10 Hacks to Successful Meal Prep!

Successful meal prep happens when you look forward to eating the meals you create!

1. Pick your day to meal prep! Make meal plan manageable by planning out the 1 or 2 days a week to prep food for the week. I prefer Sunday afternoons and if I need an additional day, Wednesday nights.

 

2. Invest in tightly sealing food storage containers that are the RIGHT size for YOU. It will give you a perfect solution to portion sizes and ensure your food won't spill all over the place!

 

3. Scout pinterest or your favorite cookbooks and find 1-2 healthy meals to make for the week! Click the image below to get access to my favorite healthy recipes, and feel free to follow my Pinterest board! The more the basic the recipe, the longer it will last in your fridge, so aim for whole foods and staple items. Aim for making meals that have 1/4 plate lean protein, 1/4 plate starchy veggie, 1/2 plate fibrous veggie!

 

4. Stick to your grocery list. Go to the grocery store with a plan or a list, and get those things only! I like to write down all that I need and go to the store with a purpose. The only time I like to buy outside of my list is when things are on sale in the fruit/produce area! It also great to cook with veggies that are in season.

 

5. Chop/cook/spiralize veggies in advance! This is a LIFESAVER! On Sundays, I chop up my lettuce, my squash and zucchini, and cook my frozen vegetables, that way I don't have to take out my cutting board every night and waste time washing, chopping, and slicing veggies. I put them into clear separate bulk containers so I can see what is in them … and then my fridge turns into a mini-Chipotle! It's a huge timesaver especially on weeknights when all you want to do is put a bowl of food in the microwave and eat it! 

 

6. Cook a huge batch of quinoa or rice ahead of time. Leave it in a clear container so you know what's inside and take a necessary portion out for dinner! Top with tons of veggies and a portion of lean protein for a homemade burrito bowl, without the Chipotle prices! I eat this almost every weeknight and can switch up my toppings as I please so I never get bored.

 

7. Cook your protein ahead of time in a crockpot or if you only have 20 minutes, boil your chicken and make healthy chicken salad! Take advantage of cooking methods that allow foods to excrete natural juices that you can use to season everything else in your meal without the extra calories.

 

8. Bag up smoothie ingredients. Ensure you don't add too many unnecessary calories to your smoothies by make pre-packaged smoothie bags and throwing them in the freezer. This is a super easy on-the-go way to get a smoothie without paying an outrageous amount for it!

 

9. Use mason jars for salads (or any meals for that matter)! Not only are they pretty, but they are practical, microwave safe, transportable, and air-tight.  The vertical shape makes them great for salads because the dressing is at the bottom and the greens are at the top ensuring you won't have a soggy salad by the time you get to each lunch!

 

10. Keep your eyes on your goals! Every time you are tempted to eat outside of your meal prepping, think about the health, fitness, and financial goals you have. Meal prepping will save time, quicken your results, and the more you do it, the faster you will get at it. I have narrowed my meal prep down to 90 minutes, 1 time a week!! I encourage you to start now and you'll be on your way to success not only in the kitchen, but you will see results in the gym much faster if your diet adheres to and supports your training!

Drop hundreds of calories from your FAVORITE meals!

There are so many ways to turn your favorite savory or sweet dishes healthy. Save yourself thousands of calories by swapping out traditional ingredients for healthier ones. Below is a list of alternatives for everything high calorie, from salad dressings, maple syrup, pasta sauces, butter, oil, and especially things laden with tons of hidden calories. The amount of sugar and fat in the American diet has increased tremendously, as have the rates of Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. Currently, 66% of the population is overweight and 34% of the population is obese. Those numbers are not only scary but continue to rise steadily. A way to address overeating is to remove the excess sugar and fat from your diet through healthy substitutions! See my recommendations below for ways to keep your favorite dishes in your diet, while eliminating all of the unwanted and unnecessary calories. Food should be fun, and calories shouldn't limit you to not enjoying your favorite foods. Hope you enjoy my suggestions and happy eating!!
 

