Thinking ahead isn’t everyone’s strong suit. Many people probably never even give their next meal a thought. I was much like this in the past. I was also 100 lbs heavier in the past. Now you may be one of those lucky few individuals who are able to make it up on the fly and still stay in shape. I am not. I thought I would dedicate this post to explaining why meal prep is an important element to living my low carb life as well as give some tips to help make the process a little easier.
Why is prepping important?
- It’s less likely that you will just go out and grab fast food – If you have already spent the time and money to prepare a bunch of meals ahead of time that are delicious and easy for you to heat up, you probably won’t decide on your way home from work to stop at that burger place.
- It allows you to control your portion sizes and make smart decisions about what you eat – When you are preparing meals ahead of time, you are able to measure out carefully what you are eating for a given meal. This allows you to know for a fact what you have consumed, rather than just grabbing food and eating.
- It saves you time and money – Instead of paying high prices for low quality food, you will save money by knowing exactly how much you can spend for a week and budgeting your food expenses accordingly. Not having to go and pick up food every day after work, or going out to eat every evening, you will save a bunch of time as well.
- It allows you to track what you’re eating – This goes along with number 2 above. By prepping your meals ahead of time, you will be able to know exactly how many calories and carbs you are consuming. You can even keep a food journal or use a program like CalorieCount. They even have an app that makes it a breeze.
- It’s good for your motivation and your self-esteem – Just simply knowing that you have abstained from junk food and made a healthy choice to keep on track of your diet can be a confidence booster in what you are doing. You know that you’ve made a smart and healthy decision, and that the reward is greater than any quick gratification fast food will give you.
- You can build in days for you to “cheat” – We all need “cheat” days/high carb days. I’ve even addressed these in a previous post here. By programming what you will be eating in advance, you can also know when you are able to have allowances. You can even do these alongside your workout plan in order to help boost your workouts to a level you normally wouldn’t be able to.
- It prevents from unnecessary snacking – If you know you have food waiting for you when you get home, then you will be less likely to just snack on whatever may be around the office or in your car. This also prevents excess calories from being consumed.
- Takes the guesswork out of your meals – Always knowing you have something to eat is one less thing that you’ll have to worry about during your already hectic week. This can reduce stress and help keep your willpower in check.
- Set aside a meal prep day – This is usually a day on the weekend for most people, but it can be any day that you have the time to set aside for cooking and preparing your meals for the week. You can even split this into two days during a given week to lighten the load.
- Packaging – I recommend using either Tupperware or aluminum foil for packaging. I find it especially easy to use a microwavable container to place my meals in so that I can just microwave it all together. You can also put everything into a foil pack and just throw them in the oven to warm back up.
- Make enough and have enough room for it – It’s important to plan out your week and know just how many meals you have to have. You can even make some extra and just freeze it. Along with making it all, make sure you have enough room in your fridge or freezer for all the containers you will have.
- Follow food safety – Make sure that you are following food safety guidelines when storing your food. For example, cooked chicken is only recommended to be in the fridge for 3-4 days but can be frozen for a longer period of time. The night before you’ll need it, just pull it out to thaw and microwave or bake it the day you eat it. To get an idea about food safety, check out this link.
- Plan more than just meals – Planning ahead should include snacks as well as workouts. This allows you to plan accordingly throughout entire days. For example, you could prepack some nuts or jerky into portions in zip loc bags or containers for throughout the day. If you can, your workouts should be planned out for your week as well. This way you can plan when you need to get sustenance before and after your workouts. Also, don’t forget to account for any and all supplements, like whey protein, when tracking your calories and carbs.
These are just some of the tips that allow me to keep living a low carb life without adding on stress. I plan the majority of my meals and workouts so that I know what I will be doing and when. Although I cook a little more spontaneously than I used to, I believe that planning out meals and pre-packing them is a valuable tool to use when starting out on a low carb diet.
Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions or comments, please leave it down below. Thanks!