A Little Bit of Meal Prep Goes a Long Way

How Cooking Translates to Natural Weight Loss

 The word “cooking” can instantly trigger fatigue and/or anxiety. It’s another to-do to add to the long list, but the amount of time it saves in the end — and how you feel about making your own food — is entirely worth it actually reduces anxiety. Meal planning is a major key to clean eating, whole food eating and weight loss. We’ve found that when you’re cooking your food, you have more control. The food you cook yourself is more nutrient dense, you’re fuller longer and it translates to natural weight loss. The trick is to set yourself up for eating well through the day. That means you have to find time during your busy week for some food prep and cooking.

How often do you find yourself home from work, in the kitchen deciding what to cook for dinner and searching for something to chew on in the meantime? When you don’t have the food you want, you jeopardize eating food that won’t get you to your goals. You’ll go out, order-in or just graze on unhelpful snacks like chips and dip. At that point, your blood sugar is dropping and you’re just grabbing what’s convenient.

Meal planning ensures a little more energy balance — you won’t need to grab something mindlessly. It’s good to have a plan and perhaps a meal waiting for you when you get home. And, of course, it’s nice to know what’s for dinner! Healthy Nest has a few easy tips and tricks for successful food planning — answers to the “what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner?” questions without too much time, energy or effort.

Make Prep Time a Habit:

Carve out some time, 1-2 times a week, to identify a couple of recipes, buy the ingredients, clean the produce and do some chopping. Literally, this means that you decide what you’re going to make, make a grocery list, go to the store and wash your produce. That might be enough time spent on food for one timeframe. In the next time slot, plan time to spend time cooking your recipes. Since you’re in the kitchen anyway, it’s a good use of time to make several recipes at once.

Identify what 1-2 hour timeframes work for you in your busy week. Actually, put two timeframes in on your weekly calendar and don’t schedule over your food-planning time!

This exercise is about taking the guesswork out of the “what am I going to eat this week” game and having healthy, whole food at the ready. Carve out no more than 2 hours in the kitchen on the weekend and 1 hour during the week. Choose a down time when you are normally not busy. You can accomplish a lot of good work in 1 or 2 hours. We like Saturday +/or Sunday mornings or afternoons, and/or Wednesday evenings. That way you don’t have to tackle the entire weeks amount of food at once—you’re planning for just a few days. Hopefully, you can find some enjoyment in feeding yourself home cooked food. You’ll be surprised that just a little bit of work makes quite a bit of food, and food that tastes better. Also, it will be more nourishing, and less expensive than the restaurant food you’re defaulting to.

Leftovers Are Your Friend

More work upfront makes for less work later on. Leftover dinners make terrific dinners or lunches the next day. When we cook our own food we naturally have more control over what you eat, the portions are more aligned with what your body needs, and it’s probably more delicious than what you could go buy. To ensure left overs, double the recipe. After dinner, keep a couple of servings out for another dinner or lunch(es) and freeze the rest. You can defrost and enjoy the recipe again in 2 weeks time. It will be doubly delicious, because you didn’t have to work for it. We suggest stir-fry’s, roasted or grilled animal proteins, a grain/bean dish, or your favorite chunky soups and salads. It doesn’t need to be fancy. It should be whole and delicious.

Successful Brown Bagging (bringing your lunch)

You need the right equipment to successfully bring your lunch to work (or school). Invest in 3 portable containers with secure lids that are JUST the right size for your delicious left over meal. —not to big, not too small, easy to pack and will not leak! Having the proper size containers ensures you’ll always have one at the ready. This routine does not work if you only have one container because you will NOT be able to wash it each night.

When you’re cleaning up dinner, pack your next day’s lunch with dinner’s left overs. —small detail, but very important for the continued do-ability factor.

Scheduling time for planning and prepping a couple of recipes answers the ongoing problem of ‘what to eat’ in nourishing, delicious whole food way. It is foundational to clean eating and natural weight loss routine. If you’re interested in learning more tips for natural weight loss or clean eating, connect with us here at Healthy Nest Nutrition.