Taking the stress out of 21 day fix meal prep...
Hi there Diva friends! I get it....BELIEVE me do I get it. When I decided to hop on board the 21 day fix meal prep train about a year ago, I sat down, looked at the requirements and immediately felt super overwhelmed. I wanted to quit before I got started! I mean, I had a great thing going, I already ate paleo, I was at a healthy weight my workouts were good....
Honestly, if I hadn't had the pressure of the upcoming Beachbody Classic physique competition I probably never would have tried! But I'm glad I did because I've taken bits and pieces of what I learned to use more regularly (aka making tons of veggies over the weekend!), it helped me understand my challengers who go through the 21 day fix program, and it's always good to challenge myself with new things.
All that being said, I'm someone who likes to be efficient, get things done quickly, and enjoy my food. I mean - I LOVE FOOD. So I wanted to share this article on how to make meal prep more enjoyable, so that hopefully you can learn to love it too!
1) Take a Deep Breath
That might sound silly, but like I said - when I started I was super overwhelmed! If you're following a plan like the 21 day fix container system, then take a deep breath and break it down into easy steps. For example, step 1 is to write down at the top of my page how many containers I can have each day. For me that is Plan C which is 1800-1999 calories (by the way I don't encourage anyone to go below that plan!) so it's 5 Green containers, 5 Red (protein), 4 yellow (carb), 3 purple (fruit) 1 orange (seeds) 1 blue (healthy fat) and 5 tsp of oil. Make a tally at the top of your page.
Then I write my meals down like this:
Once I have that outline I can choose my meals and fill in the blanks. I often find it's easier to start with a recipe for dinner and then fill in the gaps afterwards. If pineapple kabobs are for dinner that is 1 red, 1/2 purple and 1/2 green, so I write that down and can fill in the rest of my day accordingly! There are TONS of recipes out there that are "fix approved" and have the container equivalents all figured out for you. But don't be shy about using your favorite recipes and doing your best to guesstimate how it would fit in!
2) Keep it simple but don't get bored
In the beginning you are so overwhelmed that it's easy to just be basic and make one protein, one carb, one veggie all in bulk for the week. I would encourage you not to do that for a few reasons, one being that your body needs more nutritional variety that that would provide, and two if your food doesn't taste good you won't stick with the plan!
*NOTE* Shakeology counts as 1 red, and provides lots of extra nutrients to your day so it's a valuable addition to any meal plan!!!! Plus it taste like a treat, boost your energy, curbs your cravings and provides probiotics (all from whole food, natural sources!)
I would encourage you to make a variety of options for each container and then mix and match within your day! You will end up finding that combinations are really good like sweet potato with chicken and broccoli, or rice with beef and asparagus!
Even within a single container think of fun combos you can make like peppers+onions+mushrooms+spices sautéed in water. That = a green container!
Use lots of spices, seasonings and flavorful ingredients to keep it interesting. Last night my husband and I made a whole chicken, shredded it, added some spices to the bowl so it wouldn't be plain chicken, and then used the chicken carcass to make our favorite homemade bone broth! The bone broth can be used later to cook rice and quinoa more flavorfully, and of COURSE we will drink it too!
3) Be flexible
Anytime you try something new it's really easy to get super dogmatic about it like if you go "off plan" something terrible is going to happen. I'm all about a healthy lifestyle NOT dieting, so PLEASE if you ever meal prep with something as specific as 21 day fix, give yourself some grace! You will go out to eat - make the best choices you can and eyeball it! You will make casseroles for your family that don't allow you to portion everything exactly - do your best and don't stress!!!
21 day fix meal prep and other meal planning structures, are simply here to give you a guideline. It's not a religion, and I promise nothing bad will happen to you if you estimate that cup of blueberries instead of pulling out your purple container!!!! :)
These guidelines are here to get you on track, teach you some basics about nutrition (hello 5 servings of veggies every day!!) and introduce you to tips and tricks that allow you to prep a lot of food over the weekend and save time during the work week!
4) Try it and then live your life
This system is NOT forever. If you've never tried it before I would encourage you to use it for about a month! Then I want you to live your life without portion control and calorie counting and simply listen to your body! As long as you are still eating the nutritionally dense, whole, healthy, real foods, you should be fine! This isn't a diet tool that you go off of and gain 10 pounds. There should be no fear associated with dropping the program....it's simple a step to get you started.
Once you've figured it out an gotten used to how it works, the stress is gone and you can bang out a meal plan in no time! Pull it out every once in awhile as needed to get you back on track, and then let it go. Remember, it's a TOOL. Just one of many that you have in your arsenal!
p.s. Play some music and get your hubby or friend to cook with you! An enjoyable atmosphere can make the process way more fun and doing it with someone makes the time go faster! :)