PREPARE FOOD OR PREPARE TO FAIL
I could list off all the changes I’ve made over the last 5 years to improve my own health and manage my weight. It has been a multi-step process to say the least. But I find that focusing on one change at a time makes me feel more focused, more effective and more successful. It’s the same reason I keep my to-do lists short. Being up against a lengthy list of things to do makes me feel overwhelmed and discouraged right from the beginning. Similarly, when I focus on just one health change I need to make, my success rate is much higher.
I avoid long lists and making multiple changes at all costs, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are so many things to do! That’s why I’d like to share the 1 thing that has made the biggest impact over time on my health. After all, if you can do just one thing to improve your health and fitness today, wouldn’t you want to know it’s going to have the greatest impact possible?
While I can’t guarantee YOUR success in adopting MY most successful strategy, I hope that by seeing my weekly mode of operation, you can start to formulate one that works just right for you!
So what is this super impactful health strategy I’ve adopted? Now don’t roll your eyes when I say meal prep, because it alone has helped me feel sexy, confident and full of energy more times than I can count.
How to Meal Prep like a Pro with less cook time:
When can you devote 2-4 hours to preparing food?
Select a day of the week that is consistently your best option. This day may change occasionally, but whenever possible keep it within 1 day on either side of the original date to encourage consistency. Once you see the benefits of having home-cooked, healthy foods available and ready to go 24/7, you’ll live and die by whether or not you food prep on this day. Add it to your calendar as a reoccuring event even. My best day to food prep is Sunday. The rest of the timeline follows accordingly.
Follow meal prep day with 5 days of committed eating
I mention this because on occasion I simply don’t fee like eating the foods that are in my fridge. I remind myself at these times that I spent money on these ingredients, I spent time on preparing them, now I must commit to eating them and working to consume all leftovers. For me, Monday through Friday is when I commit to eating the foods I have prepared. I pack lunches and re-heat dinners from these items whenever possible. I try to get all leftovers eaten by Friday evening. I spend roughly 20 minutes on weekday evenings heating up dinner on the stove as I pack our lunches for the following day.
Review your recipes for ideas, start a grocery list
Better yet, start a conversation with those in your household about what they’d like to eat next week and make healthy substitutions for yourself as needed. At some point on Friday evening, I lazily look at my Good for you Foodie pinterest board for inspiration. I typically look for 1 main dinner item, several vegetable sides/snacks as well as easy lunch options for both my husband and me. Typically more than 4 dishes makes me feel like a slave to my kitchen on Sunday and sucks the fun right out of it!
Finalize your grocery list, grocery shop and put away
Unless I really feel like cooking on this day, I toss the groceries in the fridge and forget about them until tomorrow. I find it’s too much time and effort to shop and cook all in one day. This is usually Saturday for me, so I can start my meal prep as soon as I feel like in on Sunday. I usually also set out whatever freezer meats will need to defrost in order for me to cook with them. Nothing slows the food process more than realizing what you need is a freezer brick. Another thing I love about grocery shopping the day before is that is we are staying in, hosting friends or just wanting to avoid take-out, I have fresh ingredients to work with and can whip up something easily.
This step takes you all the way back to the start, during which you’ll spend a few hours cooking and preparing your foods. My favorite Sundays are when I wake up early, put on some tunes, brew some coffee and get my meal prep done before noon! Remember to keep it simple and if you feel overwhelmed, scale it back by 1 or 2 dishes until it feels manageable.
So there you have it! I spend one hour at the grocery store, 2-4 hours cooking the following day and 20 minutes each evening prepping dinner and lunches. Structuring my week in this way allows me to consistently have control over what I consume and sets me up for success week in and week out!
Are you setting yourself up for food success or food failure?
With a little discipline and a strong routine, you can lay a habitual path to success for yourself!
Addie Kelzer is a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. She believes that by making fitness and good food practical, her clients will hold the power to positively change their health and the health of those closest to them.