Here are my Top 7 Reasons to Meal Prep along with some helpful tips and tricks. I have been meal prepping every week for years and it honestly makes a huge difference when it comes to reaching my fitness goals.
1. Meal Prepping Saves time
Meal prepping is a great way to save time. Instead of cooking for up to an hour every day of the week (especially on those long days) you can block out some time during the weekend to get all the cooking done at once. The more you meal prep the more efficient you can become. Knowing when exactly to put stuff on the stove, put stuff in the microwave etc. My typical routine is to throw something in the crockpot first and cook the rest of my meals while the crockpot is going. That way I can prep 15–20 meals in less than two hours.
2. Meal Prepping Saves money
Meal prepping allows you to save money by not needing to go out to eat as much during the week. It is a lot easier to just go home and eat a prepped meal than have to decide what to eat going out. Making healthy choices on the go, especially after a long day, isn’t easy for anyone. By prepping your meals you can get rid of that temptation entirely by having an option at home ready to go in a few minutes in the microwave! I meal prep the same thing each week (boring, I know) and this allows me to keep my grocery bill within $5 to $10 each week which goes a long way for budgeting finances.
3. Meal Prepping Saves energy
Willpower is a finite resource that will get expended after a long day. Research shows that the more times you have to make a decision the more your willpower becomes depleted. That is why some people can resist temptation for eating bad food all day and then come home and binge on whatever is in the fridge. Meal prepping saves you the energy for having to make those decisions. Saving this willpower can be huge for making other important decisions like getting that energy up to go workout after a long day or the willpower to get to sleep early.
4. Less dishes
Meal prepping is a great way to save dishes. You cook once a week and have a massive influx of dirty cooking ware, but after that all you have to worry about is a few pieces of Tupperware every day. Anyone who has gone without a dishwasher for any period of time knows how much time not having to hand wash a bunch of plates and bowls each night.
5. Easier control of your food intake
Meal prepping adds a great deal of consistency to your food intake. Even the best guess at going out to eat every day will probably only come within 200–300 calories each day (even when using food tracking apps which have a wide range of accuracy). The key to long term progress is always consistency, and meal prepping is the way to add that consistency to your diet week in and week out.
6. Ability to add variety
Meal prepping doesn’t have to be boring by any means. I will be the first person to admit I am a very boring meal prepper. I cook the same three meals the same way every week for months on end. There are almost unlimited resources online which provide a great variety of different meal prepping recipes. Having 6 to 10 meals on rotation can satisfy most people for at least a year if not more!
7. My Meal Prep Strategy
Here is a breakdown of how I like to meal prep. I cook my lunch and dinner for 6 days every Sunday. My breakfast, pre-workout, and post-workout meals aren’t “prepped” necessarily but they are pre-portioned things I can just throw in the microwave to heat up or are already packaged and ready to go. This saves a ton of time. When it comes to my macronutrient intake 80% of every day is meal prepped. 20% I leave empty and available for anything. This means that even after I eat every meal that I have prepped I still have a few hundred calories I can use however I want. Craving a specific snack? No problem. Hungry for some extra protein? No problem. Feeling good and just want to stay under calories on that day? No problem. I have written about this built in flexibility macros to clean eating before and it is honestly the make or break when it comes to sticking to my meal plan every week.
Tips and Tricks:
· Start simple and build out. You don’t need to cook like a 5-start chef your first few times meal prepping. Get into the routine of it, try out a few simple recipes, and go from there.
· Recycle your Tupperware monthly. Tupperware is great because it is only a few bucks for like a 5-pack. I try not to use the same Tupperware for longer than a month to avoid any of the plastic leaching into my food after repetitive use.
· Buy crockpot liners. They can make a HUGE difference when it comes to cleaning you crockpot after using it. I usually just have to remove the liner and throw it away and wipe the crockpot with a paper towel and it is 100% clean.
· Try to get as many things going as once. If you can have all four burners, the oven, the microwave, and the crockpot going you will save A TON of time for your prep.
· Invest in a good meal prep bag. There are some great meal prep bag brands out there, but honestly a decent lunch bag will work just as well. Make sure it is sturdy, can fit all your meals, and keeps everything cold.
· Get your dishes done right after you finish. It can be tempting to take a step away after spending a few hours meal prepping but it is always better to just power through and get everything clean before you take that nice break.
· It’s not the end of the world to miss a few meals now and again. It happens to the best of us so just because you finish the week with a few uneaten meals it doesn’t mean you failed at meal prepping for the week.