3 Steps For Easy Meal Prepping Success (Fitness Strategies Part 3)

Fitness Strategies Part 3: Meal Prepping The Easy Way | Cooking Up Happiness

Do you ever get sick of the same foods while “dieting”? Are you always counting down the days to the next cheat day, or the day you’ll finally be done with your diet?

Wouldn’t it be nice if for once you had a diet that didn’t FEEL like a diet – but instead felt like simple lifestyle changes that let you “diet” and make progress while enjoying the entire process?

I know it seems way too good to be true, but it’s totally possible!

Let me just start off by saying the most important thing is to find an approach that works for you and your lifestyle (but also one that’s based on science and will be conducive to your goals) and stick to that… That’s really how you should approach the “diet” and “nutrition” part.

I’ll be writing a post on calories and macros – and how to set all that up in a diet plan for losing fat – in a separate post. Check back soon for that 🙂

That said, there’s not a “one size fits all” approach when it comes to dieting.

First, every person is different and we all have varying degrees of busy lifestyles. And second, something that isn’t acknowledged as much as it should be concerning diets and adherence: it can make a BIG difference being a male or a female.

I see tons of these fitness programs out there that include a diet and meal plans – which is awesome – but they don’t work for everyone!

For example, if it wasn’t for me cooking all the time (for this site mostly, lol), my husband would be perfectly happy with cooking the same thing every day. Me on the other hand… I can’t do that! I can eat the same lunch for a few weeks at a time, then change it up. But for dinners, I’m always making something different. I love variety and to be blunt, I love food! (I guess that’s why I do what I do – haha!)

In this post, I’m going to break down exactly what I do on a weekly basis when it comes to meal prep to make things as easy as possible while making great choices that support your goals. I’ll give you multiple easy options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.. And maybe a few snacks, too 🙂

TIP: My first tip for dieting is to not look at it like “dieting” or else you won’t stick to it… Believe me, I’ve tried every kind of diet and when you restrict yourself too much, you’re more likely to binge or cheat – which can impact your progress, your body and your self-esteem.

Try to look at this as a way to eat the things you enjoy (healthier options, obviously) with regular exercise from the program of your liking and focus on just making progress. Sounds too good to be true, but bear with me…

I’m going to do a quick run-through of what we do on a weekly basis, everything from breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few snacks in there!

I find that if you’re eating things you actually enjoy, you won’t feel as tempted to cheat. My suggestion would be to pick a few of your favorite recipes and make them for a few weeks, then rotate them out for a few more. This should help you stay on track without getting bored.

That said, let’s get into it…

Breakfast/Snacks

Skinny Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Skinny Peanut Butter Banana Muffins (link below)

In the program I’m doing (which I talk about in this post), it calls for a dieting “hack” called intermittent fasting… Sometimes I’m able to do that no problem, but other times I need a little something to hold me over.

If you don’t know what Intermittent Fasting is, this post on Kinobody does a great job at explaining it.

When I DO have breakfast, I tend to keep the calories pretty low since I know myself and that I will want to eat more later…. Just listen to your body. I can not stress how important that is!

Depending on what program you’re doing, if you’re trying to lose weight you’ll have a certain amount of macros (proteins, fats and carbs) and calories for the day. So as long as you stay within that, whether that’s having a bigger breakfast (if that’s your thing) or maybe even having some fro-yo at night… Just make it work for you and your own personal cravings.

Breakfast/Snack Options Under 300 Calories:

Easy Protein Shake (125 Calories, 2 g Fat, 4 g Carbs, 23 g Protein)

[ingredients title=”Ingredients”]

  • 1 scoop of protein powder (I use Legion Dutch Chocolate)
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla cashew milk (you can use almond milk or a low-fat milk)
  • a handful of ice

[/ingredients]

[directions title=”Directions”]

  1. Blend together.
  2. Enjoy!

[/directions]

Honey-Cinnamon Cottage Cheese (220 Calories, 2 g Fat, 29 g Carbs, 26 g Protein)

[ingredients title=”Ingredients”]

  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • cinnamon, sprinkled on-top

[/ingredients]

[directions title=”Directions”]

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

[/directions]

Other Options:

LunchSpinach Chicken Salad with Apples and Goat Cheese

When it comes to lunches, I usually meal prep the Sunday before (we’ll get into that more in a minute), or just make the same thing for a few weeks and then switch it up. I find it easier that way so you don’t have to think every night, “What am I having for lunch tomorrow?”

Lately, I’ve been making salads for lunch since we’re trying to cut out carbs around lunch (and save them for dinner). Spinach salads with lots of lean protein keep you full and satisfied without the “afternoon crash.”

