Do you often find yourself feeling like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? If so, there’s a good chance that one of the biggest complaints you may have is sticking with your diet plan. Sticking with a diet involves quite a bit of work – there’s just no two ways around that. You need to plan your meals, grocery shop to get the ingredients to make those meals, cook those dishes, and then finally, eat. It’s quite the process.
If you feel like it’s just too much to handle at this point and hitting the fast food drive-thru is a better option, you need to get a few strategies in place. It really doesn’t have to be this way. You can have an ultra-busy schedule and still stick to a healthy diet plan with a few smart tricks up your sleeve. Let’s go over six meal prep hacks that you need to know about.
1. Pick Up Ready-To-Go Snacks
First things first, when snack time hits, don’t let that grumbling tummy get the best of you. If the first thought that goes through your mind when you hear the growling is what you can find in the vending machine, it’s time for a change. Realize that there are a number of great healthy snacks out there that are just as fast as getting that chocolate bar or bag of chips is.
Try an apple with a slice of cheese or a banana smeared with peanut butter. Or, consider keeping a tub of trail mix in your desk at all times so that you can snack on that when needed. You can even find cans of tuna that have an easy to use pop top that you can dive into for a lean source of protein when you’re stuck without food. All of these are easy to transport and make for the perfect snack options for the busiest of days.
2. Make The Slow-Cooker Your Best Friend
When it comes to actual meal prep, you’ll want to start using your slow cooker as often as possible. Slow cookers are great because you simply add the food into the slow cooker in the morning and by the time you’re home, the meal is ready for you. This is even faster than going to the drive-thru as you don’t have to spend time waiting in line.
With so many different recipes out there for slow cookers, you’ll be bound to find one that you enjoy using. Plus, it’s a very healthy way to cook as you don’t need to add a lot of butter or oil. Use herbs and spices to add flavor to your meals and you can have a tasty, lower calorie meal on your hands in minutes of prep work.
3. Freeze, Freeze, Freeze
Another good habit to get into if you are quite busy throughout the day is focusing on freezing your meals after you cook them. For instance, rather than just grilling up one chicken breast, consider grilling six or eight and then freezing them, wrapped in plastic wrap so that you can use them any time you feel hunger coming on and need a meal in minutes.
Be sure to save all your empty margarine containers and then use those to package up individual sized meals that you can pull out as needed. Label them with the dish and the date before putting them in the freezer and soon you’ll have a freezer full of your own home cooked ‘frozen dinner meals’. Most foods will freeze quite nicely. Try soups, stews, casseroles and regular grilled meats.
4. Consider Pre-Chopped
Another way to save time with your meal prep is to consider purchasing any vegetables you plan to use already chopped. This is especially helpful when it comes to salads. Salads are a great way to get in your 10 a day, but sadly, most people skip over salads because they just don’t have enough time to chop and prepare them. Pick up a bagged salad however and you won’t have to. Simply pour it into your bowl, drizzle with some healthy dressing and you’ll be all set.
Likewise, you can also pick up frozen vegetables as well. Frozen broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans – all of these are fast to prepare and involve no chopping.
5. Always Cook In Bulk
When you do prepare your meals, make sure that you always cook in bulk. Never make a single serving dish. At the very least, make enough for you to get two meals out of it. This simple trick will help slash your cooking time in at least half, it not more. When you plan to make left-overs, you can then take this to work for lunch the next day, preventing the chances that you pick up something unhealthy at the local sandwich shop.
Likewise, when making side dishes for your meal such as rice or potatoes for instance, always make extra. These will last for quite a few days in the fridge and can then be used at each dinner you eat that week.
6. Choose Smart Supplements
Finally, the last thing to remember is there are some supplements out there that can help you stay on your diet when you’re short on time. For instance, investing in a good protein powder is perfect for taking with you on the go when time gets really tight. Likewise, there are some protein bars on the market that are decent options and can fill the void when you have a sweet tooth craving you need to combat. Just be sure to read over the labels of any protein bar you’re considering first as some do contain quite a bit of sugar that needs to be avoided.
If you use these six quick tricks, you’ll find that sticking to a healthy eating plan doesn’t need to be nearly as challenging as you may have made it out to be in the past. Go in with a game plan and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
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