Meal Prep in Type 2 Diabetes
When you live with diabetes you need to be aware of many things that range from taking your medications in a timely manner, frequent blood glucose measurements, the size of your meal portions and learning how to maintain a healthy diet. Without the right routine, remaining consistent with a healthy diet can be difficult and stressful. Learning how to plan your meals in advance can save you time, energy, money and stress. Through meal prep, you can build your foundation in learning how to manage type 2 diabetes.
What is meal prep?
Meal prep is simply preparing your meals in advance. How far in advance depends on you and your schedule. Some like to meal prep on Sundays before the workweek and others like to prepare for the next day.
You can make anything ahead of time—breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Here’s an example of what a menu could look like, but when you create yours, you can add as much or little variability for each day of the week.
|Eggs, wheat toast and turkey sausage
|Peanut butter and carrots
|Grilled chicken Caesar salad
|Chocolate protein shake with almonds
|Garlic herb shrimp and steamed vegetables
|Grilled fruit with whipped cream
Benefits of meal prep
Meal prepping is an excellent way for those of us living with diabetes to:
- Save time. By spending a few hours preparing your meals ahead of time, you’ll save time throughout the rest of the week. When you’re tired after a long day, instead of stressing about having to cook, you can simply heat up what’s in your fridge.
- Make healthier choices. No more last-minute takeout or trips to the drive-thru when you’ve made food that’s healthy and you’ll enjoy.
- Save money. Think about how much you spend dining out. How much food at the grocery store can you buy with that? Instead of dining out, buy your favorite ingredients and work them into your meal plan.
- Keep healthy portions. Whether you’re aiming for better blood glucose management or another health goal, meal prep gives you the opportunity to control your portion sizes and ingredients in your dishes.
- Avoid waste. When you make the food you’ll enjoy, you’re more likely to eat it and less likely to waste food.
How to start meal prepping today
You don’t need to wait for the start of the new week to start meal prep, you can start today using these tips that make it easy to build a meal prep routine that works for you.
- Choose the best day for meal prep. Work with your own schedule. While Sunday is a popular day, if another day works best for you, dedicate that day to meal prep. This is perhaps the most important tip because it will help you stick to your routine.
- Build Your Menu. Plan your menu using your favorite foods or recipes you’re interested in trying. Add the ingredients you need to your grocery list. Using your list of favorite dishes, decide what days and times you’d like to have them. Also, keep it simple and don’t overcomplicate your menu—it’s okay to stick to a few ingredients.
- Consider cooking in bulk. If you don’t like to eat the same meal every day, but like certain types of food, cook them in bulk. For example, if you have shrimp and pasta, you can use those ingredients differently. On one day, you could have shrimp alfredo and the next day, with marina sauce. Type 2 diabetes Chef, Robert Lewis, gave his tips on cooking in bulk for people with diabetes.
- Get the right equipment. Measuring cups, bento boxes, containers and gallon bags help with organization and controlling portion sizes. Buy containers that are easy to carry, can be used safely in the microwave, don’t occupy a big space either in the freezer or in the refrigerator.
- Use an app to monitor nutritional content. A calorie-counting app can calculate the nutritional content and store custom recipes, which are useful in keeping track of your portion sizes. It’s also helpful when making adjustments to your exercise and medication routine. When measuring portion sizes, consider getting a digital food scale.
- Meal prep with friends and family. If you’re in a household with others who are also striving to become healthier, make it a family affair! Cooking with friends and family provides a supportive environment to keep you on track with your goals. If you live alone, offer to exchange meal prep tips and share pictures of your week’s dishes.