On that note, here are my “go-to” lunch-time salads:

My Go-To Salads

Chopped Salad (281 Calories, 17g Fat, 38g Carbs, 54g Protein) 

[ingredients title=”Ingredients”]

  • 2 sliced of smoked ham (I use Hormel Natural Choice), sliced and cubed
  • 2 slices of smoked turkey (I use Hormel Natural Choice), sliced and cubed
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 cup chopped cucumber
  • 3 egg whites, hard boiled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp. of light dressing (I use Ken’s Lite Thousand Island)
  • a few cups spinach and arugula mix

[/ingredients]

[directions title=”Directions”]

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Toss until combined.

[/directions]

Spinach Chicken Salad with Apples and Goat Cheese (344 Calories, 9g Fat, 32g Carbs, 30g Protein)

Frozen Meals (a.k.a. Faster Options)

Great thing is, you can find most of these at your local grocery store.

Another great thing to keep in mind is that if you make recipes for dinner (we’ll get to those below) that make multiple servings you can have leftovers that make for a perfect lunch the next day.

If you’re looking for some healthier take-out options, you’ll find a list of some here.

Dinners

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Dinner is my favorite meal of the day!

One because I love to cook at create new tasty dishes, I like to make a meal that is easy and quick so I can enjoy the rest of the evening with my husband and I usually like to leave more calories for dinner cause I’m more likely to eat a bigger dinner (and maybe have a cocktail in there occasionally).

Above I listed some frozen quick meals for those days that you don’t feel like cooking or don’t have to the time!

My Favorite Main Dishes

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My Favorite Side Dishes

[unordered_list style=”green-dot”]

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* On days that you might not have time to make your own fries or potato wedges, try the frozen Alexia brand! Our favorites are the waffle cut fries and sweet potato fries. They are a great healthier option (just make sure to weigh out your portion).

Now of course, these are just a few of my favorite recipes that we make on a weekly basis… Not only are most of them pretty easy to make, but they’re healthy with great macros and keep me full and satisfied.

Oh, and they all make leftovers – which makes lunches the next day even easier 🙂

3 Steps To Meal Prepping Success

Step #1: Pick a day to prep.

When it comes to the actual meal prep part of it, I would suggest doing all your prepping on Sunday.

I know that it sounds like a pain, but I’m telling you – it’s the best feeling to wake up Monday morning and know you’ve set yourself up for success for the week! (Obviously, it doesn’t have to be Sunday specifically, but I find that works best for us.)

Step #2: Get a “Buddy System” going.

No, seriously! If you have someone that’s going to hold you accountable to your goals, you’re MUCH more likely to follow through with the actions that will help you reach them.

In my case, my husband and I formed a buddy system. We each have the same goals and like to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, so every Sunday morning we sit down over coffee and make our grocery and meal list for the week. This makes it SO much easier to stick to a plan that will bring you closer to your goals.

Side Note: if you pick out a few meals/recipes that you both enjoy, it takes some of the “guesswork” out of trying to come up with a list of meals each week that sound good and are healthy (which is a daunting task in itself!).

Step #3: Make grocery shopping fun (instead of another chore).

Once you make your list, go to the store… But make it fun! Like I said, whether it’s your husband, best friend, sister, kids or just yourself – don’t make it seem like a chore; make it a day you treat yourself and get something you wouldn’t normally get so you actually look forward to it.

Example: Tom and I love Starbucks, so sometimes we’ll get light frappuccinos as a little reward to sip on as we’re getting our groceries.

We always turn grocery shopping into a sort of “day date” – we stop and get a coffee together and bring it with to the store (if you shop at Target, you’ll know they have a Starbucks in there and even those handy little cup holders that attach to the cart to hold your drink). You can sip your coffee while you shop and talk, and get excited about the week ahead and how much ass you’re going to kick! Haha.

It might sound like a silly idea, but it works for us. I must confess – it’s nice to take that time to disconnect from the phones and just spend some time together.

It’s also really fun to do this with a friend because they might have tried things you haven’t, so you can give each other great tips and suggestions! (Maybe even get some ingredients for an awesome healthy meal and make it into a girls night!)

The Bottom Line…

We are all busy and lead totally different, hectic and exciting lives… So don’t look at the food part of your diet or lifestyle change as something to dread; instead, look at it as something to embrace and enjoy!

Because lets face it… Life is too short to eat boring food 🙂

You don’t have to be a chef or someone that cooks all the time to be successful at your goals. Find meals that work for your lifestyle. For you, that might mean a combination of home-cooked meals, quick – but healthy – takeout like Chipotle one night (which we have at least once a week!), and a healthy frozen meal to bring to work.

Between the recipes and resources in this post, you should have all you need to make it happen… You can do this!

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Emily

EMILY NESS is a full-time food and lifestyle author who’s passionate about developing simple yet mouth-watering recipes that anyone can make. Since founding her website CookingUpHappiness.com in 2013, she’s went on to share her passion for cooking healthy and tasty recipes with the thousands of people around the world.

Emily Ness

Sharing a passion for food and fitness to live a healthy lifestyle - with the occasional hint of chocolate.

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