By Luke Crossley, The Training Room

Many people are familiar with the concept of meal prepping and understand, to varying degrees, its importance for achieving health and fitness goals. But, on the other hand, many people use a “lack of time” as the main excuse for giving it a miss. With that said, meal prepping is a bit like anything else in life… To make it happen YOU need to make time for it. Thankfully, there are several simple hacks that will enable you to become a meal prepping master!

When people say, “I can’t prep because I don’t have enough time,” I always argue that there must be a day, evening, or pocket of free time each week when you’re able to fit this in. If you can make time for the latest episode of EastEnders, then surely you can also find time to rustle up a few healthy meals?! To make life easier, why not add it to your weekly calendar, or set a reminder on your phone?

I spend an hour every evening cooking my meals for the next day, but one of the things that’s worked really well for my personal training clients is getting them to do it on a weekly basis. The Sunday cook-up is a great way to go about meal prepping, as it’s a day when people – especially in the UK – tend to cook larger, more hearty meals – leaving leftovers which are perfect for boxing up and eating for lunch during the week.

Boxed meals - meal prepping

Personally, some of my favourite foods to batch-cook are rice, chicken and vegetables. I store some in the fridge for the first few days of the week and the rest in the freezer to stay fresh. Tinned foods such as tuna, mixed beans and pulses are also good ingredients to use, as they’re convenient, nutritious and cheap. Once you have your meals ready, there’s no excuse for a quick McDonald’s or store-bought sandwich; costs that can soon add up! Which brings me nicely on to another point… Meal prepping can save you a fair few pennies!

Although there’s a bundle of meal prepping information online, it’s hard to cut through the noise and understand which advice is best, so, if you’re able to, I’d always recommend enlisting the help of a Personal Trainer (PT) because they’ll be able to match your nutrition plan to your health and fitness goals. Otherwise, what I’ve found in the past is that people just end up following the latest trends. For example, vegetarian and vegan diets are massive at the moment, so it would be easy to follow the crowd instead of choosing the nutrition programme that’s best suited to your goals and personal preferences.

Another point to make is that it’s not just about eating the right foods, but also about eating the right quantities at the right times in line with your lifestyle and any training programmes that you may be on, which can be difficult to understand just by reading a couple of articles (especially to the untrained eye). A PT will be able to assist you with all of this, ensuring you’re on the road to success.

Meal portions - healthy eating

However, if seeking the help of a PT is not an option, meal prepping alone is a great first step and you’ll certainly notice a difference just by swapping a few supermarket meal deals for home-cooked lunches.

Also, consider which meals you need to prep. If you’re someone who always skips breakfast flying out the door to work, then make sure you get this ready the night before. In order to reap the benefits of exercise, and generally stay healthy, you need to be consistently fuelling your body in the correct way so being well-prepared will help to eliminate those costly missed meals.

Lastly, if looking after your children is stopping you from fitting in your meal prep, then why not involve them in the process? Not only could this be fun, but you’ll also be educating your little ones on the importance of nutrition, helping them to lead healthy lives when they’re older.

Meal prepping with children

So, there you have it. Meal prepping really doesn’t have to be that hard and can be achieved regardless of a busy schedule! And with so many benefits, from improved health to extra money in your pocket, the time to start is now. Good luck!

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