Where to start? That is pretty much always the question. When you start something new, it can seem daunting and overwhelming. Here is how I started meal planning for myself and my husband. It does help that I am a chef and know about nutrition in the capacity of a professional chef.
Change only one type of meal for 3 weeks then add on. Whether its snacks, breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the meal only matters in whatever is easiest for you to stick to. For me I started with lunches.
I looked at what I wanted to do or what my goals were. There are so many people out there that will tell you their way is the best way, and it may be for them. But here is a tip, you’re a biological animal, and as such you are a complex creature. That means what works for one person does not always work for another. I wish it were so. I teach cake decorating and Baking and Pastry, and I often tell my students, that I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave and they would all be able to decorate a cake like a pro. However, what is required is experimentation and practice. The same goes for meal prep, and getting into the groove.
There are several ways to meal prep, but here are a few core things I focus on.
- Decide if you are going to count your calories only, watch/count your macros, or just eat intuitively.
- Get yourself a food scale if you are going to count your calories or macros.
- Decide what your goal is: Bulking, leaning, maintaining or something else
- Choose a protein, complex carb, and veggie/fruit
- Learn to prepare those things/gather recipes
- Get your Tupperware/lunch containers ready.
- Weigh and write down what you put in the containers, so that food entry into a tracker is much easier.
Now to count calories, macros, or eat intuitively. If you are newly embarking on a fitness journey, you may not be familiar. I will touch on these subjects to give you an base understanding, and tell you what I do. But first if you are going to count calories or macros you are going to want to calculate how much your body needs to eat to function. Here is a great website that will do that for you. It has a calorie calculator on it, that will give you your total daily energy expenditure or (TDEE). This is the amount of energy it would take your body to just lay in bed all day long, respirating, and living. Not getting up and mowing the lawn much less going to the gym to pump out a few sets.
Here is my recommendation: If you are just starting out. Count your Calories and Macros. The structure will be good for you. I have been doing this for years so I can eyeball some things.
Counting calories, has been done for many many… so many years. It is just that. You log your food, and figure out that a large boiled egg is about 75 calories. The calories in a medium apple is about 95 calories. Add those two together and you get 170 calories consumed for that snack. Simple right? Yup! There is more to nutrition than that of course but that is a good way to get your toes wet as it were. Counting calories alone though falls short, in that you can eat 300 calories of grapes, and 300 calories of doughnuts and it would be basically the same from a numbers standpoint. However, the nutritional value of 300 calories in grapes and 300 calories in doughnuts is extremely different. “
“DOES IT MATTER WHERE MY CALORIES COME FROM?
Human metabolism is complex, and gaining or losing weight takes more than hitting your calorie goal. Fat, protein, and carbohydrates all have different nutrient functions in the body, and an effective diet will include at least a little of all three macronutrients.
Theoretically, eating fewer calories than you expend can help you lose weight, but the type of calories you eat influences your results. For example, if you eat very low-carb and have trouble sleeping, your hunger levels could rise and you might struggle to keep your calorie intake low enough to lose weight. Or if you don’t eat enough calories from fat or carbs to power your workouts, you could end up burning fewer calories than you think, because you’re not giving it your all in the gym.”bodybuilding.com
I could not have said it better. So we know that calories count and where they come from counts. So now we go to learning what our macros are. Macros is a over view of what your body needs to run. Macro Nutrients are the carbs, proteins and fats your body needs. Just as I said earlier the kind of calorie you take in is important. While bacon is fun to eat and tasty, its protein and fat content are completely different than say the equivalent amount of chicken breast.
These are the Macros I need to hit every day to meet my goals. So not only do I need to make sure I eat enough calories, but I need to make sure I get this much protein in, and this much carbs in and this much fat in for my body to function like a well oiled machine.
👇 WOO! YOUR MACROS ARE BELOW 👇
Last kind of eating change would be intuitively eating. It sounds ridiculous at first, but eating when your body tells you that you need it. It sounds stupid but, we (especially Americans) are very bad at telling when we are hungry or when we are just having cravings. Do you want that piece of cheesecake cause you are hungry and skipped a meal, or do you want it cause you are craving sugar and your body needs protein and healthy fiber. That is usually my problem I don’t get enough protein given my own proclivities. I will eat more plant based. I will dedicate a blog post to what your cravings may mean you need later.
Now you will need a scale, and this is the one I use all the time. It is inexpensive and does what I need it to do. It is call Ozeri.
Now to the meal prep I did… This post has been long enough.
I prepped Sunday night for both myself and husbands, lunches. Lunches are the hardest meals for both of us to get in. This is the meal that helps us most to have prepped.
Protien – Chicken, black beans
Carb – brown rice, black beans, veggies
Fat – Chicken, black beans, and oil used in cooking
Yield 6 servings
- 5 x Chicken breast
- 1 tbs – Mrs. Dash Southwestern Chipotle seasoning
- 2 tsp – ground cumin
- 2 tbs – vegetable oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Garlic powder to taste
- Brown Rice – (Cook as directed on package)
- 1 can – Black Beans
- 6 cups – Broccoli and Cauliflower mixed veggies
- cherry tomatoes
- Cook your rice as the directions tell you
- chop chicken in to bite size pieces, heat pan up with two tbs of veggie oil. Season chicken and cook till chicken is done.
- Cook Broccoli and Cauliflower mixed veggies
- Open can of black beans and heat up in sauce pan. I added some garlic powder and a pinch of salt.
- Assemble into lunch boxes, I measured each item and wrote it down for easier entry into food tracker.
And last but not least, you will need a food tracker. I use the one that goes with my FitBit watch, but there are free ones out there. One of the best I have heard about is My Fitness Pal.
I track my macros, and this is what I prepared for myself and husband this last Sunday for lunches. I hope this helps if you are just getting started and if you have already been doing this. I hope this gives you an idea of what you can put into your lunches. Its simple just make things you will like to eat.
This has been a long post. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great day!