The Key to a Successful Nutrition Program: Planning & Prepping

The Key to a Successful Nutrition Program: Planning & Prepping

The question started like this, “I really struggle with lunch! I’m never home during this time so its hard to find something healthy. Any suggestions?”

Lunch, just like any other meal, it can be difficult when you are on the go. Could you imagine being a truck driver? They are always on the go.

Though it is easier said than done, there is an easy solution and a method practiced by many. But, it will need to become a habit and you will need to avoid the convenience factor of fast food.


Update: If eating out at a restaurant is your only option when you forget a meal, traveling, or simply want or need to eat with a coworker, friend, client, etc, then NO worries! There are always options, especially at 4am! Some suggestions have been placed at the end of this article.

In addition, it is important to understand that eating healthy is not perfection and that you can be flexible. By having a good understanding of healthy eating, you will be able to do the best you can with what you have around you.

Also, eating healthy is not an endless means of meal planning and preparation. As you better understand healthier meal options, you can quickly throw something together or order when with family or friends.

For my wife and I, meal planning for us consists of making sure we have staple items on our grocery list so that we are successful with our breakfasts, snacks, and lunches. The meal that we plan for most is dinner as we are always looking for new recipes. On occasion we prep for lunches when we know work will be crazy that week. In this case, we will make extra food during dinner for lunch and store for the next day, or we will use Sunday night as our meal prep night for those days. It is a habit we have created and instilled overtime. My breakfasts are typically meals made on the spot unless it is a morning my wife and I are off work in which we then make a plan when we know ahead of time for something yummy. 🙂

Now, then. Let’s get back to the article.


Are you ready for the secret to success? I will share it with you….for free! Are you ready?

The Secret is Meal Planning and Meal Preparing

Because let’s face it: If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail!

It sounds simple. It may even sound too easy. In reality, it becomes very easy once you develop the habit! With any formation of a habit, it will be difficult in the beginning. This is why I recommend to only meal plan [and prepare if need be] the one meal that is most difficult for you. Once you are successful with that one meal, then add another goal.

Difficulty may lie in the time it takes to have food planned and prepared, but your health should be worth it. Especially, when you notice the inches around your waist falling off and your body fat percentage decreasing.

What is meal planning and meal prepping? Well, they are exactly as they sound. Meal planning is when you plan out your day or your week and meal prepping is spending time to create your meals.

Sunday is a common day when individuals take the time to prepare their meals for the week. It doesn’t have to be Sunday though. Pick a day to set aside a few hours so that you may plan your meals, buy the foods, and prepare them for the week.

Sounds like a lot of work though, doesn’t it?

It will take some time, but it will be worthwhile, especially when you think about how much you will save financially and how important your health is to you! Also, all of this does not have to take place at once. You could create a meal plan throughout the week for the following week or day, grocery shop on another day, and then prepare at another time.

Even if you don’t want to do the one day a week idea, you can still make a plan and prepare the morning of with the foods you have at home or even stopping at the grocery store on the way. Either way, think how much easier it will be to have everything already prepared or already ready before you clock-in. By the time lunch rolls around or you need a snack, head to your cooler, lift the lid, and voila.

When you first start meal prepping, start simple. Simplicity is the key to all. You don’t need the fanciest, most elaborate meals, but you do need something to keep you successful in order to reach your goal.

What you’ll need: enough plastic containers for the week and food.

Now, you are probably thinking about food options? Well, the options are endless (even if you are traveling or at work and forget to pack. We will discuss that later in this article). Again, make it simple so that you are successful.

Lunch Ideas for Meal Prepping

Protein: Salmon, chicken, ground cooked (lean beef or turkey), burgers (vegetarian, lean beef or turkey), beans & legumes, hard-boiled eggs, and so forth.

Shoot for .75 to 1 gram of protein per your body weight

Vegetables: To make it quick and easy, I will recommend frozen veggies (i.e., Steamers) or you can go fresh and cook them in the oven to your liking. Examples: Sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, corn, broccoli, asparagus and so forth. Don’t forget to pack your greens: kale, spinach, lettuce, etc.

Whole Grain: Brown rice or quinoa.

For Snacks: carrots, blueberries, strawberries, hard-boiled eggs, broccoli, grapes, cauliflower, cucumbers, and so forth make great options. For veggies, have a small container filled with hummus or ranch dressing for dipping.

