Meal prep is very popular in the fitness world.
And it's for a good reason. Your life will become way much easier when you do it.
It’s a technique of preparing meals ahead of time to help avoid temptations.
Very convenient and saves a lot of time.
Although many people think that prep is only for bodybuilders and extreme athletes, the concept can be used by anyone who is trying to live a healthier lifestyle.
Life can get busy!
Especially, living in America’s constant “go-go-go” culture.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of stopping by your favorite fast food restaurant to grab a bite to eat on your lunch break.
One of the best ways we can mitigate the chances of falling off track is to be prepared. This is where meal prep can help.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
By preparing your meals ahead of time, you are not only helping to control what goes into your body.
It also frees up time to focus on other important aspects of your life.
This may mean more time to work out or more time to spend time with family and friends.
Aside from the obvious convenience factor, prepping has other benefits that may convince you of its importance:
Helps Control Your Eating
No more binge eating.
It's pre-portioned and readily available, so the days of buffet indulgences and eating granola bars as a sad excuse of a lunch are a thing of the past.
Undereating is just as harmful to your fitness goals as overeating.
Without constantly giving your body healthy fuel to burn, your metabolism will slow down and ultimately grind to a stop, wreaking havoc on your health.
It Saves You Money
An average working adult buys lunch 5 times a week.
Averaging at $10.50 for most ‘quick service’ lunches, that is $52.50 a week, $210 a month, $2,520 a year.
What makes this so much worse is that these lunches are usually subpar fast food lunches that provide next to no nutritional value and are loaded with sodium and unhealthy carbs.
Holds You Accountable
If you’ve already spent the money to buy the ingredients and took the time to prepare all these meals, chances are you don’t want to waste that.
This will encourage you to eat regularly and avoid spending extra money on snacks throughout the day.
See You Later Temptations
Okay, maybe not goodbye completely.
For everyday temptations, such as reaching for a bag of Doritos during your mid-afternoon lull at work, you’ll have some pre-prepared healthy alternatives at your convenience.
This will keep you on track with your nutritional goals.
Meal prep isn’t just for lunches!
In fact, it can be used for all of your meals and snacks throughout the week.
Check out these awesome recipes to help kick-start your planning.
We’ve always heard about the importance of breakfast.
But many people just blow it off with a “Well, I’m not super hungry, so I’ll just wait for lunch.” Bad plan.
You see, after a full night’s sleep, your body has drained all of its fuel sources by fasting all night.
It’s important to refuel in the morning to get the energy to power through your day.
In fact, that’s where the name originated; you need to break the fast.
In addition to giving us energy, eating breakfast:
- Improves cognitive functions by restoring glucose levels
- Reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease
- Improves memory
- Promotes weight loss
However, despite all these benefits, 56% of Americans surveyed claim they do not eat breakfast regularly. 
Let’s take a look at this list of quick and easy breakfasts you can prepare ahead of time to make your mornings more delicious, while still being able to push the limits of your snooze button.
These recipes are such an awesome solution for those who don’t have time to do any cooking in the morning but are looking for a healthy and filling way to start their day.
They’re just oats soaked in liquid (typically dairy, almond, or soy milk) overnight topped with your choice of fruit, seasonings, nuts, etc.
A standard recipe is 1 part steel cut oats, 2 parts milk of choice + any mix-ins and toppings you desire (chia seeds, almonds, cinnamon, fruit, etc.)
For those feeling a bit more adventurous, check out these three recipes.
1. Salted Turtle Overnight Oats
A healthy spin on the beloved chocolate turtle flavor. These oats are chocolatey, sweet, crunchy and filling. With only 300 calories, this isn’t a bad way to start your day.
Get the recipe from Organize Yourself Skinny
2. Carrot Cake Overnight Protein Oats
What’s better than a jar of whole grains and protein to fuel your morning? A jar of whole grains and protein that taste like a delectable piece of carrot cake.
Get the recipe from Dashing Dish
3. Strawberry Chia Overnight Oats
Chia seeds are a super food that has been a staple in Mayan and Aztec diets for centuries.
They offer plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and blood sugar regulation.
This recipe incorporates these amazing little seeds in such a delicious way.
Quick Tip: When choosing nut-based milk, always go for the “unsweetened” kind.
Compared to its unsweetened counterpart (0g sugar), the sugar content of sweetened almond milk, ranges from 11g/serving – 22g depending on the specific brand.
This can be as much as 5 sugar packets!
Get the recipe from Inspired Edibles
Put down your chocolate covered, Oreo filled, chewy bar.
C’mon, you’re practically eating a candy bar for breakfast, and you’re wondering why you start to crash around 10 a.m.
Check out these recipes for homemade protein bars that are much healthier (and in my opinion much tastier) than store bought bars.
4. the Healthy-FIVE Ingredient Granola Bars
Five ingredients, no baking, and no refined sugars?
Sounds good to me.
Get the recipe from Minimalist Baker
5. Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls
Quick and easy to make chocolate protein balls.
