Spring often brings inspiration to live a healthier lifestyle, but sometimes, sticking to clean eating is just hard. Most of us don’t have the bandwidth to make a healthy, hearty meal every night. The good news is you don’t have to! A proven strategy for losing weight or improving eating habits is meal planning and prep. This simple act of cooking in bulk for a few, or all, meals over the course of the week encourages clean and healthy, yet tasty, food each day without the daily effort.
KC Healthy Cooking Executive Chef Jerry Dominique shared advice on the best way to maintain clean eating habits year round through the simple act of meal prep.
First, Plan Meals for Your Dietary Goals
The optimal diet plan should be personalized to your needs and situation. Understanding your goals makes it easier to decide what to eat and what to avoid.
To lose weight, aim for a calorie deficit and increase your fiber intake so you still feel full. To increase muscle mass, incorporate protein-rich foods and increase potassium to improve workout recovery. Consider your lifestyle. If you want to try out veganism, start slow and incorporate quinoa for a plant-based complete protein. If adjusting to a diabetic diet, add low-sugar fruits like kiwi, blueberries and grapefruit as well as veggies, nonfat dairy products and whole grains.
And treat yourself every now and then. “We need to learn to eat in moderation versus depriving ourselves of the foods that we grow up with,” Dominique urges.
Make sure to consult with a physician, dietitian or nutritionist before beginning a new diet to make sure it is right for you. “I suggest someone with a similar culture who understands the eating habits of islanders,” he says.
Streamline Your Shopping List
When meal planning for clean eating, find adaptable recipes that incorporate many of the same ingredients to minimize waste and simplify shopping. Go for a versatile protein, like chicken or salmon, that can be seasoned in endless ways and that pairs well with many grains and vegetables. “Vegetables need to constitute 50% of your plate,” guides Dominique. He suggests making salads and changing them up with different meats and vegetables each day.
Build Prepping Into Your Schedule
If you have a busy week coming up, reserve a weekend morning for grocery shopping and prepping. Factor in days you’re likely to eat out, like for a date or work meeting. Stashing healthy snacks in your desk or purse will help you avoid buying treats from the vending machine or a gas station if the day doesn’t go as expected.
And if you don’t have time to shop and cook in bulk, or you’re just not sure how to get started, sign up for a meal plan service. Companies like KC Healthy Cooking make it easy to get started on your nutritional journey by sending meals straight to your door. All you have to do is toss them in the oven and enjoy.