Meal prep is washing, chopping and cooking vegetables and other foods that will be eaten throughout the week. This allows for multiple uses of ingredients, such as roasted chicken or cottage pie that can be used in lunches and dinners. Meal prep also helps to cut down on food waste. By planning your meals, you will know what you are making and will be less likely to buy excess groceries midweek that may end up being thrown away.
1. Saves Money
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or just get a better handle on your diet, meal prep can help you save money. Rather than shopping without a plan and buying more than you need (then letting those leftovers spoil in the fridge), planning meals allows you to shop with a purpose, and buy fresh foods that are at their peak. Meal prep also helps reduce food waste—one-third of all food in the US ends up in the trash. To avoid this, make sure you have plenty of reusable containers and storage bags on hand. They can be found at your local grocery store or online.
2. Saves Time
Taking the time to plan and cook multiple meals on one day, like Sunday afternoon, gives you the ability to enjoy healthy dinners throughout the week without having to think about or go shopping for food. That’s also a lot of time saved that you might otherwise spend aimlessly browsing your cupboards for something to eat. Plus, when you’re meal prepping, you have complete control over the ingredients that go into your meals, making it easier to stick to a diet that supports your health goals. And that can help you avoid those lapses in motivation where buying takeout sounds so much more appealing than cooking at home. Plus, you’ll reduce food waste by cooking only what you need. That’s especially helpful considering that Americans throw away about a third of the food they buy each year.
3. Makes Meals More Nutritious
Meal prepping can be a great way to learn new recipes, perfect ones you already love and make the most out of your ingredients. It also means that you have more control over your diet and can stick to a specific health or fitness goal, such as cutting out sugar or sodium. You can meal prep full meals or just prep ingredients, which is useful if you’re a beginner to the kitchen and prefer to cook only certain parts of recipes. For example, you can chop veggies, mix spices or marinate meat in advance.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is important for good health and to maintain energy levels throughout the day. Without planning ahead, it’s easy to rely on quick, convenient takeaways and ready meals that can be high in calories, sugar and sodium.
4. Makes Meals More Appetizing
Whether you make a big batch of your favorite recipe on the weekend and then divvy it up into individual servings or simply cook extra protein, vegetables, and carbs for use in other meals throughout the week, meal prep is a great way to start developing habits around shopping for ingredients, preparing foods, and eating certain meals at different times of day. This can help you save money, reduce food waste, and eat healthier.
Having healthy meals on hand also makes it less tempting to head to the take-out window or raid your snack drawer. And since meal prepping creates instant portion control, you’ll be more likely to eat the right amount of food and stop when you’re full. This is an essential step toward achieving your weight loss goals.
5. Makes Meals More Sustainable
When you meal prep, it’s much easier to stick with your goals, especially when they involve changing your diet. It’s also a great way to learn more about cooking and nutrition. Prepping can help you avoid wasting food like produce that has withered in the crisper drawer or stews that have been forgotten on the back shelf. Instead, use labels to track expiration dates and rotate foods in and out of the fridge to ensure that your food doesn’t spoil before you can enjoy it.
Meal prep can also help you shop for more sustainable ingredients. Visit a local farmers market or talk to your local butcher about buying grass-fed meats and organic eggs, for example. This can make a huge difference in the overall quality of your diet.
In conclusion, the benefits of meal prep are numerous and impactful. From saving time and money to promoting healthier eating habits and reducing stress, meal prep is a valuable tool for anyone seeking a more organized and balanced approach to their diet and lifestyle.
Can meal prep help with weight loss or weight management?
Yes, meal prep can be a helpful tool for weight loss or weight management. By planning and portioning out meals in advance, you have better control over calorie intake and can make healthier food choices, which can contribute to achieving your weight goals.
Is meal prep suitable for individuals with dietary restrictions or specific nutritional needs?
Absolutely! Meal prep can be customized to accommodate various dietary restrictions, preferences, and nutritional needs. Whether you’re following a specific diet plan, have food allergies, or need to meet certain nutritional goals, meal prep allows you to tailor your meals accordingly, ensuring you stay on track with your requirements.