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It’s far too easy to lose sight of your health and fitness goals when your schedule is jam-packed with work, school, daily life tasks, and family obligations. Just think about it. After a long and exhausting day, there’s a high probability that you’d rather grab a quick meal from a fast-food place than cook a meal at home.
This “back to business” season, we wanted to take a new approach to maintaining our healthy eating commitments. We spoke to a Registered Dietitian to learn more about the benefits of meal prepping and also find out why the time-saving practice is essential to those looking to balance their healthy lifestyle with their busy schedule.
What is meal prepping?
Meal prepping consists of planning, shopping, and preparing your meals in advance.
“Some people plan just one meal, such as lunch, while other people may plan for multiple meals per day. These meals are often prepared all at once and portioned out into individual servings to be eaten as planned in the upcoming days,” Alyssa Pacheco explains. “For example, someone may decide to use a Sunday afternoon to prep their breakfast and lunch meals in advance for their 5-day work week.”
Below, find out the top five reasons we’re now excited about getting in the kitchen on Sunday to meal prep for the week ahead!
1. Save Time And Energy — This is our favorite!
Say bye-bye to daily cooking and kitchen cleaning! According to Pacheco, spending a few hours preparing meals on the weekend will allow you to reclaim valuable hours during your work week.
“You can cook once and enjoy the rewards multiple times over,” the dietitian explains to BrownStyle Magazine, sharing the benefits of doubling or tripling your recipes. “It takes significantly less time and energy to cook five servings of one meal than to cook five separate types of meals.”
2. Easily Stay On Track With Your Health Goals
While meal prepping might sound like a daunting task, Pacheco says it can actually be a game-changer if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle without compromising your busy schedule.
“Since meal prepping requires you to plan in advance, it helps you to make intentional decisions about which foods and meals you’re going to include in your diet,” she notes. “Meal prepping also helps you to have a quick and healthy option readily available, which is oftentimes better than skipping a meal entirely or resorting to takeout when you’re short on time.”
3. Stop Food Waste And Save Yourself Some Money
Meal prepping not only saves time but also saves money! By buying ingredients in bulk and planning meals strategically, you can quickly cut down on food waste and unnecessary grocery trips.
“When you’re planning your meals in advance, you can easily shop the sales and purchase produce and protein sources that are in season,” the expert shares. “It can also save you from resorting to takeout or food delivery apps, which can quickly get very expensive!”
After choosing the recipes you’re going to meal prep for the week, review the ingredient lists. Before shopping, look in your kitchen for any ingredients you may already have on hand. If you don’t have an ingredient, add it to your grocery list. This way, you can avoid buying what you already have and reduce food waste.
FYI: Whisk is an all-in-one app that allows you to find delicious recipes and generate grocery lists with ease.
4. Flex Your Cooking Skills
Meal prepping can be a great way to flex your cooking skills and build up your confidence in trying new flavors. Pacheco reminds us that the USDA only recommends refrigerating cooked protein sources, such as chicken and beef, for up to 3-4 days.
Based on these recommendations, she suggests meal prepping 1-2 times per week. This gives you plenty of time to research new recipes between each cooking session and also offers the fun opportunity to experiment with different flavors. Sounds like a delicious adventure to us!
Overall, we encourage you to put on your aprons, grab your containers, and flex your meal-prepping skills. What do you think about meal prepping? Have you ever tried it?