Meal prepping really is the only generic ‘one size fits’ all method for portion control that I know of that actually works for the vast majority of members.
If you’ve tried meal prepping before and simply got lost then read on as there are simple ways you can get you food prep game on point with a few simple tweaks.
It’s not just about spending an entire Sunday shopping, cooking and portioning everything out into boxes – there’s more to it than that.
For one thing meal prepping is the one that has worked for my clients for portion control the most.
It takes the guesswork out of how much food to eat because you’ve almost always already cooked or prepared it.
What is meal prepping?
Meal prepping is the simple act of planning preparing food in bulk ahead of schedule.
It could be as simple as making a large pot of vegetable rice and storing in the fridge for a few days to reduce the amount of cooking you have to do by only needing to add meat, fish or additional vegetables for your lunch and/or evening meal.
The four most popular ways to meal prep are
- bulk cooking
- recipe boxes
- recipe cards
- meal delivery
At Fitter Stronger You I teach a ‘home/bulk cooking‘ method of meal prepping using quick and simple recipes because like me, my clients are usually parents who are time-sensitive.
If you are determined to ‘do something’ about your portion control or you simply want to start cooking healthy meals at home for weight loss are also determined to cook at home bulk cooking for portion control is the best way to ensure you eat nutritionally balanced meals for yourself and your family.
The Fitter Method has a nutrition guide with over 100 delicious easy cook recipes (including desserts) that can be made in bulk and cut down the time you spend in the kitchen.
One huge benefit of the Fitter Method way of home cooked meal prepping I’ve noticed is that as clients become adept at the easy cook recipes they want to graduate to more sophisticated recipes from the blog that are also quick and tasty but require more ingredients, skill or time to perfect.
Either way there is a large database of recipes to choose from but I’m also an avid user of and cheerleader of recipe cards.
How to start meal prepping from scratch
Recipe boxes may seem the convenient way to go as they give you not only the recipe but all of the ingredients as well.
Recipe cards ask you to go out and shop for the ingredients yourself which means getting used to shopping for items that are generally nutritionally better for you.
No more ready meals!
My personal favourite recipe cards are from Simply Cook because in each letterbox sized recipe box you’ll get four recipe cards and the herbs/spices for each recipe.
There are vegetarian, vegan and meat options and typically you’ll shop for 4-6 items of fresh food for each Simply Cook recipe and shopping lists are provided to make your trip to the supermarket even easier.
Each meal takes just 20 minutes to cook.
You can get your first recipe box delivered straight to your door for just £1 – click here to claim.
The recipe cards will build your healthy cooking repertoire and once you master one recipe you can by the ingredients separately and make your own version of it in bulk and seasoning it to your own taste.
This really is the best way to walk before you can run as you’ll discover how to flavour your meals as you herb and spice rack collection grows with your new confidence in the kitchen.
The Fitter Method of meal prepping is basically learning a small but tasty set of good home cooked recipes, making them in bulk and portioning them out into containers to eat for the rest of the week storing them in the fridge or freezer.
Bulk cooking really puts the joy back into spending time in the kitchen because it means less time in the kitchen during the week if you’d like to keep your weekends for chilling out.
Why is meal prepping so good at portion control?
It’s precisely because if you know exactly what you are going to eat each day it takes the guesswork out of those times when you’re struggling to find something to eat.
Many of my clients have all tried (as have I) portion control containers (people HAVE had great success with these) or the hand and fist method (ie one palm sized portion of protein with each meal for women etc)
But one effective feature of meal prepping is that it can be especially helpful at those times when you crave chocolate and wine.
Yes you can also ‘meal prep’ chocolate and wine!
For chocolate cravings you can use the no bake energy bites recipe shown above and take a mindful moderate approach to including chocolate into your life in successful way like Fitter Stronger You member Claire:
Be aware that Claire exercises three times a week at moderate to high intensity and has me as her exercise and nutrition coach to keep her on track.
But you can still be kind to yourself by avoiding a deprivation diet with a mindful approach to eating and meal prepping can be a huge part of that.
Simply give yourself an allowance of naughties like chocolate and wine.
It will help you stay on track for much much longer like Claire knowing that you’re not restricted to certain foods.
Being miserable and cranky to the people in your life because you want a flatter belly whilst feeling miserable – is it really worth it?
But it will only work if you are tracking your progress every week to see if you need to scale back on the naughties a bit more.
Tracking your progress is essential to achieving your weight loss goals despite the negativity towards using a set of scales.
Just don’t weigh yourself everyday!
Weekly tracking and weighing is more than enough and women need to review and come to conclusions about the tracking data over several months to allow for hormonal/menstrual weight fluctuations.
So long as you’re tracking what you eat and you’re weighing yourself weekly then you’ll be able to make subtle changes to your nutrition such as food swaps or portion reductions to keep you on track
Ultimately meal prepping with bulk cooking will keep the core components of your nutrition on track (protein and veggies).
The Fitter Method of meal prepping and portion control keeps your well-being and mood on top form whilst staying true to your goals.
Here’s how to meal prep for portion control
My family’s favourite home cooked recipe is vegetarian chilli.
I’ll cook three times the amount the recipe requires in a huge dutch oven on the hob.