Soup: grab a huge pot and make a healthy batch of soup! Be sure to add some protein.

Beverages: Stay hydrated! Consume water that will equal approximately half of your body weight in ounces. When not drinking water, look for drinks that are low-calorie or calorie free, and not high in sugar.

Some visual ideas:

On the road or forget your lunch at home? Don’t let that be an excuse for poor eating. 

Scope out the areas along your trip or even around your work place. When traveling, my wife and I have a few go to restaurants on our list: Jimmy Johns, Subway, Panera, and Chipotle.
If all else fails and a restaurant is not an option, there are gas stations, such as, Flying J, TA, Love’s,  or if you are lucky a Goasis. They are all over the place in order to accommodate truck drivers. Such truck stations have options, such as: hard-boiled eggs, sub sandwiches & wraps, fruit filled containers, fruit baskets, yogurt parfaits, salads, nutritious bars, cans of fish/meat (chicken or tuna for example), turkey / beef jerkey and more. Really focus on those fruits and veggies: carrots, grapes, bananas, broccoli, peppers, and so forth. In addition, you could always run into a grocery store.

There are always options!

Once you become familiar and start looking for options instead of the convenience of seeing those golden arches (i.e., McDonald’s), you will be more comfortable walking into any place and grabbing something healthy and nutritious or passing the stop up because you are packed. If you are at work, packing will save you time from having to leave.
Lastly, remember this additional healthy eating tip when eating out:
  • Portion Control: Stop eating when 80% full. If you are one to overeat to the point of being stuffed and uncomfortable, then ask the waiter to box half of your meal prior to serving. Another tip is to cover your plate with a napkin when you are 80% full.

UPDATE: 

NOTE: THESE ARE ONLY SUGGESTIONS IF THIS IS THE ONLY OPTION REGARDING EATING OUT. OTHERWISE, YOU SHOULD PRACTICE MEAL PLANNING AND PREPARING!

In essence, stick to the basics: Protein source [grilled chicken, sirloin steak, fish, etc], side salad, lots of veggies.

If you are unsure about a particular food at the restaurant, ask questions. You are the one paying for the item!

Breakfast:

  • Panera: Avocado, Egg White, & Spinach Power Sandwich; Turkey Sausage, Egg White & Spinach
  • Beverages: Calorie free like a black coffee instead of high caloric, high sugary, fancy drink.
  • Eggs, avocado, and some fresh fruit
  • “Super” protein shake <—Check out this Precision Nutrition article on creating the perfect protein shake! <—one of my home go-to meals
  • Omelet, side salad w/ extra virgin olive oil, avocado or some mixed nuts
  • Oatmeal with a side of cottage cheese or Greek yogurt
  • Toast with avocado spread and egg <—-one of my at home go-to meals. Check out my Instagram page for examples.

Lunch: 

  • McDonalds: Southwest, Ranch, or Sweet Chili Chicken Wrap
  • Subway: 6″ Turkey, Turkey & Ham, Chicken Breast, or Steak or any of these as a salad.
  • Chipotle: Grab a bowl with cheese or sour cream. <—-I swear by Chipotle. 🙂
  • Others:
    • Grab an open faced burger or veggie burger
    • Soup with protein source
    • Sushi

Dinner:

  • Sirloin steak with no added butter
  • Choose grilled, roasted, steamed, or baked options versus fried.
  • Vegetarian Meals: add protein source like tofu, tempeh, lentils, and be sure to add more vegetables.
  • When ordering a taco, fajita, or burrito, have less rice or fewer tortillas/tacos and have more meat, chicken, or beans, and add more vegetables.

Comment below with your thoughts, meal ideas, tips, and more. Feel free to share with friends and family in order to help them also live a healthier lifestyle. If you have any fitness and nutrition questions, feel free to comment below as well or contact me.

Joshua Reed, Owner of Reed’s Wellness and Fitness Training

Be sure to check out our Facebook page: Reed’s Wellness and Fitness Training

Joshua Reed
Joshua Reed is an Certified Personal Trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and is the owner of Reed’s Wellness and Fitness Training. He currently operates a small space in Ludlow, Kentucky and travels to see clients in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area. He offers both personal, online, and small group coaching from his location, the client’s home, and/or outdoors. He is a 2012 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Adult Fitness and Wellness Management. Joshua currently attends the University of Kentucky’s, where he is earning a Master’s degree in Biomechanics with a concentration in running mechanics and injury prevention.