What is Meal Prepping and Why Bother?
In this meal prepping for beginner's guide, you will learn what meal prepping is the benefits you get from meal-prepping, plus some tips to make it easier for you.
Let's begin by defining what meal prepping is and what it isn't.
Meal prepping is setting aside some time to plan and prepare meals and snacks for the coming week.
The intention is to make your life easier, help you eat clean, and ensure portion control. Often the goal is to help you reach your health and weight-loss goals.
What we eat and how we eat it is a hot health topic these days. More folks are realizing that most chronic diseases are because of what and how they eat. People generally want to eat less meat and more fruits and vegetables and plant-based proteins.
Beginning a New Lifestyle
Perhaps you are beginning a new healthy lifestyle and feeling overwhelmed about where to begin.
Most of us have busy hectic daily lives so it can be challenging to cook healthy meals day after day.
Some can't handle the thought of preparing meals for every day of the week, so they rely on take-out food and restaurants.
It may sound easy to set new healthy lifestyle goals, but following through and staying on course can be tricky.
Meal prepping can help you stay on track and reach your goals.
Let’s take a close look at why you should consider meal prepping.
With meal prepping, it's all about what works best for you. Your main goal is to save time and make healthy meals available to eat when you are hungry. Some people like to prepare all three meals, others just want to know healthy food is ready and waiting for them when they get home.
The Benefits of Meal Prepping
1. You Will Save Money
If you plan in advance, it doesn't have to be expensive to eat healthily. There are a few tips that will save you money… Like buying your food in bulk, and taking advantage of your freezer.
When you know how to plan for exactly what you will need, you won't have to run to the market multiple times each week. Meal planning and prepping will save you from wandering the aisles, buying stuff you didn't plan for.
2. Meal-prepping Helps You to Lose Weight
If your intention is to take off some weight, it will be so much easier if you plan your meals in advance. Each week you will know exactly what you are eating and how much. When you have control over what you are eating each day, it makes it a heck of a lot easier to lose weight.
3. Grocery Shopping Becomes Easier
When you plan what foods you'll eat throughout the week, grocery shopping becomes a whole lot easier.
Your shopping list will tell you what you need so you know exactly where to go to get the foods required for your meals, saving you time and energy. (Especially if you are familiar with your market).
4. It Helps You With Portion Control
Using special-sized containers will help you from eating more than your body needs. Practicing portion control will teach you about balance and monitoring yourself.
5. Less Food Will Go To Waste
No one likes to waste food by tossing it out before getting the chance to eat it. Meal prepping will help you to make use of what you buy at the market.
We all know how awful we feel when we toss out food that went bad before we had a chance to eat it. Meal prepping encourages you only buy the ingredients and foods you will use for the next week. It's not likely you'll have a lot of leftovers, especially if you become an expert meal planner.
6. You'll Save Time
Of course, you will need a block of time to plan and prepare your meals for the following week… But just think of all the time you will save during the week!
No more last minute wondering what to cook and then the irritation of not being able to decide or find the right ingredients. This is what leads to unhealthy choices or worse yet, eating out or getting take-out. When you meal plan for the week, you can feel good about coming home to a healthy, home prepared meal.
7. You are Making an Investment in Your Health
Meal prepping is wonderful because you prepare ahead of time what you will be putting into your body. This means you will eat cleaner. You won't be eating processed, sugary, deep-fried, high-preservative, chemical, and hormone-laden foods. You'll notice when you eat clean, nutritious foods, your waste line will get smaller. This will be aside from all the benefits to all your organs and body tissues.
8. You will Strengthen Your Willpower
As you get into the grove of consistently eating clean and healthy, you'll begin to notice you won't crave foods that are not good for you. Ayurveda teaches, when you are healthy, you crave healthy foods. When you are unhealthy you crave unhealthy foods.
Getting into a routine is vital to eating healthy. The longer you stick with it, the easier it becomes to eat well. In fact, junk foods won't even appeal to you anymore.
9. You'll Feel Less Stress
Stress causes digestive and sleep problems. It also affects your immune system. It can be pretty stressful to return home from work know you have a million other things to do but need to prepare a meal. This won't happen with meal prepping! You will say bye-bye to wondering what to eat. You just take out your ready healthy meals and you're all set!
10. You'll Have More Variety
When you plan your meals ahead, it's so easy to select from all the different food groups to make sure you're getting the right nutrition. You make sure you have included protein, fats, vegetables, fruits, and grains. You can be creative in how you mix them.
4 Simple Tips to Get You Meal Prepping
1. Get a Selection of Meal-prep Containers
You'll need to invest in some high-quality containers. Ideally, they would be glass or plastic. But, remember that if you choose plastic, you want to select containers that are BPA-free. BPA stands for bisphenol A, an industrial chemical used to make some resins and plastics 50 years back.
