Today, 98% of Americans prefer to cook their meals at home. But the problem is, with our busy lifestyles, it's hard to find enough time every day to prep fresh ingredients to cook.
For this reason, many Americans are turning to meal prepping, which is where you dedicate one night to preparing upcoming meals. That way, they're ready to go every day!
However, if you're just getting started, there are definitely some meal prep mistakes that rookies make. So to avoid wasted time and money, you should learn what they are.
Read on to find out 7 common mistakes so you can up your meal prep strategy!
1. Starting With an Empty Fridge
This one might seem painfully obvious. But you'd be surprised at how many people try to meal prep without stocking up their refrigerator first!
Of course, you shouldn't just buy a bunch of ingredients either, hoping to use them all up while meal prepping. A good idea is to look up recipes first, go shopping for those particular ingredients, and then do your meal prepping.
As a result, you'll be able to prepare your food without hindrance!
2. Not Getting Any Vegetables
We know that eating vegetables can be a pain, especially if you're pretty picky. But the USDA suggests that you get 2.5 cups of vegetables daily. So you need to actively pick recipes that incorporate delicious vegetables or at least make them more palatable.
Unfortunately, while potatoes are a type of vegetable, they won't really count for your daily servings. You need to get plenty of non-starchy and leafy green veggies into your meals.
A great way to do so is to mix them in with your starchy vegetables. That way, not only will your meals be filing, but you'll also be ticking off your veggies list!
3. Not Balancing Your Meals
On that note, you don't need to just be conscious about the vegetables you put into your meals. You should also be keeping track of what healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are in them too. If you have too much and/or too little of any of these things, you won't feel too great nor will you be as healthy as you can be.
Of course, there are exceptions if you're on any type of special diet or if your lifestyle is a bit different from the average person's (for instance, if you're an athlete). But in general, you should check that your plates follow this rule of thumb:
- 50% leafy greens
- 25% carbs
- 25% protein
Many people don't realize that a "serving" is probably smaller than they think. For example, a serving of protein is around the size of your palm, depending on the type of meat you're eating.
4. Portioning Your Meals Wrong
As we've just covered, most people don't know what the size of a serving is. And because of this, when they go to meal prep for the week, they often end up putting too much or too little food into their meals.
This is why it's important to look up recipes beforehand and calculate out exactly how much of each ingredient you need before you go grocery shopping. It might take some extra steps, but this ensures that you both portion out your meals right and reduce food waste.
5. Forgetting About Snacks
An important part of nutrition is snacking, but many meal preppers forget to add these small treats in their homemade meal packages.
However, we're not talking about eating chips and candy! We're talking about things like nuts and seeds, which are high in healthy fats, fiber, protein, and complex carbs. This means they can help keep you fueled throughout the day, all without adding too much to your waistline.
So when you're preparing food for the week, don't forget about healthy snacks. This can prevent you from reaching for a bag of chips while you're in the middle of a busy workday!
6. Food Prepping on One Day of the Week
Because the workweek is so hectic, many people opt to meal prep once a week (usually, Sunday evenings). But this can be very stressful since you might be preparing anywhere between 10 to 21 meals, depending on your food plan. Not to mention, you might encounter some food safety issues, especially if you don't have a big enough freezer to store everything.
Instead, aim to prep food twice or even 3 times a week. This can help you have fresher meals and spread out a bigger task into smaller, more manageable ones.
7. Making the Same Meals Every Week
We get it: the research that goes into finding good meals and making them can be tedious. So once you've nailed it, it's tempting to keep making the same dish over and over again.
While some people can tolerate eating the same food repeatedly, for most, this can get boring pretty quickly. And as a result, it'll be much more difficult to stick to your meal plan. You might find yourself going to the work fridge, seeing your same boring meal, and turning away from it, opting for a burger from McDonald's instead.
To keep things fresh, keep an eye out for delicious recipes. You can also just make small changes to fan favorites, such as switching the protein, spices, and herbs.
Avoid Making These Meal Prep Mistakes
Now you know the common meal prep mistakes people make so you won't do the same.
However, we understand that meal prepping is tiring and time-consuming. Not to mention, it can get boring and you might be stumped as to what to make.
For these reasons, you should look into a meal delivery service like Dinner Dude! We do the prepping for you so you're on a healthy daily meal plan that'll help with things like your weight loss goals.
Forget about doing meal prep on your own. Count on us to handle all the hard work for you!
If you're interested, then check out our extensive menu now. Many of our dishes follow protocol for strict diets too!