7 Tips To Make Any Meal Healthier

March 29, 2019

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Benjamin Franklin

One of the main reasons people struggle to maintain success with a nutrition plan is a lack of preparation. Although there are healthy options to be had on the go, it is very tough to tell exactly which options provide what we truly need. Many foods at restaurants, pharmacies, etc., tend to have additives to increase flavors, such as sugar, salt, and other preservatives. The best way to know for sure you are getting what you need is to take matters into your own hands.

Preparation is the key aspect of any solid plan, nutrition-based or not. Going into an endeavor without planning is the first step to feeling overwhelmed and falling off track. In order to make sure this does not happen, the effort needs to be put in before our hectic schedules get the best of us. Meal prepping sounds challenging. Not many people want to waste their hard-earned free time cooking loads of protein. However, there are many benefits to meal prepping that people do not typically acknowledge including:

These are just a few of the many benefits of getting ready for the week. Here are some suggestions on how to meal prep effectively to fit a busy lifestyle! I will also provide examples of meal prepping that goes by specific nutrition requirements (vegan, low carb, etc.)

Meal Prep Guide & Tips

Healthy Meal Prep Tips

Here are a few suggestions to help you meal prep effectively, even with a busy lifestyle:

  • Pick one day to meal prep for the week
  • Prepare a shopping list
  • Buy food that you can store in the freezer in bulk
  • Buy large containers of healthy snacks
  • Purchase various container sizes
  • Stock up on spices
  • Get others involved!

Choose a Day to Prep That You Can Stick To

  • Typically, meal prep will take a few hours
  • Choosing a day during the weekend or a day where you are off from work during the week is a great time to get the shopping done and prep as well
  • Use the time wisely, because this will also save you time preparing lunches, dinners, and snacks throughout the week
  • This is precious time that adds up, even if you don’t notice it immediately

Calendar icon with checkmark, a day to start healthy meal prepping

Make a List Before Going to the Store

  • Having a list before going in will save you time and even money
  • By focusing on the things you need and keeping out the things you don’t, you will navigate the supermarket more efficiently and buy less “craving” food

Checklist icon with a bold priority, a list to make before shopping for healthy meal prepping ideas

Buy Food in Bulk That You Can Keep in the Freezer

  • Certain foods you will have to buy 2-3 times a week, including fruits, vegetables, and other perishable foods
  •  With protein, frozen veggies, and other freezer-friendly items, try to stock up. Being able to take this food right out of the freezer and defrost while at work is a great way to save trips to the grocery store

Buy Large Containers of Healthy Snacks

  • Investing in a large bag of healthy snacks can make eating throughout the day manageable
  • Healthy fats to buy in bulk
    • Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews
    • These foods maintain well, have good fat and fiber, and will keep you full
    • CHECK SERVING SIZE! These foods are calorically dense and need to be measured out
  • Healthy protein snacks in bulk
    • Low sugar beef jerky
    • Wild-caught tuna packets
    • Vegan/whey protein tubs
    • Low sodium cheese sticks
  • Healthy carb snacks
    • Some whole fruits (apples, oranges, pears)
    • Steel-cut oats packets

Buy Container Sizes

  • Buy various containers for lunches, dinners, and snacks
  • Portion out your meals and snacks in their respective containers
  • Label them as “lunch, dinner, snacks” to make them easy to grab
  •  Ziploc bags help quite a bit as well for packing snacks like fresh vegetables, nuts, and fruit

Buy Loads of Spices!

  • Load up on garlic salt, adobo, cumin, paprika, Himalayan sea salt, peppercorn, or whatever flavors you enjoy!
  •  This will help keep your food flavorful and help you avoid monotony

Make It a Family Thing!

  • Family time, or time with a spouse or friends, cannot be overstated
  • Get the whole family involved
  • Not only will it save you time, but it can also get everyone on board with this very necessary, healthy habit!

Healthy Meal Prepping Ideas & Recommendations

General Guidelines: Low Glycemic Meal Prep

Chicken, pecans, and mixed vegetables in glass container for healthy meal prepping

  • 5-7 pounds of lean protein
    • Skinless chicken, lean ground turkey or chicken, whole roasted turkey, fish (salmon, mackerel, cod, tuna, WILD CAUGHT)
    • Ground chicken and turkey can be made into meatballs, burgers, meatloaf, or Mexican style bowls (lettuce, guacamole, fresh pico de gallo, black beans)
  • 1-2 pounds of 3 different fresh vegetables
    • Squash, zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, Brussel sprouts
    • Be sure to cook down the cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage to avoid GI distress
    • Large bags of organic spinach, kale, arugula, cabbage mix, and spring mix
  • Healthy fats (choose 2-3)
    • 4-6 avocados
    • 1 large bottle of olive oil
    • 1 large package of unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.)
    • 1 jar of natural, no sugar added peanut or almond butter
  • Breakfast/miscellaneous
    • 1-2 dozen free-range organic eggs
    • Turkey sausage (all natural)
  • Seasonings and additions
    • Himalayan salt, pepper, paprika, adobo, mint, etc.
    • Garlic
    • 5-6 lemons or limes (great for adding flavor to chicken and vegetables, use rinds as well)
    • Red wine vinegar
    • Stoneground mustard
    •  Hummus and guacamole (good for dipping)

