MEAL PLANNING FOR THE WEEK
To make meal planning and prepping a pleasant experience, we must keep things as simple as possible by organizing. Nothing can discourage me from making meals more than getting started and realizing I don’t have a certain ingredient or utensil. This is something that has happened to all of us. By making a list, you can outline what you need, purchase it, and have it ready to go. I have made a list of 4 steps that you can use to organize your kitchen and get things ready to make your shopping experience great.
4 Steps to meal planning
1) Designate your cabinets: Have each cabinet n your kitchen specifically designed for a certain thing. For example, my cabinets above my stove have nothing but canned foods in them. Whenever we go shopping that’s where we immediately put canned goods. Whenever I get ready to make something I automatically know where everything is because everything has a specific place.
2) Utilize fridge space: So many times, we just throw things in our refrigerator and we forget all the useful components it has. Something that is very useful in meal planning is utilizing the different parts of the fridge. Keeping your fruits and vegetables on the top shelf works because as soon as you open the door its one of the first things you notice. Place your berries, grapes, and other fruits on one side of the top and then place your veggies on the other side. This may seem silly or maybe even a bit of overkill but it can help you save time and effort.
3) Spice it up: When it comes to spices I don’t think you need an entire cabinet but you need a spice section. I would recommend keeping your spices to the right side of your stove. For me this is just a convenient place to keep them while cooking because they are easy to reach but also easy to put back. I always get whatever spices I need for that meal, use them and then put them back. Sometimes I’ll make it easier and measure them out in TSP or TBSP and place the original spice container back.
4) Make a checklist: This is a checklist inside a checklist almost. Make sure you have a checklist as you do your shopping and prepping to make sure you don’t repeat anything or skip a step. Your list should include, a day, a time, list of meals, coupons, and even cooking times. It could seem tedious to make a checklist but it will save you time in the long run. Once you make your list for the week you can just go shopping in peace without having to worry about finding things or even over spending. Stick to your list, get what you need, and get out. Once you get home utilize the rest of the things on this page and you should have a great planning experience!
MEAL PREPPING One of the things I love about meal prepping is that you can get it done in multiple ways. If you know the fundamentals of meal prepping you can adjust it to fit your lifestyle and your needs. Meal prepping is something that has been useful for years in the bodybuilding world and now it has spilled over. I personally think that meal prepping is very important when it comes to any part of your wellness, especially weight loss. The organization alone can allow you to save time and use that time to improve other areas of your wellness. You may be asking yourself that exactly meal prepping is, which is a great question. I’m sure you have seen people post their containers full of food on Facebook or some other social media site to show their prep for the next few days. Some of those posts are good and can help you but others are just posted for attention. When it comes to meal prepping I feel like some people think it’s simply putting meals in a clear container and freezing them. It’s more to the process than that. This really uses my 3 pillars of success, Principle, Patience, Focus! The first thing you need to do is get a shopping list of some sort together to figure out what you want to prep. I would recommend spending about an hour getting your list together and going through ads to see if you can find deals on some of the items. We all would like to save a little money shopping! Creating a list saves you time in the store, without one you may just wander around and put random stuff in your basket which is never a good thing. The most effective way for me to shop is to buy enough food for a 4-day prep. This way I am getting enough food but I am also keeping my meals fresh. Prepping for too many days at a time can cause the food to not taste as fresh and you end up throwing it away and wasting money. It may also cause you to become discouraged and begin eating on impulse. Meal prep also doesn’t mean you must cook the meals as soon as you get them. Sometimes I will season my meat and place in the freezer until it is time for me to use that specific food. This way when it comes time, all that’s left to do is take it out, and prepare it. The best thing you can do when it comes to your prep is keep it simple. Too many times people over prepare, and defeat the whole purpose of prepping. Another thing that I can’t mention enough when it comes to prepping is make sure you keep yourself engaged. Eating the same thing multiple days in a row can be boring. Make sure you are keeping your meals fresh and diverse. Speaking from personal experience, when things are long and drawn out I lose interest, fast! You may also want to consider preparing your meals according to food groups. For example, prepare and cut all your fruits and vegetables and place in a container. Then prepare your grains separately and set aside. Last prepare your proteins and set aside. Something that you may also find useful is using different color tops for each food group. The things I want you to take away from this meal prep section is this:
Pick your prep day.
Create a list.
Keep your meals simple.
Season your meats.
Separate according to food group
Enjoy your meals!
Another cool bodybuilding concept that has spilled over to everyday life is carb cycling. I love carb cycling and the reason is because we all probably do it and don’t realize it. Carb cycling is rotating or cycling your foods out between high and low carb days. High carb days are usually placed on your heavy workout days for your body to use and lower carb days are usually placed on your rest days or light training. High carb days are usually 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. So, if you are 150 lbs. you should aim for 300 grams of carbs on your high carb days. On your low carb days, you should aim for about .5 grams per pound of body weight. This would be 75 grams of carbs if you weight about 150 lbs. You can also add in a “no carb day” which is an extremely low carb day. I don’t recommend this but anything less than 35 grams of carbs is what I would consider a low carb day. You should also aim for complex carbs. When it comes to food selection while performing carb cycling for fat loss, you want to think glucose. Either simple glucose sources or complex carbohydrates that will break down into glucose. What you want to avoid here is fructose (such as high fructose corn syrup), as this type of carbohydrate will behave differently in the body and won't have the same benefits as glucose does. If you were to intake a large amount of fructose on your high carbohydrate days, there is a much greater chance some of this may get converted into body fat gains since it won't get stored in the muscles as readily. On your high carb days, you also want to make sure you are decreasing your fat intake. This is because you are going to be taking in quite a few more calories on your high carbohydrate days. It is normal for most people to increase their overall calories on the high carb day, but by lowering the fat intake, you allow more room for those carbohydrates without going overboard with your calorie level. You to stay within 300-500 calories of your low carbohydrate day intake to prevent the excess calories from canceling out the fat loss for the week unless you are specifically planning to have very low calorie, low carb days!