5 Reasons Why You Should Try It & Tips to Get Started
Meal prepping can be a lifesaver when you are trying to make positive changes to your eating habits. Read these great tips and earn points along the way!
Staying on track with a healthy diet is hard, especially with a busy schedule and the temptations we face on a daily basis. If you’re hungry and pressed for time, that pricey and unhealthy take-out spot can seem a lot more appealing than going home to wash, chop and cook ingredients for a nutritious meal. Meal prepping is the art of planning and preparing your meals in advance, and it’s a great way to prevent yourself from getting sidetracked from a healthy, affordable diet.
Here are 5 benefits of meal prep:
1) Portion & Weight Control
Meal prep is a perfect tool for those looking to lose weight because it allows you to portion out and limit your calorie, fat, salt, and sugar intake. As we all know, when you’re hungry and/or eating out it can be very easy to overeat. However, if you pack your meals away in containers you are much more likely to stop eating once they are empty.
2) Resist Temptation
Meal prep makes sticking to your diet significantly easier by making eating healthy the path of least resistance. When hunger strikes, instead of stopping by a drive-thru or eating that leftover cake from the office party, you now have the convenient option of popping a healthy, ready-to-eat meal in the microwave.
3) Save money
Eating healthy gets a bad rap for being too expensive, but meal prepping will not only save your waistline, it will also save you money. Meal preppers are less likely to spend excess money ordering out for lunch and/or dinner, and make fewer impulse food purchases. By planning your meals in advance, you can even choose your meal-prep recipes based on sales at the grocery store and save some cash by buying in bulk.
4) Save time
Planning out your meals, pre-chopping ingredients, and/or cooking all your food for the week in one day can seem daunting, but it will save you time in the long run. When you get home after a long day, you'll no longer spend time trying to figure out what to cook or doing last-minute grocery store runs. Instead, you have more time to workout, relax, and spend time with loved ones.
5) Reduce Stress
Stress can affect your immune system, cause digestive issues, and disrupt your sleeping patterns. Meal prepping can reduce the stress of constantly deciding what to eat because your decisions related to food have already been made. Grocery shopping also becomes less stressful because you’ll no longer spend time aimlessly wandering the aisles. Instead, you’ll come prepared with a grocery list and stay focused on making healthy choices.
The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recommends the following tips to get started:
Start small: Aim to create enough dinners for 2-3 days of the week.
Choose a specific day of the week to: 1) plan the menu, whether week by week or for the whole month, and write out your grocery list 2) food shop, 3) do meal prep, or most of your cooking.
Refrigeration and freezing are an important step to successful meal planning. Label all prepped items with a date so that you can track when to use them by. Rotate stored items so that the oldest foods/meals are kept up front.
Discuss with your family what types of foods and favorite meals they like to eat.
Start a monthly calendar or spreadsheet to record your meal ideas, favorite recipe sites, and food shopping lists.
Collect healthy recipes. Clip recipes from print magazines and newspapers and save in a binder, or copy links of recipes onto an online spreadsheet.
Consider specific meals or foods for different days of the week. Some families enjoy the consistency of knowing what to expect, and it can help to ease your meal planning. Examples are Meatless Mondays, Whole Grain Wednesdays, Stir-Fry Fridays, etc.