Why I Incorporated Meal Prep Into My Life
My life used to be so hectic prior to meal prepping. I worked over 50 hours a week and drove 45 minutes one way to work. My day looked a little like this: wake up at 5:30am, go to work for 8-12 hours, go to the gym, get home at 8pm, make dinner, go to bed by 11pm. By 8pm I had zero energy to cook dinner and I was exhausted from a busy day. Cooking was the last thing I wanted to do. I wasn’t always eating healthy and in turn, my workouts were not effective because I wasn’t eating the correct fuel to make my workouts count. I found myself buying prepared food more than I should and eating pasta because it was quick. This routine was doing my body no good. I was bogged down, exhausted, bloated, and had low energy.
This lifestyle was not sustainable so I made some changes. I transferred to a physical therapy clinic closer to my home and I began meal prepping. It didn’t take long to realize how much time and money I was saving. Meal preparation is one way you can contribute to a more healthy, well balanced, lifestyle.
5 Major Benefits of Meal Prepping:
1. Save Time
- If you are a busy mom, boss babe, or constantly on the go, meal prepping will save you countless hours. You can finally come home from a busy day and relax without having to worry about “what’s for dinner”. Simply reheat the dish you made at the beginning of the week and, voilà!
2. Fitness Goals
- If you count your macros, meal prepping keeps you accountable. It is really easy to keep track of what you’re eating since you eat the same meal(s) for 4-5 days.
- Speaking of that, you’ll feel less inclined to stop at a fast food restaurant, buy lunch, or snack when you already have prepared food ready to go.
- Meal prepping allows for a predetermined portion size which prevents overeating.
3. Efficient Grocery Shopping
- You no longer have to go up and down each aisle thinking about what you might need this week.
- By meal prepping, you will only have to go to the grocery store 1x/ week and get exactly what you need. Nothing more, nothing less.
4. Snacking Is Totally Acceptable
- Meal prepping is the act of preparing your major meals i.e breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner ahead of time. You can still pack an apple, carrots, or nuts along with your major meal.
- Know what those snacks will be ahead of time so you don’t end up eating more than you need.
5. Save Money
- “A Healthy Profit” I have my mind set on a few important topics: eating and living healthy and prioritizing finances. I have found that meal prepping has actually saved me a ton of money.
- There is no extra food at the end of the week, nothing goes bad, and nothing is wasted. For example on Sundays my fridge is completely full and by Friday I expect there to be almost nothing left.
- By creating a list of everything you plan on eating for the week and sticking to it, you’ll be less inclined to buy things you don’t actually need like the ice cream in aisle 8. Again, snacking is okay and splurging on a delicious treat is also okay but try to stick to your set routine.
Meal Prepping Guide: 5 Steps
I know it seems overwhelming to change your eating routine but keep it simple, silly! Consider what your favorite meals consist of, your budget, caloric needs, and what will satisfy your stomach.
1. Pick at least 1 meal you will prepare ahead of time. As you become more comfortable with meal prepping perhaps you prep all 3 meals of the day.
In a separate blog post, I explain how I even prep my snacks ahead of time to prevent over indulgent. If we aren’t cautious, calories can build up quick from snacking. Read my article on meal prepping snacks here.
2. Choose exactly what you are going to make for the meal(s) and what snacks go well with that meal
Example: breakfast is a banana, oatmeal, and protein shake. Lunch is coconut curry lentils with an apple. Dinner is a cobb salad with crackers and cheese for a snack.
3. Determine the day of the week that you will grocery shop and which day you will meal prep
Example: If you work a typical work week, Monday-Friday, I suggest grocery shopping on Saturday and doing all meal prep on Sunday prior to the start of a new week.
4. Purchase the correct containers
You really need an airtight container so that the food can stay fresh for longer in the fridge or freezer. I personally use glass containers which are microwave safe and BPA free . You can find my favorite containers on Amazon (affiliate link, thank you for shopping).
5. Allow yourself a couple days free
For me, I usually meal prep lunches and dinners 4 days a week (Monday-Thursday). I like to cook or go out on the weekends to bring variety into my diet. Even though I don’t meal prep on the weekends, I still try to make healthy choices.
Meal Prep Recipe Ideas
As I create and find more recipes, I will continue to update this list regularly. As of now, here are a couple recipes that I have made which are great for meal prepping. These are meals that have a classic, delicious taste that you won’t get tired of eating after 5 days. Please refer to the FDA guidelines for meat storage here. You may need to freeze Thursday or Fridays meal if food was prepared on Sunday.
- Coconut Curry Lentils
- Easy Panang Curry
- THICC Vegetarian Chili
- Overnight Oats Breakfast Prep
- Orzo Pasta Salad
- Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers
I hope you found this meal prepping guide helpful. Enjoy and as always, please reach out to me if you have any questions.