What is the Key to Success When it Comes to What You Eat
You see it all over social media or maybe hear your coworkers talk about it at work: meal prepping. You may be thinking; ‘It all sounds great but how can I fit this into my busy life?’ You may think you just don’t have the time, which is the very reason you need to be doing this! I thought I didn’t have the time and energy, but after recognizing my unwillingness to do a little extra upfront work was costing me, I gave it a try. I’ve realized how easy it is and how much time back in my day/week it gave me. Meal prepping is a game changer, and it’s way too easy and life changing to not be doing it. I’m here to help you realize that you can do this too and there are steps to set yourself up for success!
What Exactly is Meal Prepping?
Meal prep is the practice of preparing dishes, ingredients or whole meals in advance. The idea behind meal prepping is to make your life easier, by cutting down on the amount of time to prepare meals in advance. Chances are you’re already busy, with schedules to keep, places to go and perhaps hungry kids waiting for dinner. Meals must be made and after a long day, sometimes that’s the last thing you want to do. Prepping ingredients or entire meals beforehand saves time, stress, energy and unhealthy fast food or take out choices.
Benefits of Meal Prepping
Meal preparation has benefits that extend outside of the overshadowing benefit of giving you more time back in your day. Let’s take a look at a few.
- Improved health as a result of better food choices.
- Think about the last time you stopped for fast food or ordered take out because you were just too exhausted to make something or there was nothing to make in the fridge. There are numerous health benefits to preparing food at home, including healthier meals and more control over your diet. More control over the ingredients that go into your meals means that you are more likely to stick to a healthy diet, avoiding fast food restaurants and thus the unhealthy choices that are often on the menu.
- You keep more money in your pocket, where it belongs!
- There’s a cost benefit to preparing your food that should be accounted for. It’s cheaper to prepare your own food instead of paying someone to do that for you. On top of that, you save on the extra fees involved if you order out. Save your money and start meal prepping. You’ll be surprised at how much extra you may have at the end of the month.
There are other benefits to meal prepping, including a better relationship with food and gaining new skills through cooking, to name a few. These are lifelong skills that will serve to improve your life for years to come.
Step #1- Plan It Out
The first step in prepping is to create a plan and a schedule. What will you eat this week for breakfast, lunch and dinner this week? How about snacks? What are the ingredients you need? Do you have them or will you need to hit the grocery store? Make a list of required ingredients that must be prepped and a grocery list for ingredients you don’t yet have. You want to have all your ingredients when you need them instead of realizing that you forgot an important item for the dish!
Step #2- Choose your Storage Containers Wisely
An often overlooked but necessary part of food prep is proper food storage. Choosing proper storage containers is the difference between using something that can negatively influence the nutritional profile of your food and your health or not. Plastic containers may contain BPA, a chemical known to cause birth and reproductive defects and even cancer. BPA free plastic may include pthalates, BPS and other estrogenic products, none of which are safe options for you or your food and may be just as harmful as BPA. It’s best to avoid plastics all together.
Clean Storage Options
Safe and cleaner options like glass, ceramic or stainless steel are excellent alternatives, and are often more versatile. Glass and ceramic containers are safe to reheat in the microwave or pop in the oven. Though these storage containers may be a bit pricier up front, it pays for itself in the long run because they last much longer, are more versatile and safer to use for you and the environment.
Step #3- Go Time. Start Prepping!
After you have all the ingredients, now comes the fun part- Prepping it all! There are a number of ways to meal prep and you may find that you like one option or a combination. These are several popular ways to meal prep:
- Ingredient prep: Choose a day of the week to prep, chop, wash, and cook everything. Store in airtight containers for best results. Many people like to do this on Sundays, but you can choose whichever day of the week that works best for you. Ingredients will be ready to use at a moment’s notice. Alittle bit of work? Absolutely. Worth it? Most definitely.
- Prep in small chunks. Maybe after you buy fruits and vegetables you wash, chop, slice and store them. Later or on another day, you prepare the meats, grains or other ingredients, storing them for use over the next couple days or freeze.
- Big batch cooking: When you are making a dish, make extra for the week ahead or freeze for later use.
- Make sure you date anything that goes into the freezer, so you’re not eating year old meals found in the back of your freezer without realizing.
- Single meals: Prep the ingredients for a meal, then store in smaller sized containers to use for lunches or dinners over multiple days. This is how the term meal prep originally kicked off. Stored in airtight individual containers, it’s an easy grab and go instead of an order out kind of day at work.
Many people use a combination of methods, including myself. Find what works for you in your schedule and play around with it. You may even find that one week, you make most meals ahead of time if it’s a particularly busy week and the next week you take a more chill approach and prep in small chunks. The awesome part about food prepping is that it gives you more control of your diet and meals, and more time back in your day. This in turn often means that your stress levels are reduced, and you can use that extra time you now have to do something fun!
The Ultimate Game Changer Lies in the Preparation
In a world full of busy schedules to keep, finding ways to make your life easier is ever more valuable. On top of that, finding ways to make it easier for you to eat healthier, save extra money and give you more time back in your day? Invaluable.
What’s your favorite way to meal prep? I’d love to hear!