Our latest edition of How to Meal Prep is brought to us by Tiffany Gaston, internationally published fitness model, writer, and paleo cook (not to mention mom and wife) who loves to promote clean eating and healthy lifestyles for the whole family. We couldn’t have dreamed of a better fit to pen this meal prep edition! Get her insight below on how to stay prepared at all times so you never have to sacrifice your paleo diet.
Preparing your meals can save you time and money, as well as simplify your days by making clean eating a routine. Life happens, whether you are training for a fitness competition, trying to drop a few pound or maintaining your already fit physique. Preparing meals in advance can help maintain your sanity and is the only surefire way to get on track and stay there. Let’s take it one step further and give you the how to meal prep, my way: paleo.
The paleo diet, based upon eating the way our ancestors did prior to the agricultural era, has numerous health benefits. This anti-inflammatory diet allows for grass-fed meats, seafood, eggs, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and healthy fats like avocado, coconut and olive oils. Once you can get past what you can’t have, following this type of diet is very simple. I love to eat lots of good quality food, feel great and train hard, so living like a modern day cave girl covers all my bases. The best part is enjoying 1-3 open meals per week (think cheat meals) once you are within your desired weight range. This helps keep you on track by occasionally enjoying the things that are not so paleo and helps boost metabolic regulating hormones. Win, win!
Through the elimination of grains, dairy and processed foods, one can experience improved mood and energy levels, weight loss, better sleep, clearer skin and the list goes on. If you are like me and enjoy eating a paleo/primal diet, preparing your meals in advance is no more difficult than any other way of eating. That said, like any meal preparation, it takes advance thought and planning to keep you kickin’ it like a contemporary caveman.
Begin by planning your meals for the week. Consider your favorite proteins. I suggest at least 3 options to avoid boredom. Review recipes of interest and determine what foods are necessary to these meals and make your list. Choose an ideal day to spend a good chunk of time cooking and portioning meals. If Sunday is your go-to, aim to hit the store in advance so you can fire up the grill or oven and get down to business.
When cooking in bulk, it’s best to utilize a wholesale club such as Costco as much as possible, because buying in bulk saves you money. Items like grass-fed beef or bison, organic chicken and wild caught fish can all be purchased at a huge savings over your local grocer. Whether you are preparing meals for one week or more, purchase accordingly. When it comes to produce, I prefer to shop every few days for fresh, but if that’s not realistic for you, frozen veggies are a great alternative. Additionally, buying plenty of veggies can be both portioned and frozen. Consider what works best for you.
Time to get cooking! Sauté, grill, bake, slow-cook, brown, broil or whatever suits your fancy. Cook up all of your protein sources, hard-boiled eggs, sweet potatoes, and any other foods that will need advance preparation. This is a key element to your success and the biggest time saver of all in how to meal prep. This step of cooking in bulk allows you to simply heat up or defrost your meals and eat. For many of us, it’s not uncommon to indulge in cold meals occasionally. This isn’t the best choice, but still often better than the alternative.
Depending on your dietary needs and goals, once your proteins are fully cooked, use a food scale to accurately measure your portions. You can find a great digital scale for under $20 and it will be your new best friend. Portion and pack into airtight containers or Ziploc bags and store in refrigerator if being consumed in 3-4 days or freezer if longer. Portioning your meals accurately is key because just as eating too many calories can delay progress, consuming too few calories can equally hinder your efforts. Knowing exactly what you consume in a day can be the only solid factor in expecting any outcome. In the event you need to reevaluate your meal plan, you have a baseline for what did or didn’t work to your advantage.
The use of any of the 6 Pack Bag Series provides a convenient and classy way to take your meals on the go. Never having to worry about locating healthy options is the best way to ensure you stay on track. Stuck in traffic, forced to stay late at the office or your day is just not going as planned? No problem. If you have your 6 Pack meal management system on board, you’ll never skip a beat! My personal favorite is the Vixen Elite Bowler gym tote, a functional and stylish choice for anyone who has a million places to be.
1. Invest in some travel-sized bottles for vinegars and oils and an extra set of measuring spoons. Calories from healthy fats and condiments quickly add up, so accurately measuring is essential.
2. Use lots of fresh herbs, spices, and salt-free seasonings to add great flavor to your food and keep sodium at a minimum.
3. Be sure to pack your H2O! Just as toting meals is important, so too is your hydration.
4. Use a slow cooker as much as possible. Cook food while you sleep or while you are out of the house being highly productive. Anything you can do to simplify the meal prep process will help you stay on track.
For more of Tiffany Gaston’s work, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. You can also take a look at more of our How to Meal Prep guides and find the best gym backpack or gym tote for you!