Avocado instead of Mayo Butter or Oil

1 cup Avocado: 234 calories
1 cup Mayo: 1,495 calories
1 cup Butter: 1,627 calories
1 cup Oil: 1,910 calories

I almost never bake with mayo, butter or oil strictly because of the numbers listed above! Save yourself literally thousands of calories and enjoy the numerous benefits of avocados. They are packed with healthy fats, loaded with fiber, and will leave you with a softer and chewier texture if you use it to bake. Always use a 1:1 substitution (1 cup of avocado instead of 1 cup of butter or oil). Another tip for baking with avocado: reduce oven temp by 25% and increase your baking time by a few minutes in order to prevent your baked goods from browning too quickly or caving in!

 

Applesauce instead of Sugar

1 cup of unsweetened applesauce: 103 calories, 23g of sugar
1 cup of sugar: 773 calories, 200g of sugar

YUP! There's THAT many calories in sugar. Next time you're baking, opt for unsweetened applesauce, which will save you hundreds of calories and you won't be able to tell the difference. You can substitute the applesauce for sugar in a 1:1 ratio in recipes, but you must reduce the liquid in the recipe. Usually reducing the liquid (water, milk, etc.) by 1/4 will be fine.

 

Soda Water/Seltzer instead of Tonic Water

Soda Water/Seltzer: 0 calories, 0g sugar
Tonic Water: 80 calories, 20g sugar

Save yourself the sugar calories and order seltzer or soda water with your mixed drink at the bar. Top it off with a lime or lemon for the extra punch!

 

Almond or Cashew Milk instead of Dairy Milk

1 cup of almond/cashew milk: 30 calories
1 cup of dairy milk: 100 calories

Unsweetened almond and cashew milk is a great alternative to cow's milk in recipes. It will save you 70 calories per serving, and when used in baking or cooking, you won't be able to know the difference.

 

Spaghetti Squash or Zucchini instead of Pasta

1 cup of Spaghetti Squash: 31 calories
1 cup of Zucchini: 33 calories
1 cup of Pasta: 130 calories

Save yourself hundreds of calories by making this substitute! Use a veggie spiralizer or a mandoline to make long, thin noodle-like slices of zucchini. Or, stab holes in a spaghetti squash and put in the microwave for 8-10 minutes, depending on the size. These veggies are super low in carbs allowing you to eat more and not feel guilty, and also contain much more fiber leaving you more full!

 

Frozen Bananas instead of Ice Cream

1 Frozen Banana: 105 calories, 0g fat
1/2 cup of Dairy Ice Cream: approx 275 calories, 14g fat

Mix 1 frozen banana with a 1/2 cup of almond milk in a blender or food processor until creamy.. this will leave you with an incredible concoction commonly referred to as nice cream! This alternative is fat-free, contains 3g of fiber and will leave you feeling satisfied and guilt-free. You can add cacao powder or other berries to the mix in order to achieve the flavor you're craving.

 

Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream

1 Serving of Greek Yogurt: 60 calories
1 Serving of Sour Cream: 193 calories

Use greek yogurt instead of sour cream in your recipes and you'll save yourself a TON of unnecessary calories. You won't be able to tell the difference and the texture is very similar.

 

Mustard or Walden Farms Mayo instead of Mayo

1 packet of Mustard: 5 calories
1 serving Walden Farms Mayo: 0 calories
1 packet of Mayo: 70 calories

Mayo is mostly all fat and adds a good amount of calories to any sandwich! Sub out mayo for mustard and save yourself the artery clogging saturated fat. If you are craving mayo, opt for Walden Farms' mayo, they have plain, chipotle, honey mustard, ranch and pomegranate mayo!

