If you're actively trying to shed a few kilos ahead of summer, it's no secret that the way you prepare your meals has an important part to play in your success. Here's a look at five easy meal prep tricks that can help you realise a slimmer, shapelier you.
1. Get a game plan
Planning is one of the keys to weight loss success and putting together a meal plan should be the first item on your agenda. While there's nothing wrong with a simple Monday–Sunday plan, creating one that covers 2–3 weeks, instead of just one, will help prevent boredom from kicking in too early in your journey.
Start the process by searching for nutritious recipes online and opt for those that are simple and don't require hours of prep or include too many unusual ingredients. Also try to keep your menu seasonal – soups, stews and curries are all wonderfully warming in winter – and change it up every few months to ensure variety. If you need some meal inspiration, think about assigning a theme to each night of the week – fish, chicken, soup, vegetarian – and plan your meals accordingly.
2. Shop smart
Hitting the supermarket aisle without a shopping list is one of the quickest ways to derail your weight loss programme. Why? Because without a list to stick to, there's every chance you'll head home with some of the foods you're supposed to be avoiding.
By working through your recipes and putting together a comprehensive list of ingredients for the week's meals, you're more likely to leave with what you came for, and you won't have forgotten anything, eliminating the need to head back to the shops and face temptation all over again.
3. Cook in advance
If cooking isn't your thing, the thought of preparing a week's worth of meals every Sunday could send you running for the nearest takeaway spot.
But here's another way to think about it: you won't have to cook for six whole days! Plus, you'll have way more time to yourself every day. Time to take an extra yoga or Pilates class at Elixr, catch up with a friend over a flat white, or browse your favourite retailer for your post-diet swimsuit. What a win!
4. Plan your snacks
Need a good reason to plan your mid-morning and afternoon snacks along with your meals? How about this: if you don't, you could find yourself at the vending machine wavering between a bag of nuts and your favourite choccie. No prizes for guessing which one you're more likely to opt for in the end.
By keeping a bowl of fruit on your desk or a few packets of trail mix in your bag or desk drawer, you could save yourself from making the wrong choice next time you need a 3pm pick-me-up.
5. Lean on your support system
According to Rodalewellness.com, "In a university study cited in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, those who recruited three friends or family members to assist them in their quest to lose weight had better weight loss results than those who had no buddy system to fall back on."
Not all that surprising when you consider that aside from providing moral support, a weight loss buddy can help keep you accountable by checking in with you at the beginning and end of each day, join you for a Pilates or yoga class when all you want to do is put your feet up, keep you company during your weekly meal prep, and send delicious new recipes your way.