So this might not be the most popular opinion with other fitness professionals but hear me out. I really despise the whole idea of "food prep". The notion that I have to take several hours out of my Sunday funday to buy food for the week, cook ALL of it, then portion it out into tupperware and store in my refrigerator gives me so much anxiety. THEN I actually have to eat said food all week...the same meals...every day. Hell NO. What if I want oatmeal and fruit for breakfast but I've prepped hard boiled eggs and peppers? I'm feeling salad with salmon but oh damnit....I have my last serving of nearly expired chicken and green beans for lunch again. Food is meant to taste good. A break in the day to refocus and refuel. If you dread opening that tupperware and forcing a blah meal down because this is what you think you have to do to lose weight...then this post is for you.
Don't get me wrong, being prepared is one of the keys to success when working towards a healthy lifestyle or weight-loss goal. To me, "food prep" means that your kitchen is stocked with food to easily assemble a meal. Below is a list of staples that I always have on hand and can make multiple meals with:
Fruits and Veggies: Apples, bananas, avocado, frozen berries, fresh berries, kale, spinach, corn, broccoli, peppers
Grains: Quinoa, oats, brown rice, lentil pasta
Proteins: Tofu, vegan protein powder, eggs, chicken breast, ground turkey (ALL organic) and some type of fish
Spices/flavors: taco seasoning, capers, tomato sauce, green enchilada sauce, sriracha, infused olive oils, balsamic vinegar, peanut sauce...etc etc
Voila! I'm prepped to cook quick, easy meals.
You say "But Meagan, I don't have time to cook"...as my guru Gabby Bernstein would say..."Do you have time to feel like shit?". She's referring to people who say they don't have time to meditate but I find what you put in your body to be even more important and have a greater effect on how you feel. MAKE TIME. The meals I cook usually take 10-20 minutes total and there are usually leftovers so I can have it for lunch the next day (or not if I want something else!).
I do love to make a huge batch of quinoa or lentil pasta to make life easier. I load it up with veggies and sometimes chicken so I always have lunch on busy days or to use as a quick side at dinner. I do not separate it into portions or eat it at a specific time because that's what I think I need to do to be thin.
Ideally, you will eat fresh, local foods that are in season. Ayurvedic food principals say not to even eat leftovers as the "life force" of the food is gone therefor not nearly as nutritious as it should be. Sometimes leftovers are my only option due to time so just decide for yourself.
Part of what I teach my clients is to listen to what your body needs on a daily basis. Really listen to what your body is telling you. This is SO hard to do with all the food noise that is out there clouding our intuition everyday. One day you are supposed to count calories then the next its all about protein and cutting fat. Then you hear fat is actually good for you...it can too much to keep up with! Below are some food guidelines broken down in the simplest terms. And here's the real kicker...there isn't one right way to eat for everyone.
Eat Real Food - meaning not from a package (or if it is, contains less than 5 ingredients that you can actually identify)
Not too much - Eat slowly and enjoy your meal. Stop eating before you are full so your body can easily digest the meal and use it as fuel...which is the entire reason for eating, to fuel our body.
Mostly plants - Plants are the simplest, most "real" food can get. This is what we are meant to eat. You'll never have to count calories if the majority of your diet comes from plants. You can get all the protein you need from a Vegan diet but I know that is not ideal for most people. Just saying...you can do it. Fill 1/2 your plate with fruits or veggies, add a grain and protein.
I hope this helps quiet some negative food noise and help create a positive outlook towards food. You got this!
PS: I'm speaking to the everyday person who wants to feel and look their best. Not someone training for a competition or on any strict diet for medical reasons. You do you.