I have lived a meal prep lifestyle since March 2013. I didn’t even realize I’d lived a meal prep lifestyle for that long until I was prepping and researching for this post. I went combing through my social media accounts, which started in 2013 and the earliest picture of my meal prep lifestyle was dated March 10, 2013. To be honest, I think I was living a meal prep lifestyle prior to this, but I hadn’t started sharing about my meal prep lifestyle to others.
I cannot even really recall how I came to know about or decide to live a meal prep lifestyle. I do remember that around that time I started to learn about and complete extreme workouts like P90x and Insanity to name a few. I was getting frustrated that despite putting in the work (blood, sweat and tears, I wasn’t seeing the type of results (muscle and definition) that I wanted. I heard my video trainers (ShaunT and Tony Horton) consistently telling me that I had to eat for my results. They both preached pretty heavily that diet, sometimes even more so than exercise, was what would lead to great results. Somewhere around that time I decided to care more about what I ate. Because of my busy life teaching and being in a PhD program, I knew my only chance of being successful was to live a meal prep lifestyle, even though I had no clue that’s what it was called at the time.
What is a meal prep lifestyle?
Well, meal prep is a system where you prepare your meals on a specific day or days to have greater control over how much and what you are eating. There are many different reasons why people live a meal prep lifestyle and many different goals people try to attain by living a meal prep lifestyle.
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For me, living a meal prep lifestyle has always been about wanting to eat clean (eat a greater majority of food and meals that are good for me, that do not include large amounts of unnecessary and harmful sugars, fats etc.). I have never been very rigid in my meal prep lifestyle. For example, I stick strictly to my meal prep lifestyle during the week, but am very relaxed on the weekends, unless I am completing a workout program or trying to achieve some type of specific goal.
Case in point about a time when I was very rigid with my meal prep lifestyle was when I was preparing for my wedding in Jamaica and also when I was trying to feel more like myself after having my son. Normally, I try to aim for the 85/15 rule as I live my meal prep lifestyle, which means that I eat clean 85% of the time and the other 15, I will eat whatever I feel like, regardless of its nutritional value.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do not always do a good job living a meal prep lifestyle and for a long time I made several meal prep mistakes. There are some days and weeks when I just don’t want to eat clean and I choose not to, but because I usually eat clean whenever I don’t or if I overdo it, I feel awful and am happy to get back on my meal prep lifestyle track quickly.
How does meal prep work?
Well, to live a meal prep lifestyle, you pick a day or days when you will prepare your healthy meal options. For me that day is usually Sundays and here and there on a Monday. I will cut, cook and prepare all my meals that help me to live a meal prep lifestyle for the week on Sunday and then share them into containers to be eaten as breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks for the week.
Why is meal prep important?
For me, a meal prep lifestyle is important for many reasons, but there are three that stand out:
A meal prep lifestyle will help you to meet and maintain your health and fitness goals. I don’t know about you, but I hated and still hate working hard to get in shape and then being right back where I started in a few weeks. As I mentioned earlier, my online Beachbody trainers mentioned in every workout that more than anything, what you ate would determine the level of health and fitness you could achieve. Choosing and living a meal prep lifestyle helps me to be healthier and fitter than ever before in my life.
A meal prep lifestyle will help you to save money. Eating out for one or all 3 meals becomes expensive fast. I can purchase all the items for my weekly meal prep for much less than it would cost me to eat out for even half of the days of the week. When I realized how much money I would save by starting a meal prep lifestyle not just for me, but for my entire family, it gave me huge motivation to make the change to a meal prep lifestyle.
A meal prep lifestyle prevents food and healthy eating from being an issue and helps to get rid of excuses. Before meal prepping, I hated deciding every day and several times a day what to eat. In my dislike for the whole process, I would just try to put together the quickest, easy meal I could and in many cases it wasn’t the healthiest option. Starting a meal prep lifestyle makes food and meals a non-issue or at the least minimizes it.
