Meal prepping can help you reach your health goals by having healthy foods ready to go. The benefits of meal prepping and planning include higher nutritional quality of a diet, higher levels of dietary adherence, increased dietary variety, lower odds of obesity, and increased amount of home-cooked healthy meals.
See Related: Understanding Kilocalories
WHAT IS MEAL PREPPING?
Meal prepping simply means working ahead of time to either get the ingredients for a recipe ready to cook or cooking one to several recipes ahead of time. It's like taking meal planning to the next level by preparing in advance to avoid common excuses: not enough time, lack of variety, etc.
MEAL PREP BENEFITS:
✰ Control over the ingredients.
✰ Save time throughout the week.
✰ Reduce mealtime stress, especially on a busy weekday.
✰ Save money and decrease food waste by ensuring you eat your own food.
✰ Control your portion sizes better to avoid overeating.
✰ Easier grocery shopping with predetermined lists for the grocery store.
✰ A better example for friends and family.
✰ More productivity.
✰ More family time.
MEAL PREP TIPS
Cook what you love. Meal prepping and healthy eating does not mean you can’t eat delicious foods that make you happy. You can make this a sustainable part of your life by prepping the meals and foods that you already love. You can also challenge yourself each week to cook something new!
Prep a batch of whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. The possibilities are endless… add to salads, soup, or as a side dish with dinner. If you cook them in advance with minimal spices and seasonings, they will easily fit into multiple unique recipes for the week. This way you won't be limited to only one choice of flavor for your weekly meal.
Hard-Boiled Eggs! Need to say more? They are the perfect breakfast, snack, or addition to a salad. It's easier to eat healthier with this convenient source of high-quality protein, fats, and micronutrients.
Salad Fixings. Have pre-washed and chopped lettuce on hand for mix and match salad options on your meal plan.
Use a pressure cooker or slow-cooker. A slow cooker can cook your meals overnight or while you’re at work. It’s pretty amazing how handy these appliances can be. There are tones of meal prep recipes online that utilize these cookers.
Spice it up for some variety. Clean eating meal prep doesn’t mean your dishes have to be boring! Don’t underestimate the value of spices. For example: use cinnamon and rosemary to bring out the sweetness of roasted veggies, or use salt and garlic to make them savory. In this way, you can use different spice profiles to mix up the flavor of the same item. Experiment with recipes and turn them into your own meals.
Buy Dishwasher Friendly Containers. They are priceless for easy portion control and will keep your food fresh for longer. The one downside of meal prepping may be the number of dirty dishes, but the dishwasher is sure to help this! The dirty dishes definitely don't outweigh the benefits of meal prep.
Choose Healthy Carbs. Carbohydrates can quickly turn from friend to enemy when aiming for weight loss. They are so easy to overeat for most beginners, so choosing to cook carbs that are lower in calories is one of the best eating habits for meal prepping dieters. Potatoes, squash, fruits, and vegetables will be easier to fit into your calorie goal than rice, pasta, and bread.
Do Your Grocery Shopping Online. With the rising use of technology in our everyday lives, it's best to take advantage of time-saving opportunities where possible. Take your grocery list to your store's website and order for pick-up or delivery. You have no idea how much time this can save you! Not to mention, you won't be tempted to shop for any unhealthy snacks since you won't be walking by them.
Go Heavy On Veggies. You don't have to be a dietitian to know the health benefits of vegetables reach far and wide. Designing a healthy diet is as easy as taking away junk food and replacing it with better food choices. Remove the fast food and pile on the veggies! Most do well in storage when prepared in a large batch.
Invest in Low-Calorie Dressings. Salads are awesome but not if you drench them in calorie-dense dressings. Plenty of health-conscious brands are putting out dressings that are lower in calories than the average ranch dressing, so pick and choose to find new and exciting flavors.
Microwaves Are Awesome. After a long day, the last thing you want to do is fire up the oven and bake your food for an hour. Microwaves are great for reheating your already cooked food. A microwave can make meal preparation simple and turn what could have been a junk food binge into a successful meal.
Freeze Food For The Second Half Of The Week. Cooking in week blocks is probably the most convenient since you only have to dedicate one day to cooking for the entire week. But, a week's worth of food won't keep in the fridge. Freeze the latter half of the meals to keep them safe and fresh.
WHAT FOOD IS GOOD FOR MEAL PREP?
Most real foods and healthy foods can be meal prepped, especially if they are recipes that can be reheated without losing their quality. When these foods are prepared in advance and stored correctly they can be just as convenient as takeout.
There are some foods that aren't great for meal prep, like a fully put-together taco. But, you can prepare the chicken breast and other fillings ahead of time and then place them in a fresh tortilla at the time of eating.
HOW DOES MEAL PREPPED FOOD STAY FRESH?
It’s important to keep prepared foods in tightly sealed containers in the refrigerator. This will help your meal prep stay fresh. The freezer is the better option if you prepare more than a couple of days' worth of meals.
We hope you feel inspired by this post including meal prep ideas.
Meal prepping is the best way to save time, money, food waste, and your diet. It's also a great tool to utilize to improve your overall health and wellness.
By setting aside a few hours one day, you set yourself up for success for the entire week. You can control the ingredients and portions and save yourself a lot of stress.