Many of us aspire to live a healthy lifestyle, to feel fit and energized. But let’s face it, life can be busy! While setting goals to eat healthy may be easy, following through with those goals and staying consistent can be tricky.
When you’re busy navigating through your daily life, the thought of cooking all of your own meals at home can sometimes feel impossible. Not to mention warding off temptations at restaurants. And let’s face it- time is the number one “make or break” factor when it comes to deciding on a meal.
If you’re tired of ordering junk food out of impulse, spending too much money at restaurants, and not reaching your fitness goals, get ready to meet your new best friend: meal prep!
Short for meal preparation, ‘meal prep’ is the act of planning, preparing, and packaging your meals and snacks in advance, typically for the upcoming week, with the intention of clean eating and portion control. It is the key that helps many people reach their health and fitness goals. Keep in mind there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do meal prep, as it’s all about what works for you personally. The ultimate goal is to save time in the kitchen and to have access to healthy meals during the week. Some people find they like to prepare their breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week, while others will only prep one meal for each day. Set aside some time for initial planning and cooking, and you will be amazed at the many benefits meal prep has to offer.
1. You will save money
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive if you plan in advance! Buy things in bulk, and don’t forget to take advantage of your freezer. By planning your meals in advance, you will know exactly what you need to buy, instead of going to the store a few times each week to pick up last minute ingredients. You will also be freed from buying pricey meals at lunchtime.
2. It will help you lose weight
Planning your meals in advance is key to weight loss as you know exactly what you are putting into your body, and how much. A weekly meal prep routine allows you to control how many calories you are inputting everyday, which is the perfect recipe for weight loss.
3. Grocery shopping will become easier
Once you know what meals you will be eating for the week, grocery shopping will feel like a breeze! Let wandering aimlessly around the aisles be a thing of the past. Show up prepared with a list and divide it into categories such as fruits, vegetables, protein, frozen food, dairy, grains, and fats. It will also help you avoid the aisles you don’t need to be in, such as the candy aisle!
4. You will learn the art of portion control
The beauty of meal prep is that it teaches you balance. Packing your meals in containers refrains you from being able to reach for more. If you want to lose weight and consume the right amount of nutrients, portion control is vital. You can still treat yourself from time to time, but monitoring how much you eat is an important factor.
5. You won’t waste food
Have you ever had to throw away produce that went bad before you had a chance to eat it? It’s not a good feeling. When you meal prep, you utilize all of your ingredients for the week, and it is very unlikely that you will have any left over if you plan correctly!
6. You will save time
Although you do need to invest some time upfront to plan out your meals properly and to cook them, you will still end up saving time overall. Think about how much time we waste standing in front of the refrigerator, trying to figure out what to cook. Once your meals are prepared ahead of time, all you need to do is take them out of the fridge and heat them up!
7. It is an investment in your health
The best part about meal prep is that you get to choose ahead of time what you will be eating! People who do this are able to eat cleaner than those who don’t, with ease! You won’t be scrambling to find something to eat, and risk being exposed to unhealthy options, because your meal is already prepared, and it’s healthy! The benefits of eating a clean diet are endless. Good nutrition won’t contribute to just a smaller waistline, but it will also contribute to heart health and other factors!
8. You will gain more willpower
As you get into the swing of consistently eating healthy, you will gradually stop craving sugar and other fattening foods. Keeping a routine in place is key to healthy eating, and you will find it becomes easier to turn down the foods you know you shouldn’t be eating!
9. It will reduce stress
Stress can affect your immune system, cause digestive issues, and disrupt your sleeping patterns. Coming home from work and trying to come up with a plan for dinner can be stressful. Not with meal prep! You can say goodbye to the “what’s for dinner” stress and relax knowing that your meal just needs to be heated up!
10. It will bring variety to your meals
If you are able to put thought into your meals ahead of time, it will become easy to choose from several different food categories (protein, fat, grains, vegetables, etc) in order to get the variety you need to fuel your body. Feel free to mix it up every week! You won’t be limited to the basic foods you make out of habit as meal prep encourages you to get more creative by looking up new recipes.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to achieve a meal prep routine. Everyone has their own way of doing it and through trial and error you will begin to realize what works best for you, and what doesn’t!