At the beginning of February, we started a brand new 6-week Fuel Your Body Nutrition Challenge.
If you missed it, you can read about it here. We are about to start Week 5, but if you’re new to this challenge, no worries! Jump in next week when we are preparing our meals for the busy week ahead.
To get the most out of this nutrition challenge, make sure to join our private Facebook group where you can share your experience and get in touch with fellow members of the 12 Minute Athlete Community.
Being a part of the community will not only help you to stay accountable with your own goals, but also see how others are doing, find support, share your successes and struggles, and of course, get some great, new meal ideas.
Every week during this challenge, we are focusing on one thing that helps us to improve our diet and keeps us on a healthy eating track. The focus of the Week 1 was to eat a protein-packed breakfast. On Week 2, we talked about the importance of healthy snacks. Week 3 was all about veggies, the nutritional powerhouse, and Week 4 we focused on having a nutritious post workout meal.
Week 5 of the Fuel Your Body Nutrition Challenge is all about meal prepping. Here’s why you should take time every weekend (or whatever day fits best in your schedule) to prepare foods for the week ahead:
Nutrition Challenge Week 5: Meal Prep: Healthy Lunches & Dinners
Preparing your meals for several days ahead is the key to success if you want to save a ton of time and stay on track eating healthy, nutrient dense foods that also taste good. Take those couple of hours a week to prepare your weekly meals ahead, and you’ll soon see how it makes your life easier and helps you to get closer to your health and fitness goals.
Why Should You Meal Prep?
There are several awesome ways that meal prep pays off. If you’re afraid that it’s going to take a crazy amount of time, know that that’s not the case at all, because you’ll actually end up saving time throughout the week.
Also, if you think that you’re not a master chef and meal prepping is to hard, then forget about that too–meal prep doesn’t have to mean whipping up gourmet meals. It’s actually pretty simple!
Here are some reasons why you should start preparing larger batches of meals ahead every week:
- It’s healthy. If you prepare your meals yourself, you know what ingredients you use. There will be no hidden fats, sugars, artificial colors or preservatives in your foods if you prepare them yourself. This is not to say that you should get overly obsessed about everything that you’re eating, but by eating healthy food most of the time, you will feel, look, and work out better, and end up being healthier overall.
- It saves you time in the kitchen. Taking a few hours once or twice a week to do your meal prep may seem like lot, but it pays off during the week. When you have your meals ready, all you have to do is to reheat them. And many meals can be eaten cold.
- You’ll save time shopping. When you cook in larger batches, you can get away with going to get groceries only once or twice a week. Not having to go to the grocery store every night saves you a lot of time that you can use for more fun things, like working out 🙂
- It saves you money. You don’t have to buy your lunch at a restaurant or order a takeout for dinner if you have a fridge full of healthy meals.
- You buy less junk. Again, because you have all that you need ready and available at home, there’s no need to go to a store. You won’t even see those candy bars next to the check out line that otherwise would stare at you and beg you to buy them 🙂
- You learn to cook. Honestly, I wasn’t too good at cooking until I had put on some of the excess weight that I didn’t like. By learning about foods and how to cook, combine, and season them, I became much better cook and also lost the weight that I didn’t like.
- Meal prepping is actually enjoyable. Meal prep doesn’t have to feel like a chore. I actually find it meditative! You can even do it together with your spouse or kids if you’d like to and turn it into a fun family event. I love that it’s me-time, and I’m excited to catch up on my podcasts while preparing my foods.
How To Get Started With Meal Prepping
Okay, so you are ready to commit to meal prepping, because you want to offer your body best nutrition, be aware of what you put into your food, stay away from junk, and save money and time. But how exactly do you go about it?
Here are some tips on how I meal prep:
Getting ready to meal prep:
- I hit up a good and affordable grocery store like Costco or Trader Joe’s once a week and get my staples: Veggies, fruits, meat or fish and if I’m out, quinoa, and rice. These types of stores are budget-friendly and have good choices, but of course, you may have your own favorites.
- Once or sometimes twice a week, I do my meal prep. I make sure I have 1-2 hours on Sunday or Monday to do it.
- I turn on my favorite podcast and sometimes pour myself a glass of wine to keep me company 🙂
My Typical Meal Prep:
- Roast veggies: Sprinkle some chopped carrots, beets, brussels sprouts, broccoli, sweet or regular potatos with some olive oil and salt and pepper, then throw in the oven and roast. Roasted veggies are great in every meal.
- Chop veggies: Cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, leafy greens, bell peppers and others are simple to assemble into a salad or soup when they are already chopped up.
- Make ready-to-go smoothie mixes: Portion out your leafy greens, veggies and fruits that you use in your smoothie and put them into individual zip lock bags. No peeling, washing or chopping in the morning, just pressing the blender button!
- Cook the grains: Rice, quinoa, buckwheat, couscous and others can be used as a side dish or added into a salad for some extra carbs.
- Boil eggs: They are easy to have for breakfast, as a quick snack between the meals or added to any salad.
- Protein: Bake a couple of chicken breasts and some pieces of salmon or cook some ground beef ahead, so you have your protein source ready to go. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, the same can be done with tofu, tempeh, or substitute meat sources. Combine your protein with roasted veggies and grains and you have a healthy meal ready in five minutes.
- Snacks: There is a whole variety of healthy snacks that you can make ahead and enjoy when you need a little pick-me-up or even something to tame your sweet tooth. Many of those healthy sweet treats and snacks can also be frozen, so making a bigger batch makes sense again.
Join Us for the Nutrition Challenge Week 5!
Get ready to meal prep next week! Join 12 Minute Athlete Facebook Group, chime in with your pictures of your tasty foods and recipes, and share your thoughts, comments, struggles and successes.
Let’s do this!
Kersten Kimura is a NASM PT, kettlebell enthusiast and a fan of HIIT workouts. After relocating from chilly Estonia to California, she has taken full advantage of the area and works out outdoors whenever possible. You can find her throwing around her sandbag or swinging kettlebells at local parks, or sprinting along the gorgeous Bay Trail.
Find out more about Kersten here and sign up for her newsletter to get her one week equipment free workout plan and seven simple dinner recipes.