After completing the meals to live my meal prep lifestyle on Sunday, I am done for the week. In about an hour (it took a while to get my meal prep to that short of a time), I have healthy, delicious meals that cost much less than eating out and that also help me to stay true to my health and fitness goals, which is a large part of why I started a meal prep lifestyle.
To recap, living a meal prep lifestyle is important because it helps you to achieve and maintain health and fitness goals, it helps you to save money and it makes it easier to eat healthy meals. Did I mention living a meal prep lifestyle helps you to save money?
Why does meal prep work?
Are you wondering why and if a meal prep lifestyle works? Well, it does work and the best part is a meal prep lifestyle works to suit whatever your goals are. If you want to maintain your weight, you can create meal prep recipes for that goal. If you want to lose weight, you can create a meal prep lifestyle and live a meal prep lifestyle and create recipes for that goal.
A meal prep lifestyle works because you prepare healthy meals to match your goals ahead of time. Having those meals ready to eat makes it easier to make and stick to your healthy choices. When you are living a meal prep lifestyle, you can make healthy versions of meals you love and enjoy. Having those healthy meal prep recipes will make you less likely to give in to temptations or make excuses about your food choices.
Living a Meal Prep Lifestyle: A Peek at my Weekly Meal Prep Menu
If you’re like me, your biggest hesitation to switching to living a meal prep lifestyle is wondering what you will eat and how to get your weekly meal prep done. To help you with that, here’s a peek at how living a meal prep lifestyle works for me.
Living a Meal Prep Lifestyle: How to Meal Prep for a Week?
While living a meal prep lifestyle you have to prepare your meals for the week. Here are my top tips and suggestions for you to follow to have a successful meal prep lifestyle:
My first suggestion is to pick a day of the week when you have about an hour or two to spare.
Next, think of healthy or healthier foods that you enjoy eating and add them to your menu
Choose food preparation that is healthier such as grilling, air frying or boiling.
Make a grocery list.
Go shopping for the ingredients you will need.
Batch your cooking. I do all the washing and chopping of vegetables and fruits first. Then, all the grilling and boiling or air frying.
Divide your meal prep recipes into your containers. Be sure to consider portion sizes, especially as they relate to your goals.
Allow your meal prep recipes to cool and then place them in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to eat your meals.
Living a Meal Prep Lifestyle: When do you Meal Prep?
Like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been living a meal prep lifestyle since March 2013 and my meal prep day is Sunday. Once in a blue moon, I will do my meal prep on Mondays. I meal prep as early as possible to make sure that no conflicts get in the way and I’m about to stick weekly to my meal prep lifestyle.
Living a Meal Prep Lifestyle: My Favorite Meal Prep Recipes
I’m a creature of habit and this is one of the many reasons that living a meal prep lifestyle works for my family and me. I typically eat a variation of the same recipes and ingredients throughout the entire year. Some of my favorite meal prep recipes, which happen to be fast and easy to prepare include crockpot chicken breast, ground turkey spaghetti, ground turkey chili, curry shrimp, ground turkey and cauliflower fried rice , steel cut oatmeal, ground turkey oatmeal meatloaf, oven roasted sweet potatoes and bell peppers, ground turkey sausage with oven roasted veggies, ground turkey meatballs and mashed sweet potatoes, curry chicken, orange salmon and baked tilapia. As you can tell, chicken breast, ground turkey and seafood play a big part in helping me to live a meal prep lifestyle. I do eat other items from time to time, but in limited quantities, so they don’t play a large part in me living a meal prep lifestyle.
Living a Meal Prep Lifestyle: Tips for Lunchbox Meal Prep
Another huge part of living a meal prep lifestyle is packing a lunchbox. Some of my best tips as you pack a lunchbox is to purchase one that is large enough to fit what you will need. When I first started meal prepping, I picked cute, non practical options and found our quickly they would not work. Since you’ll be using your lunchbox often, it also needs to be durable and easy to clean. After many years, living a meal prep lifestyle, I have fallen in love with the Scout lunchboxes.
