Have you ever gotten so hungry while working that you ended up eating something that you wouldn’t have eaten otherwise? I can relate. Work gets busy and lunch gets pushed back. If you are working in an office, there is likely a snack machine in close proximity – silently but boldly demanding your money. Before you know it, you’ve caved and grabbed a candy bar. After all, it was a tie between candy and chips.
How did you get here? You’re not sure when you got so consumed with your job that you let your meal planning fall off of your list of priorities. Somehow you did, and now you have plans of doing better.
Lack of planning sets the stage for impromptu behavior. It’s really easy to become so immersed in work that you mindlessly eat a snack out of the machine to hold back the hunger until you get off of work.
The key to having the appropriate fuel is to plan what you’ll be eating. Meal prepping or planning is the best way to make sure that you never have to eat lunch out of the snack machine again.
In case you’re wondering, there are some benefits to prepping. Harvard’s nutrition source points out that meal prepping can save time and money. It can also help with weight control if the alternative is to consume high-calorie take out or snacks.
The basics of meal prepping
So what are some ways to go about meal prepping? Cooking or planning several meals in advance saves time. If you get bored with eating the same thing then the simple solution is to prepare different meals. Places like Whole Foods Market are great for purchasing one serving of meat. Whole Foods also has cases of meal shortcuts, including marinated or seasoned meats.
Once you have purchased meats and sides, start cooking the part of the prep that will take the longest to cook. Also, you may have some component of the prep that you will cook every day. Prep it and place it in a container to grab daily. When I have salmon prep, I prefer to cook the fish each day. The key is to find what works for you.
Next, you need to determine what containers you’re using to store your food. Different plastics have been reported to release harmful chemicals when reheated in the microwave. If you store your food in those containers, make sure to bring a plate from home (and leave it at work) to reheat your food.
Decide in advance how many sections your meal containers will have. Your foods will run together if your container is not divided into sections. Even if your meal prep containers are safe for reheating, it’s always a good idea to have a separate container for foods that do not need to be heated.
Try a meal prep party
Another twist to meal prepping is having a meal prep party. Meal prep parties allow those who attend to determine what foods that will be eaten, purchase, and shared among participants. This can be very useful when you only want to eat the same meal once or twice.
Assign tasks to each participant ahead of time so everyone knows what they’re responsible for so the party runs smoothly.
One tip is to assign prep party members tasks based on their work hours. For example, if a participant gets off earlier, then they can clean, cut, and chop in preparation for the actual party. On the other hand, those who show up later can pack and store the meal.
Meal prepping alone
I really enjoy cooking but this is not a priority for all. As you dive into planning your meals, you will find out how far you need to take your planning to be successful.
You may decide to cook all of your food for 2-3 days in advance. Or, you may decide not to pre-cook any food. Instead, your planning may consist of washing and cutting vegetables, seasoning meats, and having it all ready to cook.
Purchase meals instead of cooking
If cooking isn’t your thing, you can hire a chef or meal prep company. These days, a lot of cities have meal prep solutions. Talk to the owners of these companies, test out their food, and make an informed decision.
Most meal prep companies buy locally and they have deadlines to place orders due to local food availability. As a result, make sure you get your order in early.
Taking in the right fuel is an important step to taking better care of yourself. Even if our diets are different (i.e. whole foods, ketogenic, or vegan diets) and we prefer different fuel to help us reach our maximum potential, we still have to plan to be successful.
Don’t let excuses stand in the way of planning your meals. For help preparing healthy meals that can fit your lifestyle, schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian today!
What are your struggles with planning meals during the week?
Author: Hi, I’m Mary Stewart, a nurse practitioner and wellness coach. I help successful professionals and entrepreneurs make time for all of their priorities so that they can feel in control of their life and work again. This could mean overhauling your time management strategies, diving into your habits and routines, or discovering ways to massively increase productivity. When Mary is not busy helping others, she is spending time with her family and friends, gardening, or updating her to do list.