How to make meal prep a habit
They say it takes three weeks to form a habit and make a lifestyle change, and while that sounds pretty exciting it can be hard to make something stick. It’s especially tricky if you’re finding it hard to adapt your routine around a new activity or you feel negatively towards it.
Even knowing the benefits of something isn’t always enough to make you stick to it! That even goes with meal prepping, which we all know can save time, money and help you stay on track with your health goals.
Lets face it, if you’re not used to something or know how to get stuck in, it can seem daunting to make a change. Take going to the gym or giving veganism a go. There’s loads of information out there and you can start off with the best intentions, but even if you’re informed and enthusiastic, it’s your mindset that will determine whether you stick to your new lifestyle. No number of inspirational Instagram posts can knock a piece of chocolate out of your hands or get you to the gym if you’ve talked yourself out of sticking to dairy-free or exercising!
That being said, there are plenty of ways to support your journey and find motivation, but forming a habit always begins with yourself. You need to know why you want to start this new journey, equip yourself with the tools to do it and make it work around your busy life to ultimately make life that little bit easier.
That’s why we’re here to help you make meal prep a habit.
Know your ‘why’
One of the best ways to help yourself stick at something new is knowing why you’re doing it. So you’ve decided you want to give meal prep a go, but why are you doing it? If you tell yourself it’s because you want to lose weight or save money that isn’t necessarily enough.
It’s too easy to give up on something that is out of your normal routine if your goals aren’t clear and you can convince yourself to not stick to something. You might give meal prep a go for a week and decide it’s all too easy to order a takeaway even if you know it’s costing you money to do so. It might be payday so you can justify the cost, we’ve all been there! But before you know it, you’ve slipped back into buying lunches out and grabbing something quick and easy from the shop for dinner.
Instead, your why should be more tangible and achievable. Perhaps you want to meal prep to save money for your wedding, an incredible trip or for a deposit for your first house. That way, you can set yourself a target amount of money and work towards this goal. It also helps you set yourself a realistic time frame too.
If you want to meal prep to lose or gain weight or stay on track with your fitness goals, again, give yourself a strong reason why you want to lose weight and get fit. Is it because you have an event to train for? Or perhaps you’re tired of feeling sluggish and want to have more energy. You’ll keep meal prepping and working hard until you reach that date or wake up feeling full of energy. You know when your why has been achieved and you can set yourself a new one! This way, meal prep has very real results that will keep you motivated.
Work out what you love to eat
Meal prep definitely doesn’t mean you have to eat the same food over and over again. You also don’t have to force yourself to eat things you don’t like, just because you think you should. While there’s nothing wrong with exploring new foods and introducing a variety of protein, carb and good fat sources to your diet, you should initially focus on incorporating foods and meals you enjoy into your meal prepping.
Before you think about a meal plan, writing up your shopping list and hitting the aisles, sit and think about your favourite ingredients and dishes you love to eat. If they’re not the most nutritional, think of healthy alternatives. For example, if you absolutely love spaghetti bolognese but tend to use jar sauces, mince and white pasta plus a good wedge of garlic bread consider making your own simple sauce (all you need is a jar of chopped tomatoes, some stock, onion, garlic and seasoning!), using wholemeal pasta and swapping mince with lean white meat or a meat-free alternative.
These kind of meals are easy to prep ahead, are packed full of flavour and can be frozen or refrigerated safely for the week ahead. Plus, making up pastas, curries and chilli-type dishes often require similar base ingredients. Win win!
If you love snacks or sweet treats and know you won’t be able to stay away from chocolate, crisps and biscuits, look around for healthy treats you can make at home. Allow yourself a snack in the day and even a healthy dessert in the evening that you can prep ahead or throw together.
We have plenty of inspiration on our Recipes page, which is packed full of gluten free, vegan and nutritious treats!
By allowing yourself to prep food that you love and enjoy, you’re much more likely to stick to meal prep and avoid bingeing. Meal prep also helps you control your portions and track your macros and calories so you can more predictably track what you’re eating.
It’s all about moderation and establishing a healthy, enjoyable relationship with food!
Create an easy routine
Have you ever told yourself that you’ll go to the gym five times a week, drink loads of water every day and eat extremely healthy food… all at once? You’ve probably felt overwhelmed, overworked and a bit deflated after a week or two. Such a big lifestyle overhaul can be frustrating and tiring, and you’ll no doubt give up pretty quickly.
By changing your routine and lifestyle to the extreme in one go, you’re setting yourself up to fail – there’s no getting away from it. Especially if you’re going down the route of reducing your calories and going into exercise overdrive. It isn’t healthy or safe! Slow and steady is the best way to establish a routine that will stand the test of time and help you see long-term, sustainable results. The same goes for meal prep.
If you’ve told yourself you need to prep all three meals and snacks for a whole week from the get go, you might feel pressure to get it right straight away.
So, by introducing changes gradually you’re setting yourself up for success! Work out how meal prep can fit into your routine and build around this to ensure it’s sustainable. You might start prepping your breakfasts and snacks for a couple of weeks, then breakfast and lunch for a couple of weeks, and then prepping all three meals. Soon, meal prep will become a normal part of your life!
Meal prep Sunday is huge in the fitness community, but find what works for you and set aside a bit of time each week to get stuck into your meal prepping. You’ll soon find you’re saving a huge amount of time every day and realise just how convenient it is to have your meals waiting for you in the fridge or freezer!
Always have backups
Meal prep is all about routine, but life isn’t always as predictable as we’d like it to be. Maybe you’re moving house, your oven or microwave has broken or you’re having a really lazy day and you can’t be bothered to get prepping!
No matter what’s stopping you from getting in the kitchen or to the shop for ingredients, it’s important to have a stash of prepped meals in the freezer so you always have some backups that are ready to be thrown in the microwave and eaten. That way, you can ensure you’ll be on track with your eating – even if the rest of your life isn’t playing ball.
It’s all too easy to fall back into grabbing convenience food if you’re having an off day and you don’t have prepped meals ready to go. So knowing that you have some of your favourite food in the freezer that you prepped a few days, weeks or a month ago that you can be eating in minutes, you’ve suddenly reinvented your idea of convenience food! So save yourself the effort, time and money and regularly batch cook some backups of your go-to meals.
Embrace the change!
If there’s one way to make a habit stick, it’s to enjoy and embrace it! If you dread doing something or you find it too difficult, chances are you won’t be doing it for long.
Reminding yourself of your why, allowing yourself to make mistakes and making meal prep work for your lifestyle will not only help you stick to your goals but will also enable you to incorporate meal prepping into your lifestyle for the long term.
That’s why it’s so important to make lifestyle changes manageable, purposeful and work for you! Remember, it only take a few weeks to form a habit and it’s all the better if you genuinely enjoy your new habit and find the positives in it.
Igluu meal prep containers can help you make prep easier. Not only are our single, double and triple containers ideal for creating exciting dishes, but they’re also freezer, fridge and dishwasher safe to make meal prep easy and safe.