By helping clients develop good meal planning and preparation habits, you can set them on the path to reach and maintain their goals, says Rosemary Marchese.
Meal prep is definitely the ‘in’ thing right now. For clients that you are trying to help with fitness, fat loss and overall health, eating well is a priority – but a challenge. Many people cite lack of time as a reason for eating poorly, and understandably so – we all lead busy lives, and getting creative and healthy in the kitchen can just seem too hard. However, with a bit of planning, it needn’t be so.
Helping your clients to get organised is one of the reasons I wrote The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success. Habits (specifically a lack of good ones) seem to be the obstacle to good health. Getting organised and committing to health is a lifelong thing, not just a 12-week program. If you can help your clients develop good habits when it comes to meal planning and preparation, you’ll be setting them on the path for ongoing success. Share the following tips with them to get them started.
7 tips to develop healthy eating habits
- Sit down once per week and plan your meals – every one of them. It doesn’t have to be complicated. One day could look like this:
Breakfast: Sweet potato and baby spinach frittata
Morning tea: yoghurt and fruit
Lunch: Cheese and salad wraps
Afternoon tea: Hommus with celery and carrots sticks
Dinner: Salmon, fried rice and broccoli.
The thought of doing this may seem daunting at first, but after you’ve done it you’ll actually feel relieved that that you don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner every night. It’s a good idea to keep a list of meals you have, so after a while you’ll have built a ‘database’ of go-to meals to choose from, which can speed up the weekly meal planning process.
- Once you have your meal plan sorted, you need to break it down to work out your grocery list. I suggest then shopping online for the big shop, but if you like to (or have the time to go and browse), then go and get your shopping done for the week. No more time wasted on nightly supermarket detours.
- Top up on fresh fruit and vegetables if needed once only during the week. This is a good time to pick up anything else that you would prefer to have fresh for the week, like some salads, greens and berries. Most other fruit and vegetables will stay crisp and fresh for a week.
- Once per week spend 1 to 2 hours in the kitchen, maybe on a Saturday afternoon, to get a little organised for the week. You may choose to spend more time and do more preparation, but personally I get over it after an hour or two. If I have a busy weekend and less time to prepare then the week ahead consists of even simpler meals. I spend this hour or two making a couple of meals in advance, such as a lasagne or Bolognese sauce that I can freeze. I may also chop some vegies, such as carrot sticks, in advance (they keep well for a little while in water once chopped).
Meal Planner for your clients
Download and print a simple Meal Planner for your clients to use.
- Have a homemade ‘oven meal’ ready for Monday night. I find it’s great to start off the working and school week really organised and with a meal that can go straight into the oven, but which I have prepared in advance and frozen (or refrigerated if made the day before), such as a shepherd’s pie. This way we start off the week with less stress about dinner because the meal can cook in the oven while the kids get homework done.
- Make a double batch of food once or twice per week. So, when I make a Sunday breakfast frittata I will often make an extra one and freeze it in a slice tray. This means I have another breakfast ready for later in the week when I don’t have as much time to prepare something (saving us from resorting to cereal breakfasts).
- Keep easy-to-grab snacks ready to go. Yoghurt, small cheeses and nuts are great go-to snacks to have, especially during those weeks when you haven’t had the opportunity to prepare your meals and snacks as thoroughly as you’d like.
By planning and preparing meals when you have time on your hands, you’ll save yourself hassle when you’re busy and tired, making it easier to stick to your healthy eating intentions.
Rosemary Marchese is a physiotherapist, nutrition coach and fitness industry advisor with 20 years’ experience. She is the author of The Essential Guide to Fitness and The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success. For more lifestyle tips visit rosemarymarchese.com.au or thefitbusymum.com.au