Nutrition Challenge 101: Meal Prep

If the title of this article made you cringe, never fear! I'm going to give you all my tips and tricks on how to meal prep. Now let's jump right in!

For me, the key to successfully eating healthy food all week long is all in the meal prep. If I have nutritious food ready to go, then it's (relatively) easy for me to stay on course. It's when I don't properly meal prep for the week that I find myself eating all sorts of unhealthy food. Here is my Meal Prep 101 for the Nutrition Challenge.

Step One: Food Storage Containers

The first thing you need in order to properly meal prep is a lot of containers to store your food in. I personally prefer glass storage containers because I can stick them right in the microwave. Jonathan, on the other hand, doesn't mind heating up plastic tupperware. So it's really up to you on what type you choose to use.

You can pick up storage containers at pretty much any grocery store - Kroger, Tom Thumb, Target, Walmart, etc. If you're trying to get some containers on a budget, I'd recommend Home Goods! They have lots of great kitchen items at a discounted price.

Step Two: Plan Your Menu & Create Your Shopping List

Before I even go to the grocery store each week, I spend some time deciding what meals I am going to prep for the week. I then create my shopping list based on my menu and what I already have on hand. By doing both of these things, I am already mentally prepared for the week and it's automatically easier for me to say no to temptation along the way. If I already know what I am going to eat for each meal, there's no reason to cheat or get distracted at the grocery store by some unnecessary item.

One general tip for a "healthier" trip to the grocery store: Stay on the outer parameter of the store and (mostly) avoid the inner aisles. Most grocery stores keep their fresh foods along the outside walls of the store, so shopping mostly here will help you stay focused on buying real, perishable food items as opposed to highly processed items.

Step Three: Make Your Meals!

Now that you have your containers and your food, it's time to start cooking! There are quite a few ways you can choose to cook, but here are just a few: 

Pick one day and cook it all. This option is great for people who don't have much time to cook during the week or don't enjoy cooking. Picking a day that you are less busy, possibly a weekend day, will allow you to knock it all out at once.

Cook one meal today, one meal tomorrow. If you don't have enough time to cook multiple recipes at once, then break it up by doing one today and another one tomorrow. That way you still have enough food for the week, but you can do it in smaller chunks.

Cook meat today, sides tomorrow. Another way to break it up is to cook all of your meat one day and then your sides the next. Once again, just another way to break it up into smaller chunks.

Meal prep one meal for the week. This option is great for people who are just starting out with meal prepping, or who generally have time to cook their other two meals at home. If this is you, try just meal prepping your lunch for the week. We all have our own unique schedules, but in general, lunch is often the meal that people will choose to eat out. Try taking a healthy lunch with you instead by meal prepping your lunches for the week.

Those are just a few options, but you can really break it up however you want! The point is this: Meal prepping is supposed to make it easier for you to eat healthy food throughout the week.

Whether your reason is because you don't have time to cook regularly or you don't enjoy cooking, meal prepping can help you say no to eating out or grabbing "easier" unhealthy options. While it may sound like a lot of work at first, overall it's less work than cooking every day, or the amount of time you may have to spend in the doctors office if you don't take care of your body. Harsh, dramatic, whatever you want to call it, but it's true. Remember why we are doing this whole Nutrition Challenge in the first place... We care about our longterm health! 

Alright, now you're ready to meal prep and CRUSH this Nutrition Challenge!