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Common Meal Prep Mistakes

Overall meal prep is a great way to cook less and eat healthier. You can do it for yourself or for the entire family. Some people that have been making meals this way will tell you that this healthy way can actually keep you away from your goals if done incorrectly. And trust us, mistakes are easy to make. Let's take a look at 5 ways people derail their health goals by preparing homemade meals and how to avoid them:

1. Choosing unhealthy recipes

There is a great difference between meal prepping sour cream covered potato and meat and meal prepping lean chicken breast dishes. If you constantly gravitate towards fatty, calorie laden meals, you are setting yourself for failure not only when it comes to your fitness, but also health crises like diabetes later in life. If you are planning to lose some weight and meal prep regularly, you need to find a way to eat less calories than you did before meal prepping.

To avoid mistakes with calories, you should figure out what your goal intake is and stick to it while meal prepping. You should target about 350-400 calories at breakfast, 550 and 600 at lunch and dinner, and 2-3 snacks of 150 and 170 calories throughout the day. This will put you at about 2000 calories per day.

2. Dividing meals correctly

The last step in meal prep is dividing the food into individual portions and putting them into containers. If you choose to forgo this step at the end, you will have problems with portion control. You might overeat at first and have almost no food left for the end of the week. If you have no food left, you might end up going the route you were going to avoid by meal prepping – fast food or pizza.

The solution is simple – divide the meals right away before even eating the first serving. This way it will last through the week and you will be healthier as a result.

3. Balancing meals

You have to eat well-balanced and healthy diet to stay on top. Some people prepare meals to make sure they have protein, whole grain, and vegetables, but what about including fruit and dairy? These essential diet staples are often forgotten. Most Americans don't get enough nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and potassium anyway, so make sure you include them in your meal prep plan.

Fruit and dairy can be successfully consumed at breakfast or as snacks. Yogurts with fruit or cheese sticks can be great go-to foods when hunger strikes between meals. You can also add whole grains and veggies to your snack routine too.

4. Over-prepping

If you choose to go overboard and prepare every recipe that looks good, you might end up throwing good food away. You don't want to pack your freezer to the point of breaking either. Another problem with over-prepping is that you might end up eating way more than you should just to avoid throwing things away.

Always start slow when you are new at this whole meal prepping thing. Plan a few meals less if you know you have some lunches or dinners out during the upcoming week.

5. Keeping food safety in mind

Products on Cutting Boards

Cooking many meals at the time, you should be extra careful and think about food safety. Don't cross-contaminate food by using the same knife and cutting board for fruit and raw meats. Make sure you don't undercook something just because you have a lot of pots to watch. Multitasking in the kitchen might mean that you forget to wash your hands often enough. Any of those mistakes can cause serious illness.

To minimize the risk, think slowly and follow safety precautions. When making many meals at one time, use at least two cutting boards and two knives. Wash your veggies and fruit good. Use a thermometer to know when your meats are done. Also don't forget to wash your hands and store your prepared meals in the fridge as soon as they cool.