I received one as a gift from a parent because it’s no secret that I am living a meal prep lifestyle. I am happy to say that almost two years later, it is still going strong. Some of the features I like most are that I can wipe the inside and outside clean and it is spacious. Sometimes a part of living a meal prep lifestyle means I have early starts and late meetings, so I pack my breakfast, lunch and dinner and there is enough room in my Scouts lunchbox for all 3 meals plus snacks.
Which Meal Prep containers are best?
Yet another important thing to consider when living a meal prep lifestyle are which containers you’ll use. This was another huge mistake that I made. I went to Walmart and just got the containers I found in sets that were cheap. They lasted for a while, but they stained easily and eventually started not closing well, having leaks and many other problems.
As I became more serious and mature in living a meal prep lifestyle, I started investing in better containers and also upgrading my basic meal prep essential tools. I started using containers with sections and then also, just recently, have upgraded to glass sectioned meal prep containers. I have had these meal prep containers now for a few months and love them. They are durable, wash clean, don’t stain and have shown no sign of wear and tear. They are excellent additions and have made living a meal prep lifestyle easier.
Living a Meal Prep Lifestyle: A Sample Meal Prep Grocery List
Now that you are truly convinced and ready to start living your own meal prep lifestyle, I know you have another big question, what does a sample meal prep grocery list look like. When I first started out, I would buy way too much food, spend way more than I needed to, cook way too much, and end up throwing away so much at the end of the week. Now, I know what I need to do if I’m prepping for myself or for my husband or for my son, too.
Sample Weekly Meal Prep Recipe Grocery List
Meal Prep Vegetables
Broccoli Salad Mix
Meal Prep Fruit
Meal Prep Proteins
Meal Prep Starch
Steel cut oats
Meal Prep Healthy Fats & Oils
Extra virgin olive oil
Living a Meal Prep Lifestyle: Learn from My Meal Prep Mistakes
I truly cannot emphasize enough how living a meal prep lifestyle is essential to maintaining a healthy life. However, it is still possible to make mistakes living a meal prep lifestyle that will keep you from achieving your goals or just be a royal pain. Here are some meal prep mistakes you should avoid outside of the ones I’ve already warned you about (lunchbox and containers):
Making your meal prep recipes too complicated
Making meal prep recipes that take too much time
Making meal prep recipes that are not what you actually like to eat
Not trying to get your entire family to switch to a meal prep lifestyle Family dinner meal prep ideas
Not meal prepping healthy recipes.
Making your meal prep portions too large or small, based on your goals.
Can meal prep help with weight loss?
One of the number one questions I get asked is can a meal prep lifestyle help me to lose weight. The answer is emphatically, yes, but you need to be certain to prepare and portion healthy recipes. In addition, you should also be sure to drink at least a half of your body weight in water daily, exercise and get enough rest. With this combination, living a meal prep lifestyle will help you to lose and maintain your weight.
Living a Meal Prep Lifestyle: Wrapping Up
Seven years later, I am still convinced that living a meal prep lifestyle was an excellent decision. It has not only been positive for me, but also for my son, husband and other friends and family members. Do I only eat from my meal prep? Absolutely not. For at least 15% of the time and sometimes more, depending on the week or the special events I’m celebrating like birthdays, I eat whatever I want, even if it is in no way shape or form healthy.
Most of the time though, since I’ve been living a meal prep lifestyle for so long, even those indulgent meals are healthier versions of what I could be eating like Jamaican banana fritters and double turkey breakfast pizza because over indulging too much normally makes me feel sick.
Have you been on the fence about living a meal prep lifestyle? I would definitely say you should get off of the fence and start today. Living a meal prep lifestyle has served me well and is a decision I will continue to make for the rest of my life.
Come back often for the addition of more tips, recipes and ideas to help you with living your own meal prep lifestyle.
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