Once it cools I portion it out into old plastic takeaway containers and store them in the freezer.
You can also bulk cook either chopped chicken breast spiced with mild Peri Peri and store that in the fridge or a large whole chicken to ensure you’ve got enough protein at each meal.
Using a bowl rather than a plate can also help to keep portions a little lighter when preparing your evening meal.
But meal prepping can get even simpler by storing cans of tuna or making a quick egg scramble if you don’t have cooked protein in the fridge.
So what you end up with a mix and match approach to vegetables and protein that allows you to balance your meals with the right portions and nutrients.
If you know how much you’re putting into each meal prep container then you know how much food you’re eating!
The vast majority of my own cooking skills came from a subscription to Simple Cook and a willingness to fail, try again and improve the flavour and taste next time.
I’ve since stopped the subscription but order new recipes from time to time to change things up and impress the family.
I also prepare make-ahead smoothies using Huel vegetarian and gluten free protein powder.
If cooking in vast quantities seems too much of an ask simply double the ingredients of any of the meals from the blog and take your leftovers in the next day for lunch.
You may even have some left over for dinner as well!
You’ll quickly find that you’re in more control of your portion sizes when you slowly start to eat more of your own cooking.
And let’s not forget the way that eating whole protein makes you ‘feel full’.
Even a vegetarian meal high in protein will help you to feel fuller for longer reducing the need for snacking on the crisps, biscuits and chocolates.
So prepare a whole chicken or quinoa, black bean and adzuki bean salad for the fridge – it will come in handy for when you need to grab and go.
The quinoa, black bean and adzuki bean salad is so refreshing by the way it has become a staple in my house (and fridge).
Similarly when Mrs Fitter Stronger You cooks she will cook in large amounts knowing that I’ll store it in containers for the fridge ready for the following few nights.
So try to share the cooking experience in your household, make it fun and will not seem like you’re ‘dieting’.
Why do you want to control your portions?
It’s important for you to discover why you want to control your portion sizes because portion control can make you miserable if you do not choose the way that fits you, your lifestyle and your goals.
Is it for weight loss?
If so then simply eating clean food in a caloric deficit and resistance training regularly for an extended period of time will almost certainly get you there.
I say ‘simply’ but of course sticking to a caloric deficit is anything but simple.
Meal prepping will help you get there faster by concentrating on preparing foods based around whole proteins and having enough prepped meals in the freezer or fridge to cover you on days when you don’t feel like cooking or are too tired to cook.
Is it to feel better or have flatter stomach?
If so then the same protocols for weight loss apply to getting a flatter stomach: eat clean food in a caloric deficit and resistance regularly for an extended period of time.
As you lose weight your stomach will also start to reduce in size as you torch belly fat with increased activity (exercise) and maintaining a caloric deficit.
Is it to feel better?
If so that is an epic place to start if you want to start taking care of yourself in a much more definitive way.
They way to do it is to commit to learning how to cook meals from scratch as the majority of this post has shown you.
The green smoothie recipe above for example is great for gut health.
Harvard Medical School has identified the link between gut health and anxiety and vice versa.
So simply eating fresh veggies every day can make you feel much better about yourself and give you more energy throughout the day because those greens will take care of your gut.
Is it for defined abs?
For a flatter stomach and defined abs to show through you need to be resistance training regularly making sure you hit your core.
You’ll also need to eat a balanced diet making sure that a source of protein is consumed at every meal and eating at a calorie deficit to remove the body fat covering your abs.
Do you see a pattern here?
The most difficult part of getting defined abs is not the resistance training, its sticking to a calorie deficit and ‘eating clean’ for 90% of the time.
For a long time.
Meal prepping and portion control can help but only when you’ve calculated the actual amount of calories you need to per day to maintain your current weight whilst resistance training.
You’ll then target eating 10-15% less than these ‘maintenance calories’.
For the vast majority of my clients simply feeling better about themselves, getting toned and losing weight are the main goals they want to achieve.
This is a much more realistic transformation goal to go for in the first instance and a first step on the way to defined abs down the line if that’s what you ultimately want to aim for.
Meal prepping will speed up the process of hitting these goals as you’ll be fuelling your body right from the start and in the right way.
Clients on The Fitter Method also enjoy wine and chocolate to make the transformation process enjoyable and something they are far more likely to stick with – an essential ingredient to success.
Goal setting then should come before embarking on a program of meal prepping and portion control if you truly want to get to where you’re going.
But it’s knowing or being coached how to set goals, manage nutrition and set a program of resistance training in a way that becomes embedded that will really get you results.
All these things will determine the right way for you to approach portion control at a much deeper level, something that I individually coach on The Fitter Method.
The best way to begin the process of getting control of you portions is to start learning to cook simple, quick, tasty meals that are based around a source of whole proteins.
You don’t need to have spent three years in Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen to meal prep like a boss.
Often what you require is commitment.
Commitment trumps skill every time because if you commit to learning how to meal prep for portion control you’ll become more confident in what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Don’t waste time trying to make eight different and perfect meals from the beginning.
Instead start with just one meal and build from there.
The recipe boxes are a great place to start if you struggle to cook tasty healthy meals quickly.