Since starting my 28 Day Nutrition Challenge meal prepping has become a major part of my daily, and weekly, food routine. Previously, I never really bothered about prepping my food in advance. I’d wake up in the morning and decide what I was eating that day in the morning; usually something quick to make before rushing out the door for work. Dinners were usually decided upon when I got home from work and, once again, a quick and easy to prepare meal usually won out.
Now, my diet has never been particularly bad, but it’s also never been particularly well thought out and planned.
Taking on the Challenge has meant that I now need to plan and prepare my meals in advance to avoid falling down the hole of taking the easy, and generally unhealthy way out.
I have found that through meal prepping I have more control over what I eat, have not succumbed to hunger pangs between meals, and am definitely eating a more healthy and balanced diet.
Here are my top tips on why we should all meal prep.
Meal Prepping Saves You Time
There may be 24 hours in a day but for most of us we complain that that is not enough; there’s not enough time to exercise, not enough time to get all our daily tasks done, not enough time to enjoy being with family and friends, not enough time to eat healthily. We’ve all been there and fallen into the trap of quick fixes and fast food.
Meal prepping helps to regain some of that lost time. Sure, you do need to invest some time upfront to plan out your meals properly and to cook them, but you will still end up saving time overall. Once your meals are prepared ahead of time, all you need to do is take them out of the fridge and heat them up, eliminating all those lost hours deciding what to cook each night; and freeing up the time to do the things you really want.
Extra Bonus: By prepping your meals for the week or next 2 or 3 days in advance you will always have healthy options close at hand helping to build a positive lifestyle change.
Meal Prepping can Save You Money
As a Scotsman this one puts a broad smile on my face – we’re apparently very tight with our money, yet also extremely generous to guests, go figure that one out.
Yes, meal prepping can save you money if you plan in advance and stick to only what is on your shopping list – no treats. 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.
It’s a popular misconception that eating fast food is cheaper than buying from the grocery store, and perhaps as a one-off it is, but in the long run, the maths just do not add up.
Take Hungary, where I currently live, as an example. Eating a plate of chicken, rice, and veg with a soft drink would set me back around 1,600 HUF if I decide to eat out at lunch. However, for around 2,500 HUF I can buy 1kg of chicken, 1kg of rice, and enough veg to last me three or four days worth of lunches, working out at between 625HUF – 833HUF per day. The same was true of pricing when I lived in the UK and I am sure this is replicated in many countries around the world.
Extra Bonus: Don’t be afraid to buy in bulk and use your freezer; you will get through it eventually by planning out your meals wisely.
Meal Prepping Helps Regulate Portion Control
One of the main attractions to meal prepping is that it teaches you balance. Packing your meals in containers stops 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.
When eating out we are at the mercy of the restaurant when it comes to how much food is placed on our plates, and we have little idea if we have 1 cup of pasta or 1 ½ cups of pasta in front us. Meal prepping gives you that control and allows you to stay on top of your carb and calorie intake according to your nutrition plan.
Bonus Extra: You will soon realise how much excess food you have been eating and that filling your plate to the point of overflow is not necessary for a healthy diet/lifestyle.
Meal Prepping Helps You Stay on Track
Having your food prepared for your entire week is the best and easiest way to keep you on track with your nutrition goals. Whether you are trying to lose weight or gain weight you should have a plan regarding how much food you should be eating daily or weekly.
By having your meals prepared and divided into their specific portions you will be more likely to stay on track with a healthy eating lifestyle.
Bonus Extra: Keep a written log of your daily consumption along with meal prepping, the more levels of accountability there are, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Meal Prepping is an Investment in Your Health
The best part about meal prepping is that you are investing in YOU and YOUR FUTURE, and building positive habits. By choosing ahead of time what you will be eating you are able to eat cleaner than those who don’t. You won’t be scrambling to find something to eat, and risk being exposed to unhealthy options, because your meals and snacks are already prepared, and are healthy. The benefits of eating a clean diet are endless. Good nutrition doesn’t just contribute to just a smaller waistline, it will also contribute to heart health and other factors.
Bonus Extra: Eating a healthier diet will fuel your body longer, giving you more energy and help you recover quicker from exercise.
Meal Prepping Creates Family Time
Along with Saving Time (point one), food prepping is a great activity for the whole family to get involved in; especially if you have young kids. Not only do you get an extra pair of helping hands but you are also able to pass on healthy habits to last a lifetime, and become a great role model in the process.
Bonus Extra: The whole family, your flatmates, anyone you live with, can become involved in the prepping process giving everyone a say in the meal plan for the days and weeks ahead.