Take a scroll through Instagram and Pinterest in search of healthy eating tips and you’ll soon find that if fat loss is what you seek, than meal prep is where to start. Not familiar with meal prep? It’s when you make a batch of properly portioned and nutritiously balanced meals at one time so that you can easily eat right all week long.
Avoid a Meal Prep Mistake
What’s great about meal prep is it’s an efficient approach to cooking that ensures you won’t make bad food choices based purely on cravings and convenience. But for all its benefits, snafus happen whether you’re a cooking-in-advance newbie or old pro. Avoid common meal-prep mistakes to stay on track with your fat loss goals without simultaneously sabotaging your results.
Meal Prep Mistake 1: No Plan
Cooking a week’s worth of meals requires juggling lots of pots and pans with foods in larger quantities than the single meal you typically prepare.
The Fix: Prep before you meal prep. Make a plan based on recipes, how much food to make, how long to cook, and how much space you have to do it in (remember, the oven and fridge only holds so much).
Meal Prep Mistake 2: Biting Off More Than You Can Chew
It would be wonderful to have all your meals and snacks planned for the entire week so that you don’t have to worry about cooking each day, but that many meals for one person (let alone a spouse and children) can be a burdensome task.
The Fix: Ease into it. Start with preparing one meal a week, such as lunches to bring with to work. Build up to more meals as ready, with the goal of avoiding total burn out.
Meal Prep Mistake 3: Limited Storage and Space
Food storage containers can take up more space in the fridge and freezer than expected–and that’s if you have enough containers for all the food you just made.
The Fix: See how many empty containers can fit into the space you have and make the number of meals accordingly.
Meal Prep Mistake 4: Portion Problems
Prepping food may avoid having to eat out or make unhealthy last-minute choices, but if the portions you pack aren’t appropriate for your fat loss goals, the effort may be all for naught.
The Fix: Have scales and measurement cups on hand to make sure you aren’t packing portions according to the food storage container alone.
Meal Prep Mistake 5: Mindless Munching
With so much food around on prep day, it’s easy to be snacking on this and that without even noticing.
The Fix: Just as you shouldn’t go to the grocery store on an empty stomach, don’t meal prep when hungry. Eat first, prep second.
Meal Prep Mistake 6: Skimping on Produce
With not much room in storage containers, it’s easy to be short on fresh veggies, greens, and fruit.
The Fix: Consider using multiple containers or baggies to make sure produce makes up the biggest portion of the meal.
Meal Prep Mistake 7: Skipping Snacks
One packed lunch is not enough to sustain your day.
The Fix: Avoid setting yourself up for failure by packing snacks to help fuel you through the day and keep hunger at bay. Baggies of grapes, almonds, and cherry tomatoes are easy to tote when on the go.
Prep Mistake 8: Going on Autopilot
Prepping the same meals each week will allow you to find a rhythm and efficiency, but it could lead to boredom of what you eat.
The Fix: Change up your recipes, even if it’s just adding a new spice or cooking on the grill instead of the oven.
Meal Prep Mistake 9: Relying on Processed Foods
Bottled dressings, marinades, and seasoning packets can pack a lot of flavor, but with it can come high levels of sugar, sodium, and ingredients you don’t need.
The Fix: Make your own spice blends, dressings, and marinades from scratch. With a few items, many of which may already be in the pantry, you can achieve great flavors without all the extras you don’t want to add to your meals.