Most of us know what’s good for us, yet we take shortcuts. For example, it feels good completing tasks on our to-do lists. Yet, taking the path of least resistance and procrastinating seems all too common. For example, instead of cleaning the garage, we binge watch the hottest Netflix show. In other words, we like to do what is easy most of the time.
Anyone can sign up to a workout program, a college class, or the company’s softball team. However, it takes discipline to show up when required and finish what was started. Discipline is something most people don’t have, and where we fail to achieve. If we were to read success stories of athletes, artists, or body builders, we would find one thing in common. On their worst days, when they had absolutely no energy or desire to practice, they did so anyway.
In order to meal prep week after week, discipline and creativity need to come together. Set yourself a time during the week to plan and prepare your meals. Take the time to research new recipes instead of cooking the same meals. On the days where you don’t feel like meal prepping, and I’ve had plenty, I like to remind myself about a few things.
First, I think about the alternative meals I would be having that week. Without healthy meals around, I’ll be more likely to pick up fast food or unhealthy snacks. Second, these unhealthy meals will set me back on my goals, since I’ll likely gain weight. Last, I don’t feel all that great after eating junk or fast food. This in turn effects my mood when trying to work out, or just doing work in general. Reminding myself of these negative effects is usually enough to fire up my stove and get cooking.
Along with a lack of discipline, the main reasons why people don’t meal prep are:
- You feel forced to eat the same thing every day, leaving you with no opportunity to eat out.
- Chopping, marinating, cooking and the cleanup – It just takes too long to prepare meals.
These are reasons which make meal prep unattractive. However, if we consider flexibility, and make a good, sound meal prep plan, all of these issues can be minimized. Do not let these reasons get in the way of your goals, which ultimately is to lose weight, feel better, and get healthier. Let’s dive in and see what we can do about these “obstacles” and get them out of our way.
No Opportunity to Eat Out
It’s safe to say that we have all been in the following situation: At some point of your working life, you have actually brought a lunch with you to work. Weather it’s your mom’s meatloaf, party pizza you snuck out of your friend’s house the night before, or something else. The point is you made it to work, and are planning to eat something you brought. Then, your coworkers invite you to lunch, and you go out with them, leaving the lunch you brought out to dry in the company’s fridge.
These events happen, it’s just a matter of recognizing the frequency and planning for them. Are you a social person? If so, make room in your meal prep routine for them. For example, if you are used to eating out with your coworkers 5 times a week, maybe start by preparing 3 meals ahead, leaving you room with 2 days with them. Be flexible, and don’t write your meal schedule “in stone”.
Another thing that helped me stick to eating my prepared meals was simply taking them with me. When my coworkers invited me to lunch, I would heat up my food and went along for the ride. You’ll get to socialize and enjoy the healthy meal you worked hard to prepare.
Meal Prep is too much work and takes too long
If you are just starting to meal prep, it may feel like it’s too much work. As someone who has been doing meal prep for years, I can tell you it gets easier. You will start to develop very efficient ways to cook. For example – you can have veggies roasting in the oven while cooking chicken and brown rice. In about 45 minutes, I can have all my meals done for the week. In another example, it takes me 10 minutes to chop up veggies, meat and mix them with some spices. I then throw them in the slow cooker, set the timer and I am done.
There are also many healthy and organic side dishes you can buy premade. Beans, quinoa, brown rice and frozen veggies – these are good to have which can save you a ton of time. Not only are they already cooked and all organic, they are low in sodium as well. Meal prep is not all about cooking – meal prep is about organizing, planning and preparing what you will eat ahead of time. As you gain more experience preparing your meals, you will find ways to save time and effort.
Cleanup can be a pain, I know. However, I can’t tell you how many times I am gladly listening to music and washing the dishes, knowing that my meals are made. One tip I can give you, and this may be obvious, is to try not to use too many pans and dishes. I’ll often catch myself mindlessly reaching for a new mixing bowl, when I can easily rinse out one I already used. The same goes for mixing spoons, try to rinse them with water and reuse them. Use nonstick cooking spray when you can, as it makes clean up a breeze.
I hope this articles has helped and motivated you to get meal prepping. Keep in mind that it is easy for us to come up with excuses not to do something productive. However, remind yourself why you are doing this, and know that every week you will make progress towards a better you. All you need to do is put on some music and get started. In no time, you’ll have healthy meals ready to eat and feel better about yourself.