A home-cooked meal is better than a burger on the go! I suppose this is the idea in defense of the meal prep trend, and weight loss being a major goal. People continue to share stories on Instagram about how meal prepping has changed their lives for the better. It’s becoming an obsession but a positive one. Apart from saving a few hours in a week, many people are actually prepping meals so they are sure of what they cook and eat. They are keen on foods that’ll make them lead a healthier life while maintaining a reasonable weight.
However, watch out!
If you have just taken the meal prep route or you’ve been prepping for a while now, you ought to be cautious of some bumps that might cause weight gain.
We’ve identified 5 meal prep mistakes that may make you gain weight and offered ideal solutions so you can have a smooth ride on meal prep highway.
A little taste of what’s on your crockpot is okay. But, when you keep picking two, three, and four times, you end up eating the food way before it gets to your table. Add those mini bites to the real meal you’ll eat on dinner time and you consume more than you should. Make it a habit and it won’t come as a surprise if you gain a few pounds in a couple of weeks.
Solution: First, avoid cooking when feeling hungry. Food entices an empty stomach so the temptation to eat while cooking is high. Instead, prep after you’ve had a meal – after lunch or dinner. A stick of mint or gum in your mouth while prepping is also a nice idea. Not only that gum will keep you focused on prepping but it’s also said to reduce the feeling of hunger and cravings.
It is easy to get carried away with the likes of chicken, beef, and other quick-to-reheat foods, and forget vegetables. Remember that greens are the key ingredients to weight loss while it’s common sense that a balanced diet ought to include produce. If you are not eating greens, chances are that you’re eating meals with high-fat content and calorie density. In that case, you are likely to gain weight faster than you can imagine.
Solution: There’s no otherwise. Veggies and fruits must be part of your daily diet. Otherwise, this is what will happen to you if you don’t eat produce.
Make sure to include veggies in your budget and make good use of your freezer to keep them fresh for long. Throw some handfuls into your favorite dishes every day. Even if you like having veggies separate, the good thing is that they are quick to steam and reheat when needed.
This blunder cuts either side; make little servings that don’t fill you enough, and you’ll find yourself craving for sugar crashes and fast foods later in the day. Serve too much and overeating becomes the norm. Yet the truth is, most of us are unlikely to stop eating until our plates are cleared.
The trick: Learn some portion control strategies that include striking the proper balance between carbs, proteins and healthy fats. The same applies to freezing foods in the right portions. If you don’t portion out food before you throw into the freezer, it’s difficult to get the right portion later when you want to eat it. And, keep in mind container size to food portion – your quinoa container doesn’t have to be the same size as the one you use for beans. Did you know that a 750ml mason jar is about 4 portions of soup?
“Learn the tips of proper portion control in our next article”
If you don’t include snacks in your meal prep, you are setting yourself up for a fiasco. The lolly on your colleague’s desk, the cookies in the break room, and the cakes from across the street will come calling.
Solution: Make it a point to plan your snacks alongside your main dishes. It really doesn’t take much; a banana, some handfuls of nuts or almonds, or Greek yogurt can do the trick.
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If you are prepping the same meals every week, you are driving yourself to meal prep boredom. That is like the rock bottom of meal prep because then the chances of starting to eat out increases drastically. Eating out regularly means you’ll not be in absolute control of what you eat, so it’s easy to indulge in everything that comes to your table. It will also be easy for you to give in to your sugar cravings, which are the top weight-increasing suspects.
Solution: Be sure to rotate your recipes week after week. I personally wouldn’t do grilled beef with cabbage and rice every other day, neither should you. Try new recipes and new cooking methods so your meals can have new flavors every other time.
Is that hard to do? We, at ChefDine, are happy to help, whether to meal prep for you or to offer a free consultation. Just go here and see how it works.
Also, be sure to check how to avoid meal prep boredom and spice up things in your kitchen.
One last thing, are you prepping food and then not eating it to the last bit? Then you need to work on your meal prep goals because that is a waste of time and money!