By Cat Sharp

Do You Hate Meal Prep As Much As I Do?

There are a lot of awesome helpful blogs, videos, and social media posts showing how to meal prep for weight loss success. The idea is that if you have a set plan, with easy to grab and eat prepared meals and snacks, then you are more likely to follow through with the plan.

The problem is that you read these blogs, watch the videos, and follow these influencers online, go “all in” on a detailed meal prep plan, just to feel guilty or inadequate because you can’t seem to keep up with that level of meal prep for very long.

So let’s talk about how to meal prep for real life.

“There will inevitably be a moment when following my plan is nearly impossible. A doctor’s appointment runs late, or a flat tire leaves me stranded for a while, or we decide last minute to go out for lunch after church. In those moments, having a strict “only eat this” kind of plan often leads to the “eh, it’s a treat meal” attitude, which leads to food choices that are far from helpful to my goal.”

I really despise meal prep. I completely understand the concept behind it, but it infuriates me! Here are just a few of the reasons I despise meal prep:

I got tired of eating the same microwaved leftovers. I am pretty boring, and I can absolutely eat the same thing over and over. But when that is the only option because that’s all I have prepped, I start to get bored and resentful of it.

I got tired of doing all those horrible dishes! I don’t think this one needs much explanation. Meal prep = dishes. Gross.

Life happens. There will inevitably be a moment when following my plan is nearly impossible. A doctor’s appointment runs late, or a flat tire leaves me stranded for a while, or we decide last minute to go out for lunch after church. In those moments, having a strict “only eat this” kind of plan often leads to the “eh, it’s a treat meal” attitude, which leads to food choices that are far from helpful to my goal.

And since you’re still reading, I’m gonna guess you feel me on this.

So let’s talk about what I do instead.

First - Plan Ahead

Of course I plan! I’m a huge advocate of planning ahead. I have learned that eating what I want when I want leads to poor choices, so I do what I can to avoid that pitfall. But I also know that my life is unpredictable enough that setting a down-to-the-minute plan for a week or two in advance does more harm than good. So I do it a little differently.

Weekly:
I print a meal planner and write in breakfast, lunch, and 4 or 5 dinner ideas. Breakfast and lunch are pretty easy, since I only need to worry about myself. I only write 4 or 5 dinners because it leaves a few nights open to eat leftovers so that nothing goes bad. Dinners are flexible; we can eat any of the dinners on the list on any night, depending on our schedule. (tip – I have learned that Fridays are the night I’m most likely to be tempted to do takeout, so I will almost always put something in the crock pot early in the day. I’m less likely to order takeout if there is something fresh, warm, and tasty in the crock pot!)

Daily:
After my Bible time each morning, I look at my weekly meal planner and write out the plan for the day. Breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner. I only choose from what I wrote out at the beginning of the week, unless something drastic has happened to change that plan. If my plan includes eating out, I will look at the menu online and decide ahead of time what I will order. I will choose something that I will enjoy, but also that will help me stay on track. At the restaurant, I won’t open my menu, and when the server asks for orders, I will order first. That way I am less likely to be tempted to order something different.

Next - Implement It!

No plan works if you don’t put it into practice! Here are my favorite tips for actually sticking to the plan!

Batch Cook:
I make large batches of ingredients, not meals. I cook chicken, roasted veggies, brown rice, eggs, etc. I wash and cut veggies and fruits. This way I have everything I need to throw together a meal that meets my needs, but I can use different combinations or seasonings to have a “new” meal if I’m getting bored with the same old thing.

Get Some Cute Dishes!
I really got tired of eating out of plasticware. When I was working for someone else and taking my lunch, plastic was important because I tend to be a smidge clumsy, and glass is far too easily broken for me to be taking it to work. But now that I work from home, we use almost exclusively glass containers. I have a few cute bowls and plates that I like to use for my lunch (when I eat alone. For dinner I use our regular family dishes). There is something about eating from cute tableware that makes the meal feel special – which also helps prevent my brain from seeking a treat afterward!

Have a backup plan.
Life happens, y’all. So knowing that, I keep a note saved in Evernote (which is accessible on my phone) of some quick takeout options that taste good, but will keep me on track. That way if I find myself stuck at an appointment or an emergency arises, I have options for food that will keep me from jumping face-first into a pizza!