This article is written by Mobiefit’s nutrition expert, Shwetha Bhatia. She is also the founder of Gym & Tonic, where she can easily customize workouts according to the needs and requirements of her clients.

The bane of the working class is that despite having all the luxuries in the world, we seldom have any time. The perils of sitting at your desk for long durations aren’t good. In fact, research has shown that remaining stationary for extended periods of time (in this case your 9-5 job) can actually be detrimental to your health. There may be few who want to focus on their fitness but hectic schedules and perpetual excuses prove to be an irreconcilable hindrance. Yes, we have all been there and have had to make some excuse or the other to skip the workout or cheat on our diet.

The good news is there’s a way around it if you are willing to bring in a bit of discipline in your day-to-day life. And it won’t even involve too much of a lifestyle change since we know it can impact your work and personal life. The easiest way to stop yourself from curbing your hunger pangs by binging on randomly available fast food is to plan your meals. Meal prepping is the most effective and pocket-friendly way to tackle calories and save up. It gives you total control over what your food consumption and nutrition.  Here are a few simple tips from Mobiefit’s nutrition expert, Shwetha Bhatia that will help you plan your meals like a fitness pro:

1. Get your diet plan aligned with your fitness goals. It will help you to prep yourself better depending on the number of macros you need to consume. Any good diet should include three things: carbohydrates ( to fuel yourself), protein (to repair your muscles), and fat (to keep you satiated).

2. The menu: Ask your dietician to give you enough choices to prepare a cyclical menu for the entire week. You need to tell them if you are going to stick to 3-4 easy options or are flexible to prepare a 7-day lavish menu.

Frozen veggies and fruits are an easy way to add much needed fiber to your diet when you are running low on time

3. Recipes: Don’t try all new recipes in the first week. Always stick to tried and tested ones 70% of the times and experiment with the remaining 30%. Those can then become part of your tried recipes in the following week.

4. Print your plan and stick it on the fridge.

5. Once you have the plan, make a list of the ingredients you will need to purchase. This is best done on a Sunday or on your day off. Your list should have all the items in the required amounts for the whole week until your next grocery shopping trip. Don’t go shopping hungry because you will end up with groceries that you don’t really need. Also, since you are out purchasing make a list of storage containers and zip lock bags. If you choose plastic containers, make sure they are BPA-free and that they won’t melt in the microwave.

6. Once you have the stuff,  that’s when the actual prepping begins. Portion out meats and marinate them. Store them in the containers to be frozen. With this, you will only need to thaw the portion sizes you need at any given time. This way you can save a lot of time and also prevent it from going bad.

Stock up on cereal, nuts and cheese so you never run out on a good snack

7. Vegetables can be cleaned and stored in pouches. Wash and cut just before use. If you purchase pre-cut vegetables make sure you use them in the first sequence when the week starts.

8. When prepping for the week, the maximum that recommended prepare 5 days worth of food in advance. Keep up to 3 days worth of meals in the refrigerator and freeze the rest of the meals.

9. The temperatures of your refrigerator and freezer, as well as the types of containers you use, are vital in preserving the freshness of your meals.

10. Your refrigerator temperature should be 4 degrees centigrade and your freezer should be at least -18 degrees centigrade.

11. If you are preparing several hot meals, you should allow the meals to cool down (nearly to room temperature) and then store them in the refrigerator or freezer within 1-2 hours of preparing.

Soups can be prepared in advance. Veggies, meat or fish can be added to raise the volume

12. Soups should be prepared in advance if possible. Eggs can be boiled and stored similarly. If you must use packet soups, use only 1/4 sachet as the base and add vegetables like mushroom, spinach, spring onions that cook easily to make up the volume.

13. With regards to supplements, ensure you have enough to last you for a month. This includes your vitamins and pre/post workout supplements.

14. Cheese and nuts must be stocked a little more than the required amounts.

15. Use a pressure cooker/microwave to cook wherever possible as its quick and easy.

16. It may not be possible to prepare fresh marinades every time. Invest in a few sauces and salad dressings. The basic marinade of oil, salt, pepper, garlic and a sauce more or less works for all main dishes.

All of this meal prep is for a purpose…to help you reach your health and fitness goals. When clean eating is as simple as reaching into the fridge for your lunch or dinner, you’ll be less tempted to stop for fast food or order takeout.

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