Keep these in your freezer and pull them out when you want.
If you’re not a chocolate peanut butter fan, there are recipes for dozens of other delicious protein ball recipes such as pumpkin, cranberry pistachio, Almond Joy, and Nutella!
Get the recipe from Gimme some Oven
6. NO-BAKE Protein Cookies
Depending on your nut choices, these bad boys pack between 10 – 15g protein per cookie and are low on the glycemic index. Here's the recipe:
1 cup rolled oats
2 cups your favorite protein powder
1/4 cup almonds, cashews or peanuts
1/4 cup unsalted nut butter – almond or peanut butter (for consistency)
1/4 cup melted unrefined coconut oil
4 – 5 dates, pits removed
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp. warm water
Optional mix-ins: unsweetened shredded coconut, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, bee pollen, dried fruits.
- Combine oats, protein and nuts.
- Throw nut butter, coconut oil, dates and water into a food processor (a blender will work, too if its powerful enough. I use my NutriNinja and it works fine!) Mix until smooth.
- Fold into dry ingredients until combined thoroughly – If you notice your batter is too crumbly, add 1 tsp. water at a time as needed.
- Scoop ping-pong ball sized batter onto a lined baking sheet and flatten.
- Refrigerate for 45 minutes and voila!
PREPARE EGGS FOR THE WEEK
7. Easy Egg and Cheese Muffins
Cheesy egg muffins, need I say anymore?
These mini frittatas are great for anyone on the go. Get creative and add different ingredients to make your own creations!
Get the recipe from Popsugar
8. Egg, bacon & Jalapeno Frittata
Sometimes a little jalapeno in the morning is just what you need to kick into gear.
Get the recipe from Paleo.com.au
9. Making Hard Boiled Eggs In the Oven
Say goodbye to the tedious task of boiling, cooling, and timing. Make 24 hard boiled eggs at once.
See how it's done here
Quick grab and go lunches you can take with you wherever you go! Take them to the office, to class or wherever else your day takes you.
10. Mason Jar Salads
Making your salads in mason jars will prevent that gross soggy salad texture that you get a lot with pre-prepped salad. The secret behind a successful jarred salad is the layering:
- Dressing in first – Most important step! You want your wet ingredients as far away from your greens as possible.
- Wet ingredients – Cucumbers, tomatoes or berries.
- Next is your grains/veggies/protein – The heavy stuff goes next. Your beans, chicken, quinoa, carrots, corn, peppers, etc.
- The toppings – Things you don’t want to sit in dressing for too long. Your almond slivers, cheese, dried fruit, seeds.
- Last is the leafy greens – Save your greens for last! The spinach, romaine, mixed greens, or kale should be on the top of your jar.
The combinations are endless, so you never have to eat the same salad week after week.
Here are 5 recipes to spark some ideas:
- Layered Tuna Salad
- Buddha Bowl Salad
- Asian Noodle Salad
- Strawberry Feta Salad
- Tropical Sriracha Chicken Salad
11. Stir Fry’s
Stir fry recipes are awesome because you can use up any left-over produce or proteins.
There is no “set recipe” for a delicious meal, so you can make these meals as fun as you’d like!
Kitchen Sink Stir Fry: This recipe uses flank steak, loads of veggies and a homemade “tangy sauce.”
Thai-Inspired Ground Turkey Stir Fry: Packed with amazing flavors this dish is also low-carb, low-glycemic, dairy-free and can easily be modified to be gluten-free.
Shrimp Fried Rice: A healthy spin on a favorite dish. See the recipe here.
12. Deviled Eggs Over Arugula
2 Tbsp. Mayo
1 Tsp. Mustard Powder
½ Tsp. Paprika
1 large tomato sliced
Organic Turkey Bacon
- Hard boil your eggs and slice them in half lengthwise.
- Scoop out the yolk and mix it with mayo, mustard and paprika.
- Scoop mixture back into egg whites.
- Serve over a bed of arugula, tomato and crumbled bacon.
13. Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 Cups Shredded Chicken
4 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Can Black Beans
2 – 4 Cups Salsa
½ Onion – Diced
1 Large Carrot – Diced
1 Yellow Zucchini – Diced
1-Quart Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Cups Water
Topping Suggestions: Tortilla Strips, Green Onion, Chopped Tomatoes, Cilantro, Avocado and Shredded Cheese
- Add EVOO to a large pot over medium heat.
- Once heated, add onions. Stir frequently for approximately 3 – 5 minutes.
- Add chicken, broth, water, juice of 1 lime, carrots, diced zucchini, carrots, cilantro, black beans, salsa and salt + pepper to taste.
- Bring to a soft boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 1 hour.
TRY THESE MEAL IDEAS FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Honestly, it's quite annoying trying to figure out what to eat every 2-3 hours. 🙂
Just do the work once.
Then enjoy the convenience and time saved. You will have a lot more time to focus on other things.
But most importantly, you will benefit from the portion control, healthy eating and getting closer to your fitness goal.