Meal prepping is a popular trend that's all about preparing healthy, delicious meals in advance. As a registered dietitian, I'm a big fan of this approach because improves the quality and quantity of your meals, saves time and money, and reduces food waste! In this article, we will explore 4 benefits of meal prepping and provide 6 easy tips on how to prepare for a week’s worth of meals so you can become a meal prepping star!
4 Benefits of Meal Prepping
- Improves meal quality and quantity: Whether you're juggling a busy schedule, navigating social situations with tempting treats, or struggling to resist the pull of your favorite takeout joint, meal prepping can be a game-changer for your health.
Why meal prep? Portion control! It ensures consistent, healthy portions of nutritious food.
You'll have the power to customize your meals to your unique dietary needs and preferences, whether your diet is vegan, gluten-free, or low-carb.
- Saves time:
While meal prepping may seem daunting to spend a few hours on the weekend prepping your meals, it can actually save you a lot of time and stress throughout the week. Also, preparing meals in advance doesn't have to be dull and repetitive. It can actually be a fantastic way to add variety to your diet while saving time and money. With a bit of creativity, you can use the same ingredients to make a range of different dishes that will keep your taste buds excited and your body nourished. For example, you can cook different types of meat, vegetables, and grains and bake them all together in the oven, or you can stir-fry them on the stove while boiling some noodles or making rice in the rice cooker. You'll have more time for other activities like exercise, spending time with loved ones, or pursuing hobbies.
- Saves money: Eating out or buying pre-made meals can be expensive, and the cost can add up over time.
Save money by purchasing ingredients in bulk and cooking your meals at home! It's the wallet-friendly way to go!
Planning your meals around what's on sale can also help you save money and avoid food waste.
- Reduces food waste: Restaurant portions are often too large, leading to overeating or wasted food if not taken to-go.
Environmentally conscious? Plan your meals and buy only what you need. This reduces the risk of over-purchasing and spoilage.
Prepare for a Week’s Meal in 6 Steps
- Plan your menu: Grab a printed or digital calendar and let's start planning! Take a look at your schedule for the week ahead and consider any events or activities that may impact your mealtime. Then, get creative and fill in your desired meals - this is your chance to mix it up and try new recipes!
- Make your ingredient list: Create a shopping list of all the ingredients you'll need. If you're new to cooking, look up recipes online to determine how much of each ingredient you'll need. Categorize your ingredients to make your grocery shopping trip more efficient - for example, fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy or fortified soy alternatives. Check your pantry, fridge, and freezer for any ingredients you already have, and only purchase what you need to avoid unnecessary waste.
- Shop for ingredients: Shopping time! Consider buying in bulk for items you use frequently, like chicken breast or rice, and freeze any unused portions in individual zip lock bags for later use. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for sales and seasonal produce to save money.
- Prepare your meals (and snacks!): Set aside a few hours, perhaps on the weekend, to prepare your meals. Start by cooking any grains or proteins that will take the longest to cook, such as rice or chicken. Then, chop up any vegetables and fruits you will need for the week. Divide everything into individual portions and store in air-tight containers.
- Store your meals: Once you've prepared your meals, it's important to store them properly to ensure they stay fresh and tasty. Refrigerate meals you plan to eat within the 2 to 3 days, and freeze the rest of the meals to enjoy later in the week. Be sure to label each container with the name of the meal and the date it was prepared or the day you plan to have it. This will help you keep track of how long each meal has been in the fridge or freezer.
- Reheat and enjoy: And voilà! When it’s time to eat, all you need to do is to heat it up in the microwave or oven. Enjoy your healthy, nutritious meal while knowing that it was prepared with love, care and intention.
There you have it! One step closer to a healthier life. By following these 6 simple steps, you can take control of your diet, save time and money, reduce food waste, and enjoy delicious, nutritious meals throughout the week. So why not give meal prepping a try and become a meal prepping star today?