Meal Prepping 101
5 Reasons Why You Should Meal Prep.
I remember when my sister first started meal prepping, I was like “How do you eat the same lunch meals and the same dinner meals everyday for a week? I would get so bored.” She kept telling me that it’s not that bad, but it still took me some time to jump on the bandwagon too! Eventually I caved in to meal prepping because I thought it might be easier given my schedule and chaotic life. To be honest, it’s actually not boring! I mean of course, sure you can make it boring, but I try to make meals that are healthy, but enjoyable too.
There are all different resources and ways to meal prep, so the way I do it may be totally different than someone else. First of all, I don’t meal prep my breakfast even though I typically eat the same few things for breakfast. I make a lunch meal and a dinner meal. Every lunch for a week is the same and every dinner for a week is the same. In order to keep balance I try to pick a more simple, nutrient rich meal like a dish with lentils for one of my meals. Then for the other meal I might pick something that is less nutrient rich, but has more flavor and is more enjoyable. I do my meal prepping typically on Sunday afternoons to get ready for the work week. My sister uses FitPackers (I’ve used them too) and I recently bought a three-sectioned container set for my meals.
Meal Prepping Saves You Time
Prior to meal prepping, I used to plan out a different dinner meal for each and every night. Then I would pack the left overs for lunch the following day. I typically would try to plan for at least 5-6 meals per week. Being a vegan, you sometimes have to get a bit more creative with meals to ensure you get nutrients without just eating pasta for 2 months straight. I would spend a lot of time on Pinterest finding 5-6 recipes that were different from the previous week’s recipes. Then I would have to see what ingredients I needed to buy, make a list, and search the grocery store for those items. So that right there is just the planning of the meals; I haven’t even gotten into the prepping of the meals yet!
So then I’d come home from work every night (tired, with tons to do of course) to read a recipe and cook dinner. Now don’t get me wrong, I love cooking. However, after a long day at work I don’t want to spend an hour cooking and another half hour cleaning up especially when I have other things I need to accomplish. Last Spring I got accepted into part time grad school on top of teaching full time and managing everything else in my busy life.
So this past Summer, I decided I probably needed to meal prep since my Mondays and Wednesdays would be spent in class from 6-9. Getting home from work at 5 and leaving by 5:30 is not ideal when it comes to making a new meal. Boy am I so glad I decided to meal prep. I can come home, heat up my dinner, eat it quickly, and head out for class. The meal prepping process is lengthy and yes, the dishes will be crazy. However, keep in mind that this is one night of prepping and cleaning versus every night!
Meal Prepping Saves You Money
This one is pretty simple. If you have more meals to cook, you have more items to purchase, which means more spending! I personally still spend quite a bit at the grocery store, ranging anywhere between $60-$100. That is because I shop at Sprouts and buy a lot of snacks, produce, and vegan products. However, I would be spending more if I had more than 2 meals to cook each week like I used to. Meal prepping can also help you cut back on expenses because you know exactly what you need instead of just buying whatever you think you might need.
Meal Prepping Helps You Control Your Intake
When you prep and cook for a whole week of meals, you are able to portion out your servings. It’s really helpful when you have specific Tupperware containers that are sectioned to give you an idea of how much to consume. Plus, if you are really serious you can get a food scale and measure out your portions to ensure you are sticking to appropriate serving sizes. You are less likely to over eat with meal prepping because you only have that specified amount for that meal.
Meal Prepping Saves You From Making Poor Health Decisions
When I was making dinners each night, I would sometimes come home too tired to cook. That would then lead to me finding a reason to eat out, skip dinner, or eat something unhealthy instead. With meal prepping, since I already have the food made, then it would be pointless for me to make those poor decisions I used to make. It’s hard to give good reasons to get unhealthy food when I have an already made meal that I just have to heat up.
Meal Prepping Helps You Track Macros
First of all, I do not track macros…yet. However, my sister has tracked her macros many times before and even has a post about it (check it out here!). I am planning on tracking my macros a bit when Summer comes along because I want to keep up with how much protein I consume. Meal prepping can make tracking macros easier because you can enter in the same counts for each day. Plus, you can plan your meals around the specific macros you are working on personally. Doing this would ensure that you get the right amount of protein, carbs, or fat each day instead of just sporadically throughout the week. It might be tedious to keep up with macros, but it’s something that can really help with nutritional goals.
As you can see, meal prepping has a lot of pros that could really benefit the health aspect of your life.
If you’d be interested in learning more about vegan meal prep specifically, check out my sister’s most viewed post.