The Benefits of Meal Prepping Explained
If you’ve heard of meal prep and wondered what all the fuss is about, this article is for you.
Any food or meal that’s prepared in advance qualifies as meal prep. Usually, meal preppers will make anything from a few days to a whole week’s worth of food at once.
What is Meal Prep?
While there are multiple ways to do meal prep, meal preppers will generally take the time to cook or prepare food in bulk to save themselves time during the week. It doesn’t matter if you spend 30 minutes or three hours on meal prep – it still counts!
Meal prepping can be anything from packing leftovers for lunch, roasting a big tray of vegetables to use later, or dividing up a casserole to eat during the week. For instance, a meal prepper will prepare and pack all their work lunches on a Saturday afternoon instead of having to spend time organizing lunches during the busy workweek.
In fact, even ordering convenient, pre-packaged meals or ingredients for the week from a food delivery service qualifies as meal prepping (if you’d prefer this convenient option, try these HelloFresh alternatives).
Here are some surprising benefits of having your meals prepared in advance.
It Saves You Money
When you take some time to make a meal schedule for the week, you have a solid plan to help you determine what ingredients you need to buy, which ingredients you already have, and what you’re going to cook. A meal plan will eliminate unnecessary or impulse purchases when you go to the grocery store.
Following your meal plan will also reduce food waste and help you use the ingredients you already have on hand. Making a meal schedule, sticking to it, and preparing your meals in advance will also help you avoid the temptation to order unhealthy takeout or spend more money eating out at a restaurant.
It Saves You Time
Once you’ve made a meal plan for the week, you can plan your time more effectively. Checking your plan and figuring out if you can prepare any ingredients or meals ahead of time will save you from having to cook during the busiest parts of your week.
To save time, look at your meal plan and ask yourself if there are any meals you can make in advance or if there are fruits and vegetables you could wash and chop beforehand. Even taking just a few minutes to do some of your meal prep can make a world of difference when you’re hungry and pressed for time!
Essentially, any meal prep you do beforehand will save you time on cooking and washing dishes – instead of doing the chores of cooking or washing dishes every day, you can do them once per week.
It Reduces Food Waste
When you plan ahead and schedule your meals for the week, you’re less likely to waste any food or ingredients. By following your meal schedule and prepping or cooking in advance, you’ll buy only the ingredients you need and use them all up. When meals are unplanned, you’re more likely to purchase fresh produce you don’t need that ends up rotting in your fridge.
Planning and preparing your meals beforehand will help you use the ingredients you have and help you avoid buying ingredients you don’t need. And, because you planned and portioned your meals in advance, you’re more likely to eat them.
It Helps You Get Organized
Planning and preparing your meals for the week ahead of time will make you more organized and prepared. Being more organized and prepared will benefit you physically and mentally.
Meal prepping will help you plan your nutrition for the week. Not having to worry about what you’re going to eat will reduce anxiety when you realize you still need to cook after a long workday. One helpful tip is to make a realistic and doable plan that you can stick to. The more realistic you are with your food prep goals, the easier your plan will be to follow.
It Helps You Create Healthier Options
One massive benefit of meal prepping is that you know what goes into your meals – which means that you can make sure you are eating healthy, homemade food.
Having your meals planned also helps you avoid the temptation to order fast food when you’re hungry, tired, or short on time. Always having food ready means you’ll be less inclined to reach for processed foods and unhealthy snacks as a quick fix.
It Helps You Reach Your Health Goals
This benefit is an extension of having healthier meal options available during the week. When you prepare nutritious, homemade meals in advance, you can ensure that you eat healthy foods.
Having healthy meals that meet your dietary requirements available to you during the week will help you with your health goals. Whether your goals are to eat more whole foods, lose weight, gain muscle mass, or avoid carbs and sugar for better health, meal planning and prep can help you stay on track.
It Improves Your Culinary Skills
Committing to meal prep naturally goes hand-in-hand with spending some dedicated time in the kitchen. Some people – especially beginner cooks – may find cooking their own meals quite intimidating. However, deciding to try a new recipe for a healthy casserole or chop all your vegetables in advance will give you a valuable opportunity to improve your culinary skills.
As they say, practice makes perfect – and the more you practice, the more confident you’ll be in the kitchen. Starting food prep in itself is a learning curve – you’ll learn a lot about nutrition, cooking techniques, and eating healthily.
It Can Decrease Stress
Dedicating some time on the weekend to prep your meals can also be therapeutic – meal prepping doesn’t just decrease last-minute-cooking anxiety; it can also be a calming activity. Cooking naturally engages all your senses and reduces stress.
In fact, cooking is so therapeutic that clinics use cooking therapy to treat mental health issues with promising results. When you’re engrossed in a recipe, you will need to be creative and you won’t have time for negative thinking!