I just learned some strategies on how to implement your best way to meal prep for the week as I climbed Mission Peak with my good friend and mentor, Paul Hoyt.
Paul lost 20 lbs about 3 years ago and has kept it off.
How? A variety of mindsets and behavior changes, including meal prepping.
(No – he didn’t just do one thing. There is no magic diet pill or appetite suppressant!)
So first things first, let’s get cover briefly the benefits of meal prepping before we get into some nontraditional strategies about best way to meal prep for the week.
- Can help save money
- Can ultimately save time
- Can help with weight control, as you decide the ingredients and portions served
- Can contribute to an overall more nutritionally balanced diet
- Can reduce stress as you avoid last minute decisions about what to eat, or rushed preparation
Now most likely, I’m betting you already know meal prep and having some structure to your week is one of the keys to weight loss.
Am I correct?
Nontraditional mindsets to create your best way to meal prep for the week
Mindset #1, are you ready?
Meal Prep In Bulk Saves You 2x The Time
No one has time for meal prep, right?
Monday morning comes around, you’re off to work, get kids to school, etc.
Since you haven’t packed lunch, a few days a week you go out to eat. Some restaurants, some healthy fast food, etc.
Pretty normal, right?
Well … here’s the key.
Instead of meal prepping each morning, spend 2 hours and do it on the weekend.
I know what you’re thinking, 2 hours? No way!
But remember those benefits: weight loss control, avoid stress making last minute decisions, more energy, save money …
And yeah, that last benefit about saving time.
Think about it. How much time do you spend:
- Driving to places to eat
- Waiting in line
- Fighting through traffic
- Planning out where you’re going to drive
- Waiting for your phone to load google maps if you have a slow phone like me 🙂
The bottom line is the meal prep – when you do it in bulk over the weekend – has so many benefits. Time is not an excuse!
Let’s ask Paul about his best ways to meal prep for the week
I just climbed Mission Peak in San Jose with Paul.
The guy standing next to me is my good ole’ mentor and friend, Paul.
At the top we were huffing and puffing. It was crazy. My expectations were way off.
The hike was almost straight up!
Fortunately Paul brought food.
Can you imagine what would have happened if there was no food? We would’ve been starving!
Even calm guys like Paul and I …
We would’ve gotten HANGRY.
No doubt there would’ve been violence had Paul not brought a few Builder Bars.
And remember, Paul has lost 20 lbs and kept off 20 lbs over 2 years.
So why is Paul eating Builder Bars and not natural balanced meal prepped meals?
Well, I asked Paul that question and now I get to share with you Paul’s simple wisdom:
Bring food with you so you don’t starve.
This simple statement contains a lot of wisdom.
Paul doesn’t say you have to have the healthiest snacks. He doesn’t say you need to cook elaborate meals.
He says … don’t starve. Basically the point I am trying to make is keep things simple.
A handful of nuts will do the trick. It’s more important to avoid starvation and deprivation than to worry about getting the perfect meal.
It works for Paul. What are you thoughts?
But there’s gotta be more to the best ways to meal prep for the week – what does Paul do specifically to meal prep?
Paul thinks the most important thing is to embrace meal prep for the long-term, and to do meal prep for months on end there are two things that must happen.
- You must get full from your meal prep
- Meal prep can’t take much time
Let’s touch on this first point: make meal prepping easy and fun.
Do not settle for anything less than easy and fun.
For most people this means …
#1 Don’t be worried about being perfect
Sometimes people think they need the healthiest meal prep to do it ‘right’
But the main benefit of meal prep is avoiding fast food restaurants (and saving money and time).
So basically, lower your standards. As you long as you’re eating better foods than the processed foods at restaurants, you’re doing okay.
Don’t worry so much about the nutrition. There’s no need to make it perfect. Shooting for perfection is what leads to food insecurity.
In fact, not worrying is huge important. It’s one of the 4 steps to not binge eat! I made another article here you can view about not binge eating.
#2 Brainstorming and creating a go-to list of foods
This makes it much easier in the hard times when you’re super busy …
Because you already have a list that you know is easy and fun.
Take for example one guy I was working with.
He had a kid and always was rushed on time.
But once he realized he could eat some of his favorite snacks like peanut butter sandwiches with honey on whole wheat toast – his whole life changed.
First of all, he wasn’t worrying so much about nutrition. He was being gentle with his nutrition, which just happens to be principle #10 of intuitive eating…
So peanutbutter and all that stuff was fine now.
And now he was saving hours a week NOT eating out, and saving money too. And stress.
Here are some ideas for healthy snacks:
- Mixed nuts. Nuts are an ideal nutritious snack
- Red bell pepper with guacamole. Red bell peppers are extremely healthy
- Greek yogurt and mixed berries.
- Apple slices with peanut butter. …
- Cottage cheese with flax seeds and cinnamon.
- Celery sticks with cream cheese.
- Kale chips.
- Dark chocolate and almonds.
#3 Start small
Don’t worry about getting meals for every single meal of every single day.
Start with the meal you skip the most frequently. For most people it’s either breakfast or lunch.
Start by prepping just 2-3 days of food for breakfast or lunch.
#4 Do all your meal prep at once
People always say they don’t have enough time for meal prep …
But if done right meal prep save hours of time each week!
The key is to do all your meal prep at once.
Go to the store, prepare the meals, and then they are ready to go!
We mentioned this before, but it’s such a great piece and even Harvard says to! This was a piece of advice from this Harvard article on meal prepping
#5 And last tip – measure how much time and stress you waste when you don’t have meal prep ready
This is a big surprise for a lot of people.
They say they don’t have time to meal prep.
But then they realize they are wasting nearly 5-10 hours a week searching out a restaurant to go to, waiting in line, ordering, eating, waiting for the bill, driving there.
And all that stress too.
And all that escapism too.
These things are not going to help you lose weight.
So, if you are resistant to meal prepping, don’t even worry about it.
But do get clear about the cost of NOT meal prepping. The time, stress and energy involved in the alternative to meal prep.
And then you make the decision. To meal prep, or let things happen on the fly? Up to you, let me know your decision!