Meal planning plays a key role in clean eating. It makes it easier to track your portions and stick to your calorie goals while saving you time and money. Unless you plan your meals, it’s hard to tell how much you’re actually eating. On top of that, you might run out of healthy snacks which can lead to impulsive purchases at the drive-thru or vending machine. Meal prep makes everything easier and helps reduce the number of trips to the store and unhealthy food choices.
Ready to give it a try? Check out these simple meal planning tips for optimal health and weight loss success:
Keep It Simple
Think about what you’re going to eat over the next week. If you’re planning gourmet meals for lunch each day, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. A fancy meal takes longer to prepare and cook.
Go online and look for quick, simple clean eating recipes. They take minutes to prepare and require just a few basic ingredients. Remember that clean eating is all about keeping food simple. Prepare raw meals as often as you can to save time and eat healthier. Cooking destroys a large part of the nutrients in food, so avoid frying, boiling, or baking your meals for too long.
Make a Grocery List
Once you decide what you’re going to eat, make a grocery list based on the meals you have planned for the week. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes should form the basis of your meals. Don’t buy more than you need. Seek ways to use leftovers and reduce food waste. Opt for local and seasonal produce, buy grains in bulk, and try new seasonings.
Prep Your Meals the Smart Way
A balanced meal contains all three macronutrients: carbs, protein, and healthy fats. How much of each you need depends on your weight, gender, age, fitness level, and diet goals. Consider your food preferences too.
For instance, if you want to slim down then focus on cooking high-protein meals. Get your carbs from leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, mushrooms, zucchini, cucumbers, and oats. To build lean muscle, you will need to eat more carbs. Whole rice, grains, and quinoa are a great choice.
Be aware that there is no need to prep all of your meals for the week in one day. Cook enough food for the next three or four days to keep it fresh and preserve its flavor. Cut, slice, and chop fruits and veggies, steam quinoa and rice, and bake trail mixes in a large tray. Store your meals and snacks in food containers. Purchase an insulated meal bag so you can eat healthy on the go.
Plan for Leftovers
Determine how you’re going to use leftovers. Some people cook two or more casseroles at the beginning of the week and eat leftovers for lunch or snacks. Others add leftovers to stews, soups, or homemade pizza. You can also freeze what you don’t eat and use it later.
Meal prep isn’t difficult. All it takes is a little planning and creativity. Adopt a system that’s tailored to your goals and lifestyle. Make sure it’s sustainable on long term. For best results, keep a food journal and write down what you eat. Monitor your weight loss progress and adjust your diet accordingly.