How to Use Meal Planning and Prep to Lose Weight and Reach Your Fitness Goals
At Outlaw FitCamp, we know that meal planning and preparation has been encouraged by fitness experts for a long time and has become very popular. The reasons for this trend are not surprising—meal planning can save you money, time, and calories. That’s a win!
Meal planning and prep is simply planning and making the basic ingredients for your meals ahead of time, usually one week at a time.
The benefits of meal planning and prep
When done right, you can control the nutrition and calories in your next several meals while saving money and time, too. It can be a big factor in helping you lose weight and stick to your fitness goals.
Some major benefits of adding meal planning and prep to your week:
- Prevents decision fatigue
- Helps you achieve your fitness goals
- Saves you money
- Gives you control over your food and encourages more variety in your diet
- Streamlines your shopping
- Decreases food waste
- Reduces stress from not knowing what to make for a meal when you’re hungry
Meal planning and prep can be done for any meals and snacks, of course. Right now, we’re going to focus on lunches.
Meal planning lunches for school or work
One of the easiest places to start food planning and prep is for lunchtime. If you’re back in the grind of making school lunches for the kids or trying to eat healthier and save money by making lunch for work, give meal prep a try.
There are endless meal prep recipes online if you need help with lunch ideas. Of course, it depends on your personal tastes, but some basic ingredients are on many meal-planning lists:
- Healthy salads (with different toppings and dressings to add variety)
- Tuna or chicken salad
- Shrimp ceviche-type dishes
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Greek yogurt
- String cheese
- Hummus with veggies for dipping
- Grilled chicken
Pick your favorite ingredients and plan different lunches with those same ingredients in mind.
How to Get Started
Meal planning and prep does not have to be difficult. It just takes a little…well, planning! Here are the four basics:
1) Come up with your week’s menu
Did you know Outlaw FitCamp provides a Fuel Plan for members? A helpful guide towards fueling your body for your goals. Fuel Plan is a guide fit for you be it, low-calorie, low-carb, vegetarian or vegan—it’s all there. Come up with your favorites and then you can branch out from there.
Keep in mind that meal planning and prep won’t help you lose weight or stick to your fitness goals if you don’t put thought into healthy menu items. Write out a week’s worth of meals so you know exactly how much of each ingredient you’ll need to buy. Think about how staples like chicken breast, rice, or veggies can be used in different meals.
Now you’re ready to head to the grocery with a good, detailed shopping list.
To minimize prep time, buy pre-chopped ingredients when they’re available. Veggies, bagged salads, and frozen produce are readily available and will save you time.
It’s also a good idea to stock up on non-perishables, especially when they’re on sale. Non-perishables to have on hand: dried beans, rice, whole-grain pastas, canned and frozen foods.
Also stock up on the food containers you’ll need. Having good meal prep containers will help you portion your food while also keeping it fresh and safe.
3) Food Preparation
Here’s the step that people think will be difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. Pick a day and set aside the time to food prep. Put on some music or a show you enjoy and get started. Remember that this will make your next several days easier.
Prep ahead by cutting ready-to-eat items like fruits and veggies and place them in storage bags. Cook the ingredients that need to be cooked and store them also. To make sure everything tastes fresh, you can actually put the ingredients together the night before, but if they’re chopped, cooked, and ready, this won’t take any time at all.
A lot of people like to meal prep on Sundays—pick a day that works for you. And it doesn’t have to always be the same day. Don’t forget to also set aside some time to meal plan for the next week. This all saves time in the long run.
4) Pack it up safely
When it’s time to pack your lunch, don’t forget to keep portion control in mind.
We suggest using an insulated bag instead of a paper bag if you have any items that need to be kept cold or hot to stay safe.
To keep items cold, pack your food items with freezer packs to keep them cold. When packing hot items, use an insulated container to keep them hot. If you fill your container with boiling water and let it sit for just a minute, then you can empty it and put in your hot food. This will keep it hot for a longer time.
Enjoy the many benefits of meal planning and prep
Meal planning and prep can definitely help with your fitness goals. It reduces the daily stress of deciding what to eat and prevents over-indulging or bad decisions when you’re hungry. It saves you money, time, and calories when done the right way. Learning to meal plan and prep are important skills that will last you a lifetime and improve your health.
Pick some of your favorite basic ingredients and then come up with different meals based around those. Once you get started, we think you’ll wonder why you haven’t been using meal planning and prep all along!
We want to help you reach your fitness goals. Give us a call today to learn how our group classes or personal training sessions at Outlaw FitCamp can help you get started on a better you!