Do you ever have those days where you feel like you don’t have enough time or energy to cook so you end up ordering take-out or eating a frozen meal and snacks? We all have those days, and it’s completely natural not wanting to cook after a full day of work and activities. Cooking a balanced meal takes time and effort and ordering take-out often really adds up. However, meal prepping may be a solution to all of this.
Meal Prepping, or meal preparation, is the process of planning and preparing meals ahead of schedule. It is largely used by working individuals as a time-saving cooking technique, but the benefits go beyond that. It can help with portion sizes, nutrition goals, and more! Here are some reasons why meal prepping is beneficial:
1. Helps Save Money: Prepping motivates you to eat more of your meals at home rather
than eating out or ordering take-out. On average, commercially-prepared meals cost 3 times
more than home-cooked meals, so meal prepping is a big money-saving habit! Meal prepping
also promotes batch cooking, or cooking in large quantities. When cooking larger portions,
purchasing groceries in bulk is a good money-saving option. You are paying less for packaging
which all-in-all is cheaper and more sustainable for the environment!
2. Saves Time: Meal prepping allows you to eat your pre-prepared meals, allowing you to utilize your time in other areas during the week. Of course, you’ll be spending more time batch cooking on the designated meal-prep day, but you won’t need to spend any additional time cooking for the rest of the days!
3. Helps with Portion Control: Dividing meals into containers helps you portion out the amount you need for meals. The more experience you have with meal prepping, the more you will know how much of certain foods it takes for you to feel satiated.
4. Helps with Reduction in Food Waste: Meal prepping involves planning and selecting recipes for the week and putting together a grocery shopping list. Since you know what ingredients you need for batch cooking, you will purchase only what you need (maybe with occasional impulse buys) and use all of the ingredients. This prevents any ingredients from sitting too long and becoming spoiled, resulting in waste reduction!
5. It's Fun! Rather than thinking of the batch cooking day as a chore, make it fun by getting family members or friends involved and let everyone show off their cooking skills! This is a great way to improve cooking skills. If you are doing the batch cooking alone, play some music or put on a show and enjoy the relaxing alone-time.
New to Meal Prepping? Not a problem! Here is a beginner’s guide with tips and tricks on several different ways to meal prep efficiently.
Batch Cooking: Batch cooking involves cooking large batches of food at once and refrigerating
or freezing in containers. You portion the food out on a plate or bowl when it is meal time.
Individually-portioned meals: These meals are pre-portioned and are ideal for grab-and-go. Ideally, these meals will be refrigerated rather than frozen, and eaten within a few days.
Prepared Ingredients: Preparing ingredients beforehand saves any time needed for washing and cutting the ingredients. The meals need to be cooked during meal time, but all the ingredients are already prepped and just require heating!
After you have chosen which meal prep technique works best for you, it is time to get started with the meal prep process.
Create your grocery shopping list. Spend some time to plan out what meals you would like for
the week and put together a shopping list of ingredients you need. It may be useful to browse the
weekly deals at your grocery store and plan the meals around those deals. Any produce that is on sale
is typically in season and at its peak flavor! This can help you save time and money at the grocery store.
Select a combination of recipes that suit your nutrition goals. You may have certain nutrition goals such as gluten-free, weight loss, or low sodium. Make sure you are selecting proper recipes for such goals.
Designate a day and time of the week to prepare your meal prep. Sunday afternoon is a common time for people to meal prep, since it isn’t a typical work day and it is right before the week starts.
Have you have your containers on hand and ready to be used. Having identical containers can help you stay on track with your meal plan since it looks organized and clean.
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