by Matt Weik
When it comes to weight loss, meal prepping is a great way to ensure you stay on track with your macros and hit your calories for the day. However, many people are making the same mistakes when going through this process that is causing them to fall off the wagon and never hop back on. Below you will find some common mistakes you’re making with meal prepping.
1. The same foods every day
I’m not the norm here, as I can easily eat the same foods every single day—but most people aren’t weird like me. Therefore, why should you stick to those diets that tell you to eat chicken and brown rice or fish and asparagus for every meal? Sounds kinda boring, doesn’t it?
Not only that, but what if you don’t even like fish or another food option that is recommended? You’re going to lose interest in your plan quite quickly. For that reason, you need to change it up and not eat the same foods all the time. Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, turkey, ham, heck… even tofu if that’s what you like. Just stop eating the same foods for every meal of every day. Include a variety to not only keep your sanity, but to also get a nice mix of vitamins and minerals from your food.
2. Not using condiments
If you are eating clean, that can mean no sauces, gravies, or other unhealthy toppings on your food. But, you’re in luck! There are some great low-calorie condiments that you can use to spice things up a little bit and add more dimension to what would normally be a boring dish.
For instance, you could top your food with Sriracha, Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, Mrs. Dash condiments (any of them), fresh salsa or Pico de Gallo, anything Walden Farms, mustard, stevia, Splenda, soy sauce, Tabasco sauces, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, and just about any spice you can think of out there. Wake up your taste buds and pick up some of the examples listed and enjoy eating food again. Including some of these condiments will allow you to bring life to what would normally be mind-numbing dishes.
3. Restricting yourself
Doesn’t zucchini pasta sound amazing? No? Then why eat it? Because someone said you should in order to lose weight? That’s nonsense. Stop restricting yourself on what you should and shouldn’t eat (within reason). You can incorporate an IIFYM (if it fits your macros) plan into your regimen and have a little more flexibility in the foods you consume. Now, I’m not saying you should go out and eat junk all day long in order to get in your macros, but allow yourself to have fun and enjoy the process. You don’t even need to cut out pizza night with your family—just be more conservative on how much you consume and maybe add some healthy toppings like a vegetable (or put your own on).
If you completely restrict yourself from all “cheat foods” you will end up going insane and wind up binge eating everything in sight. If you’re not planning on hopping up on stage to compete, then enjoy treats every now and then and work them into your meal prep.
4. Only consume Tupperware meals
You know exactly what I’m talking about. We have all seen (or have been one of those people) friends or family members “dieting” and carrying around their Tupperware containers everywhere they go. If you eat out at a restaurant, they bring their Tupperware meal. Everyone in the office is going out to eat to celebrate a huge win at work, and you take your Tupperware. Holidays! Yay! You bring your Tupperware (and not for leftovers).
Do you hear how depressing that is sounding? Why are you doing it to yourself? If you understand nutrition to the point where you can make decisions based on what is a healthy and unhealthy food, then you can eat anywhere you want and find something that fits your individual nutrition plan.
Heck, you can even stick to your nutrition plan if you find yourself in line at your local McDonald’s. Don’t get stuck with nutritional tunnel vision. Expand outside of the Tupperware containers and enjoy the foods you consume. You can eat out and get food prepared exactly how you’d like (within reason). You can have things steamed rather than soaked in butter. Or have your chicken breast made without any BBQ sauce. Don’t be afraid of eating out.
5. Making bulk ingredients
Too many times I see people making Sunday a meal prep day. They make everything they are going to eat for the week on that one day and package it all up in the fridge. By Wednesday you’re so sick of one item you prepared that you say the heck with it and wind up throwing it away because you’re no longer hungry for that particular item. Stop preparing in bulk unless you have a ton of variety.
If you can, prepare only a few meals at a time to prevent yourself from getting bored with your food choices. Listen to yourself, not what others say. Change things up if you have to. Maybe you have chicken for a couple days and then decide you want to change it up for some meat. Awesome. That prevents you from making a week’s worth of chicken and throwing it away due to your appetite changing from one item to another.
Unless you know you can consume a protein source (or even a carbohydrate/fat) every day of the week, then make a variety of different food options that you can put together based on what you’re hungry for.