It’s found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins so you don’t want those poisons entering your body. Also, buy containers that are the same size so you can easily stack them.
2. Decide What Recipes You are Going Make for the Following Week
That requires planning. You don’t want to go to the market trying to remember what you need and then just making do when you have to make your meals.
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Meal prepping requires you to know what you are going to cook and when. Write down each meal you are planning to make. Then break it into what ingredients you'll need till the following week when you'll begin prepping again.
My advice is to incorporate variety into your meals. This way you won't be bored eating the same foods every day.
3. Allot Yourself Meal Prepping Time
If you are new at meal prepping, prep for a few days ahead, even a week is great. You can set aside an entire day of prepping for the next week or so. I find that Sunday is a very good day for meal prepping.
4. Do Partial Meal Prepping
Even though you might be meal prepping for the entire week, it doesn’t mean you need to completely prepare every part of a meal.
For example, you could prep your chicken by marinating it, freezing it, and defrosting when you are ready to eat it.
Even though you might still decide to cook your veggies on the actual night of your meals, you will still have saved yourself a lot of prep time just by doing the chicken beforehand.
If you like your veggies fresh, you could just portion them out, wash them, and put them in containers ready for steaming later on. Although, when it comes to preparing carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, or pasta, it's best to cook these beforehand as they can take more time to prepare.
Prepping For 3 Main Meals and Snacks
If you don't have to rush off to work early, you could always poach eggs and toast, fresh. If you want to be even more organized, you can put all your ingredients in a container. This way it will be all ready to pull out each morning ready to use. For instance, if you desire spinach or mushrooms with your egg, you could chop them up ahead of time.
If you are going to prep for the week in advance, it may be efficient to get all the ingredients near each other in the fridge or put them in containers. This way you can just pull them out, unprepared, until the day you plan to eat them.
Tuna and many vegetables are all better fresh. For instance, it's a good idea to prepare cucumbers on the day you want to eat them. It saves time and stress if you know exactly where to find the cucumber because you've prepared your lists and know which container they are in.
Keep in mind that it's not always possible to prepare every single meal. You will learn to adapt meal prepping to your needs and times depending on how busy you are.
When it comes to dinner, and let’s say, chicken, for example, it might be a good idea to cook the chicken ahead of time, reheating it as needed. You could portion out the legumes and veggies that you need, not putting them together until the night you eat them so that nothing goes soggy.
You can portion out berries, nuts, and seeds, and place them in separate containers. You could also have your yogurt in containers so they are ready to easily access during the week.
Celery sticks, a few carrots, or an apple with some hummus in another small container are ideal if you are in a hurry in the morning – if you haven’t got time to chop them up.
Here's six easy meal prep ideas to get you started.
Don’t Forget to Make Your Food Flavorful
Clean eating does not have to be boring. You can experiment with spices, homemade marinades, and dressings. Liven up your vegetables with olive oil dressing and lemon. Incorporate as much variety of vegetables, fruits, proteins, and carbohydrates.
You prepare ingredients too when it comes to meal prepping! This may include peeling carrots, chopping onions, preparing beets, cleaning beans, washing fruits, etc. Just prepping ingredients like this will save you a lot of time.
Do only what feels comfortable. This is about making your life easier and your health requirements. Even a little bit of meal prepping is better than no prepping at all.
You will feel much better about preparing your food for a few days ahead. It will give you the feeling of having more control of your life in terms of your health and time.
Say goodbye to those moments of staring blankly into the cupboard or fridge, wondering what will be for dinner. Say goodbye to take out food and throwing ingredients away that have gone bad before you could use them.
Set a Time for Prepping Your Meals
The best time to do your prepping is when you have the most amount of time. It could be a Saturday, or on a Sunday. Sunday is quite nice because then you prep for the following week. Find out what works best for you.
It might mean cooking meals the night before or cooking all the meals you have prepared for the week in your time allotted. Just figure out how to best organize your schedule, and then make it a habit; that’s important.
In Time, it All Comes Together
It doesn’t matter what your personal health issues are. All goals need planning, dedication, and consistency.
The results will come all in good time, which means you shouldn’t throw in the towel if it looks like things aren’t working out as you planned.
Rather work out what the problem areas are, adapt to them, or fix them, adjusting along the way, to end up with a smooth schedule; that of a pro!
It might need a bit of creativity and some effort, but nothing will beat the satisfying feeling, the reward of opening up your fridge and seeing all your delicious foods, organized and prepared. It guarantees to make your week much easier, but also ensures good health and vitality.
Look at it this way – meal prep = money and time freedom. Take that first step by doing your body and life a huge favor so that you can reap the benefits.