Updated: Mar 10, 2019
I find it exciting to see meal prepping posts on social media. Regardless what time of year it is, the decision to become healthier is always motivational for me. Plus, I love seeing the food pics! What can I say, I love food! :)
Meal prepping is a huge topic to cover. It involves planning meals and preparing them in advance. Most commonly people use the weekends to prepare large quantities of food for the week ahead. Due to my busy schedule, I would not be able to eat healthy meals if it was not for meal prepping. However, nutrition is very important to me so I make the time to prep.
How does someone get started with meal prepping?
The first step is determining what meals will need to be cooked in advance. For example, I have the time to cook my breakfast in the mornings, but my lunch break is 30 minutes and I do not arrive home until after 8pm on some evenings. So I would need to cover 5 lunches and 5 dinners. I am not opposed to eating the same meal multiple times during the week which reduces the variety of food I have to cook.
Once I determine how many meals, I do a little research to pick my recipes. I tend to cook 2 to 3 dishes at a time because I am not just preparing lunch. I will often pick recipes with similar ingredients to that I don't have to shop for one hundred different items. The steps are pretty easy thereafter: create a shopping list, shop, and prep/cook. Wash and chop all raw vegetables or fruits, toss salads together (separate wet ingredients until your ready to eat to avoid soggy lettuce), cook what needs to be cooked, and portion out food into individual serving dishes for easy grab-and-go action.
My top three reasons everyone should meal prep:
1. Saves money $$$.
Fast food menus keep increasing in price. Especially when you are hungry and everything looks good. Any combo meal at Wendy's is going to cost $10 each time you buy it. When picking recipes that have overlapping ingredients, you can buy in bulk and know exactly what you need when you go to the store to reduce multiple trips during the week. Plus, utilize your freezer space. Many meals can be made and frozen for easy heat up dinners later. By focusing on one or two dishes throughout the week instead of a different meal every day, you cut the cost of ingredients in half by reducing variety. Oh, and long term - your water bill will thank you when you are not washing dishes everyday.
2. Better control of portions.
"Would you like that medium or large?"
"Can I interest you in a chocolate chip cookie today for an additional $1?"
There is multiple factors that add to the amount of food we eat. These common questions asked at the drive thru certainly add to the amount of food we consume without even thinking about it. The key to weight loss and better health is portion control and moderation. My dividing meals into multiple containers allows for smaller portions in one sitting. The proper combination of macro nutrients will be easier to achieve, such as small amounts of starches or grains and larger servings of greens and non-starchy vegetables. Meal prepping is about finding balance.
3. Investment of time into health.
Meal prepping allows you to choose your menu ahead of time without the "what's for dinner" battle. I will be the first to admit to many evenings where the battle wasn't worth the energy and it ended up being take-out in the end. Anyone else recall all the time wasted trying to decide what to eat leaving no time to actually cook? The grocery store is a trip we all make at least once a week. Having the list planned out will save you from multiple unplanned trips. Plus, the list you have planned allows you to choose cleaner food options than what is available at many restaurants, and significantly less sodium. Clean eating and portion control serves more benefits for health such as a reduction in heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and much more. Time invested wisely.
#Mealprepping comes in many shapes and forms. It is an art that is unique to the beholder. Some people prep lunches for work while others portion out all three meals plus snacks. Nevertheless, it can play a critical role in the journey to wellness.