Additional Guidelines for Whole Food Nutrition (Moderate Glycemic)

Meatballs, broccoli, and rice in glass containers for healthy meal prepping

For those consuming energy-dense, moderate to low glycemic diets, the following recommendations can be followed in addition to the general guidelines listed above:

    • Moderate to low glycemic index carbohydrates (1 or 2 to keep variety)
      • ​​​​​​​2-4 pounds of sweet potatoes
      • 1 bag of organic quinoa (1 cup usually makes 2 to 3 servings)
      • 1 large bag organic brown or wild rice
    • 2-4 pounds of fresh fruit
      • ​​​​​​​Apples, oranges/clementine’s, bananas, berries
    • Breakfast/miscellaneous
      • ​​​​​​​1 package of certified organic, certified gluten-free steel-cut oats
      • 1 tub plain Greek yogurt

Additional Guidelines for Keto Style Meal Prep

Salmon, avocados, and nuts are a great example of keto style healthy meal prepping

If following a keto plan, limit your lean protein to 3-4 pounds, compared to the recommended 5-7 pounds for low and moderate glycemic plans. Try to limit to no less than 50 grams of carbs from vegetable sources a day to maintain ketosis.

Additionally, you can choose 3-4 healthy fats, instead of limiting it to 2-3 as the low and moderate glycemic plans do. Organic coconut oil and unsalted ghee/butter can be used as additional sources of healthy fats within the keto-style meal prep.

Low-Glycemic vs Whole Food vs Keto – Which One Should I Choose?

Low-glycemic plans are ideal for individuals trying to lose weight, manage prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, as well as prevent chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease [1].

Whole foods (moderate glycemic) plans follow most of the same guidelines as a low-glycemic plan but allow for a little more flexibility of additional carbs such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, and organic brown or wild rice. It eliminates the risk of processed foods and helps you feel full longer.

Keto meal plans are often used for individuals trying to bulk up. It has been found to be effective in weight loss since it forces the body to use fat instead of carbs are a source of energy. There is evidence that a low-carb keto diet can reduce body mass without the negative impact on strength and power [2].

The above guidelines are based on general recommendations of popular meal plans. For custom, individualized meal plans contact your nearest Cenegenics location to discover how Cenegenics can help you live well, longer.

Choosing The Right Meal Plan For You – In Conclusion

Choosing the right nutritional plan is truly dependent upon your individual goals, medical history, and current lifestyle. Cenegenics is focused on treating the individual and helping to optimize overall health and wellness.

Our physician and clinical team will perform a comprehensive health evaluation, including analyzing key biomarkers to determine if any deficiencies exist. Customized nutrition plans are then formed to help ensure your body receives the nutrients it needs to function optimally, both now and in the long term.

If you are interested in learning about nutrition and meal prepping beyond the basics, contact your nearest location today.

Next Steps to Receive Individualized Nutritional Plan

Our world-class physicians create a personalized plan to help you feel 10+ years younger. You’ll be more energetic, lose weight, sleep better, have more libido, and think more clearly. Click below to schedule a free consultation with one of our physicians. It’s quick + easy.

Key Resources

This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources:

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine V1 for nutrition, mastering healthy aging, exercise and hormone replacement therapy

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine V2 for nutrition, mastering healthy aging, exercise and hormone replacement therapy

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 2: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

Textbook Authors:

Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT

Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.


Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS

Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.

Additional Resources

What are the Best Sources of Micronutrients for Weight Loss & Optimal Health?

The Role of Vitamins and Minerals as Micronutrients

Understanding Your Diet: What are Micronutrients?

Achieving Healthy Weight Loss: The Problem with Fad Diets

Building a Nutritional Plan: Food for Weight Loss

Psychology of Weight Loss: How to Lose Weight & Make Your Results Last

Why Am I Gaining Weight: Psychology of Weight Loss

Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs) and Food Preparation Tips for Reducing Inflammation in Your Diet

What Are Processed Foods & Why Are They Dangerous?

Defy Your Age™ with Cenegenics


[1] Augustin, L. S., Kendall, C. W., Jenkins, D. J., Willett, W. C., Astrup, A., Barclay, A. W., . . . Poli, A. (2015, September). Glycemic index, glycemic load and glycemic response: An International Scientific Consensus Summit from the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26160327

[2] Greene, D. A., Varley, B. J., Hartwig, T. B., Chapman, P., & Rigney, M. (2018, December). A Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet Reduces Body Mass Without Compromising Performance in Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting Athletes. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30335720

* Disclaimer: These are general recommendations based on popular nutrition plans. If you are interested in plans specific to your goals, please contact Cenegenics to learn more about our individualized programs.

Contributor: Joshua D'Alessandro - MS, CSCS, CISSN Health Coach at Cenegenics New York City

My name is Joshua D'Alessandro and I am an Exercise and Nutrition Counselor for Cenegenics in NY. My passion for fitness began at a very young age and has manifested into a career filled with possibilities. The countries largest epidemic, and quite possibly the root cause of most issues, is diminishing health. In my career, I hope to do everything and anything I can to improve the well being and lives of the people around me!

powered by Birdeye