5 Easy Steps to Start Lunch Prepping
Are you one of the over 85% of Americans who spend close to $2,750 each year on lunches and coffees? If you’re sick of spending and want to keep your waist slim and wallet fat, you should definitely be lunch prepping!
Whether you’re working on losing weight or maintaining weight loss, it’s essential to be prepared with the types and portions of foods you need to eat to stay on track and keep up healthy eating habits. Preparing your workday lunches ahead of time will not only save you the stress of finding the right food on the fly, but also keep you on track with your goals while saving you time and money.
Not sure how to go about meal-prepping workday friendly lunches? Here’s a quick five-step guide:
Schedule & Plan Your Meal Prep
Do your lunch prepping on your least-crazy day of the week—whether that’s Wednesday afternoon or Sunday morning. Write out a separate grocery list for your lunches to make sure you don’t accidentally buy too little of one ingredient, or so much of another that you end up wasting some. Be ready to spend some time on measuring your portions, and know it will take longer to prep your lunches the first couple of times you do it. Once you get your process down, lunch prep will fly by!
Get the Right Containers
Plastic baggies will only carry you so far with meal prepping. To save frustration and time, you need the right containers. For cold foods, BPA-free reusable plastic containers are perfect. They come in all shapes and sizes, including purpose-specific containers for liquids like salad dressing. If you’re going to heat up your lunch in a microwave or toaster oven, look for glass containers with plastic lids (don’t forget to remove the lid before heating!).
Build from a Base
For the most balanced and filling lunch, start with vegetables, followed by protein, and ending with your carbs (and fat). If you’re following a diet or nutrition plan, be sure to match your protein, fat, and carbohydrate needs by measuring portions.
Put Leftovers to Work
If prepping all of your food once a week isn’t your jam, you can still prep your lunches by making extra dinner or packing leftovers as lunch. For example, if you made tacos or taco salad for dinner, cook extra meat and chop extra lettuce and veggies while you’re cooking. Presto! You now have lunch ready to go—without any extra work.
Make pre-measured portions of snacks to take to work with you all week and save yourself from the siren song of the sweet treats and vending machine in the breakroom. Choose snacks high in protein for the most filling effect. A piece of fruit, half an avocado, serving of nuts, or portion of carrots with hummus will be far kinder to your body than anything coming out of that vending machine.
Remember: Measuring portions is key! We almost always underestimate portions if we guesstimate. Take the time to measure—you’ll thank yourself later.
Word of Caution: When shopping for pre-packaged foods, read labels closely. In addition to checking the calorie count, look at protein, carbs and sugars, and fat content. Many “diet,” “low fat,” or low-calorie foods trade fat content for hidden sugar, so beware! If you have any food sensitivities or dietary restrictions, be especially wary of ingredients in packaged foods.