Meal prep gives many people anxiety and meal prep is exciting for others. Which one are you? The truth is, meal can be a pivotal piece to your weight loss journey, your "Pain FreedomTM" journey or even your "maintain my sanity during the week" journey.
What I want to do here is take some of the guess work out of it for you and give you some sure fire ways to ensure you are successful with whatever health journey you embark upon.
First of all, one of the most important keys to meal prep in my opinion is to set your goal and know your why? What do I mean? Well, why do you want to meal prep or why do you think meal prep may help you? Second of all, if your home is anything like mine, insert "CRAZY" at times...LOL. Then you know how important it can be to get everyone on board with your personal health journey. This is why I recommend getting your significant other and family on board in the beginning. How do I do that Dr. Zee?
GET FAMILY ON BOARD:
1. Ask them what they would like to incorporate into the meals for the week
2. Ask them what health goal they would like to achieve for the week or the month
3. Get them involved. Especially the kiddos. There are many studies that have shown that when children are engaged and participate in healthy meal prep and cooking their own food that they are more likely to indulge with a "less picky attitude". Now who wouldn't love a little less attitude around the house?
WHY IS MEAL PREPPING IMPORTANT?
Meal prepping keeps you ahead of the game and allows you spend less time on making meals day-to-day and more time on your athletic performance or spending time quality time with yourself or family on the weeknights instead of slaving over the stove after a long day of work. Meal prep also helps you make better food choices, because when we plan out what we want or need to eat for the week, it cuts down on impulsive choices that often lead to over-processed, high cholesterol, high fat, high sugar and high sodium food choices. Not to mention the GMO (genetically modified organism) ridden food that are sure to sabotage your #MVP health goals! This is a whole other topic that we can discuss in a later blog post. STAY TUNED. So, in a nut-shell, I recommend meal prep to all of my patients and clients (athlete and non-athlete) and I always tell them, "Prepare now, so you can Perform later!"
WHAT ARE THE BEST MEAL PREP CONTAINERS?
I found the best storage containers are the ones that have 3-4 compartments which helps you create a balanced meal (protein, complex carb, and healthy fat). I also find "snack-size ziploc" bags and sandwich bags useful for portion control and they're economical. Many of them come as a 50 ct and you can buy your healthy dry snacks (i.e. nuts, granola, homemade roasted cinnamon-nutmeg chickpeas) in bulk and pre-pack them in these small bags and just put them away in the pantry or fridge until ready for use (up to 7 wks worth with a 50ct box in just 10 min). If you want or need some more creative, simple and quick snack ideas the best-seller book, "Everybody Has 15 Minutes: 15 Minute Meals to Your Pain Freedom" has a ton, along with 15 minute dinners, lunches and desserts, yumm-o-rama!
WHAT ABOUT STORAGE CARRYING SOLUTIONS?
A few easy solutions for storage is to keep a small cooler in your car or trunk like these, full of the grab-n-go snacks you already prepared, so that even on-the-go you can stay on track with your nutrition goals; It's also helpful to have a thermos on hand that you can quickly toss your protein powder into, shake it up, and enjoy, and/or just use for daily water intake requirements, which by the way I recommend you to drink half your body weight in ounces of your favorite alkaline water such as H2O Energy or Essentia.
I've been asked a lot about how can you keep items cold longer during the day? You can try reusable cold-packs for keeping cold items cold and you can even freeze the food item overnight, pack them in cooler the next day and by lunch time it will still be cool and ready for your consumption. However, ideally I tell my athletes or my "on-the-go" busy moms to avoid prepping items that need all-day refrigeration (i.e. dairy based food).
WHAT ABOUT MY HOT FOOD? SHOULD I TRY TO KEEP THEM HOT?
This is not typically necessary, except in the case of poultry or meat that is not fully cooked. Otherwise, in general, keeping items hot is more of a preference more than a requirement. For example, most vegetables and practically all fruit don't need to be hot to consume.
HOW LONG WILL MOST MEALS LAST IN THE FREEZER?
Most Protein (meat) will safely last in freezer for 4-6 months. Deep freezer can sometimes keep your beef and veal frozen up to 12 months.
So there you have it ladies and gentlemen, meal prep doesn't have to be that tricky. It just takes a little bit of forethought to ensure your success. You will thank me later. As a matter of fact if you happen to try any of these tips and tricks that you read here please let us know on social media @drzarinah or #DrZeeTips
Dr. Zarinah has been featured in magazines, scientific articles, and blogs. She has served as guest and keynote speaker for national medical conferences, businesses, educational institutions, and athletic clubs. If you'd like to discuss how you can book Dr. Zarinah for your next event or project. Visit www.DrZarinah.com/media