 

Lettuce Wraps instead of Taco Shell or Hamburger Buns

Lettuce Wrap: 5 calories
Taco Shell: 70-180 calories
Hamburger Bun (which is most likely toasted with butter): 200-250 calories

Use lettuce to wrap your tacos or go bunless on your burger or chicken sandwich and enjoy the side of fries. Life's about balance after all! Lettuce is almost calorie-free.. so why not wrap your bun in lettuce which still gives it the crunch, but saves you between 200-250 calories!

 

Ground Turkey vs Ground Beef

4 oz (99/1) extra lean ground turkey: 120 calories, 1g fat
4 oz (93/7) lean ground turkey: 170 calories, 8g fat
4 oz (80/20) ground beef: 290 calories, 23g of fat

Always opt for ground turkey when possible, which spares you loads of unnecessary fat. I love to season mine with McCormick's Perfect Pinch southwest seasoning. If you don't want to splurge and spend the extra few dollars to buy extra lean 99/1, definitely go for the 93/7 ground turkey, and you and your arteries will be glad you did. 

 

Walden Farms No Calorie Syrup vs. Maple Syrup

1/2 cup Walden Farms Syrup: 0 calories, 0g sugar
1/2 cup Maple Syrup: 410 calories, 112g sugar

This is a no brainer. Traditional maple syrup contains SO MUCH SUGAR. Either dress your pancakes or waffles up with fresh berries, or buy Walden Farms syrups.. they have pancake (my fav!), maple walnut (my #2!), chocolate, strawberry, blueberry, and caramel syrups!

 

Coconut Flour vs. White/Wheat Flour

Coconut Flour: 120 calories, 10g fiber (keeps you full!)
Wheat Flour: 105 calories, 4g fiber
White Flour: 115 calories, 1g fiber

Coconut flour is gluten-free, rich in fiber and very little is needed in recipes compared to normal grain based flours, which means less calories. When using coconut flour instead of white or whole wheat flour, the general ratio is to use 1/4-1/3 cup of coconut flour for every 1 cup of white/wheat flour.  Coconut flour also contains much more fiber, which will keep you full and prevent you from eating too much! I'd suggest checking out this article to get even more information on coconut flour substitutions: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/10/26/cooking-with-coconut-flour.aspx

 

Canned Diced Tomatoes or Walden Farms instead of Tomato Sauce:

Canned Diced Tomatoes: 35 calories
Walden Farms Sauce: 0 calories
Traditional Tomato Sauce: 80-180 calories

Opt for a lighter and less fattening sauce by using canned diced tomatoes, or better yet, Walden's 0 calorie sauces. They have alfredo, tomato and basil, and garlic and herb.. YUM!

 

Salsa or Walden Farms No Calorie Dressing instead of Salad Dressing

2 tbsp Salsa: 10 calories
2 tbsp Walden Farms Dressing: 0 calories
2 tbsp Salad Dressing: 80-160 calories

This is another no brainer.. salad dressings are laced with tons of sugars and fats and we often underestimate how much we really use. Leave out the excess calories and opt for fresh salsa or Walden Farms' dressing! I love dressing up my salads with pico de gallo, salsa and a pinch of lime with a dash of balsamic vinegar.  Another option is Walden Farms, which is a great company that makes a variety of different dressings that are super tasty, contain no fat or sugar, and are a whopping 0 calories!!

 

Hot Sauce or 0 Calorie Ketchup instead of Regular Ketchup

2 tbsp hot sauce: 0 calories
2 tbsp Walden Farms ketchup: 0 calories
2 tbsp reduced sugar ketchup: 5 calories, 1g sugar
2 tbsp ketchup: 40 calories, 7g sugar

Ketchup is surprisingly loaded with sugar and let's be real.. no one only uses 2 tablespoons. Back in my soccer days when I would come home and eat half the bag of frozen tater tots, I probably used close to 1/2 cup of ketchup (135 calories and 26g of sugar.. ew!!). Opt for hot sauce, Walden Farms 0-calorie ketchup, or if you don't want to give up ketchup, go for the reduced sugar option.