

measure out portions

3. Invest in an insulated lunch bag or small ice chest.

If you will be away from home for much of the time you can take your food along with you to work, school, etc. This will also come in handy for business trips and vacations. Having your food with you on the go will help ensure that you don’t end up at a drive through if a meeting runs long or you get stuck in traffic.

make out a list

4. Make a list of all needed ingredients before going to the grocery store.

Plan all your meals and make a list of all the ingredients you have already and those you will need to purchase from the store beforehand.

Getting home and realizing that you do not have enough of something to make all your meals accordingly, is setting yourself up for a day where you will likely end up at a drive-thru eating something that you may regret.

5. Plan a menu of easy and tasty recipes.

Choose recipes that are tasty (you will likely eat the same things over and over) and that you can also prepare large amounts of at one time. Food preparation will be a lot less taxing if you only have to make a couple of different recipes rather than something different for each day.

tasty recipe

Simple spice rubs and tasty sauces that can be used to flavor multiple types of meats and veggies are great for adding flavor without tons of extra calories. Just be sure to read labels of any that you do not make from scratch as marinades and spice rubs often contain added sugars or preservatives that you will want to avoid.

6. Buy in bulk. Stock up on big ticket items like meats and fresh produce when they go on sale.

When you find chicken or fish on a great sale, stock up, buying enough to cook for the week’s meals and freezing the rest for future weeks. Visit your local farmer’s market to nab large bunches of produce at great prices and you will often find organic and pesticide-free choices while supporting your local community.

It is also a good idea to stock up on frozen veggies so you always have something green on hand for the times when fresh produce is just not an option. Frozen vegetables also tend to be nearly as nutrient-rich as their fresh counterparts, and more so in some circumstances.

big ticket meats

7. Pick a day for prepping meals each week and stick to your schedule.

Getting into the habit of knowing which day you will shop and which day or days you will prepare your food will help you stay on track. If you try to “wing it” on a weekly basis you may find yourself “too busy” and then have days where you don’t have healthy food on hand and it will be easier to slip off track, making unhealthy choices. Commit to your planning day and make the time to prep your food, you will thank yourself in the long run.

8. Plan your "cheat" meal in advance.

Consider planning your “cheat” meal in advance and work it into your food schedule if you intend to have one. This will ensure that you won’t end up wasting food you prepared and you will have a treat to look forward to as a reward for eating according to your plan.

cheat meals

Also, planning for a special meal will keep you from feeling guilty if you didn't plan for it and ended up steering of course from your meal plan anyway. Making your “cheat” at the end of the week is also a great way to encourage yourself to stay on track the other days.

If you know that you have plans to go out with friends over the weekend or a special event coming up, you may want to elect that to be your cheat meal.

That way you will not feel left out when your friends are all ordering indulgent dishes off the menu while you are sneaking away to eat your tupperware meal.

When first starting out with meal planning and preparation, it is easy to become overwhelmed and want to just say “forget it” and give up on the whole thing.

But if you can stay motivated and stick with it, you will find that in a few weeks time it will have become habit and not planning your meals in advance will seem strange.

diffrent veggies

Start with simple recipes and play around with trying different veggies and sides each week. Mixing up your menu by simply changing out your starches or veggies every other week is a great way to avoid becoming bored with your food and being tempted to abandon your plan.

Also, playing with new recipes can help you figure out what works best for you and your family as well as which foods reheat well, and which ones keep longer than others. Check out our sample meal plan to help get you started this week and that much closer to reaching your goals. Happy planning!

reheat foods
Do you do food preparation at your house? What are some strategies you employ to make this process smoother, or what are some challenges that you have encountered with meal planning?

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