Meal Prepping: Reap The Benefits
What to eat... What to eat, oh what to eat?
Meal prepping can become a maze of many turns, and dead-ends for most of us. Time after time we start the process of meal-prepping only to let it fall by the wayside, and end back on old and bad habits. Back to the comfort of meals that are not beneficial to our fitness goals. I myself have been a victim of failed attempts at meal prepping, but never gave up on it. I know that if I continue eating food that is bad for me, it will be completely undoing all the hard work I put in at the gym. The problem I have ran into with meal prepping is repeating the same food throughout the week, the same taste, the same flavors. It got boring!
We will concern ourselves with variety later, right now lets focus on the purpose and benefits of meal prepping!
Benefits of Meal Prepping
One of the obvious benefits of meal prepping is the amount of money you save on a monthly basis. One of the main reason why I got into meal prepping was the amount of money that one spends everyday for breakfast and lunch. One must eat, yes? Well, lets calculate when one person spends in one day, and what that translates to in a month.
For breakfast you're looking at $6.00 to $7.50. That's for 5 days out of the week. That comes out between $30.00 to $37.50 a week, which translates to $120.00 to $150.00 a month for breakfast. Now let's calculate lunch. Lunch can be between $9.00 to $11.00 a day, which comes to 45.00 to $55.00 day, a month that will be between $180.00 to $220.00. Add your monthly breakfast and lunch, and you're looking at $300.00 to $370.00 a month for breakfast and lunch combined. INSANE!!!!
This is money that can be saved, go towards other responsibilities at home... Stop the Madness!!!
One of the other benefits is saving time, the food can be prepared on a Sunday and set aside for the rest of the week. You will not have to deal with cooking extra throughout the week to take food for lunch at the office. It will also help with weight control as you are now forced to deal with portion control (depending on your goals). Meal prepping can also contribute to a more nutritional diet. You will find yourself be more conscious of the food you select for your meal prepping. This will relieve your overall daily stress of last minute decisions about what to eat.
So, save your self some time, relieve some stress and save some MONEY!!!
Prepping for Meal Prep
Where to start is always the question, there are countless options out there, and most likely you will not be handling meal prep on your own. you will be sharing this experience with your family. Discuss with your family what types of meals and favorite foods they like to eat, remember to stay conscious of healthy choices. Get a calendar or spreadsheet to record your meal ideas, which recipes worked out best, the sites with your favorite recipes, and of course the infamous shopping list.
One of the reasons we are doing this, is to make healthy choices, to slowly start weaning ourselves off of the bad food that bogs us down and do not sustain energy. You want to make sure you have an excellent collection of healthy recipes so research thoroughly, you want to make sure you do not discourage yourself from meal prepping. Consider specific meals or foods for different days of the week. The consistency of knowing what to expect works for some, for others variation is paramount. what ever works for you, remember you are doing this for you and your family.
One last point. Start small, make sure the meals you are creating are meals are nutritious and enjoyable. Aim to create enough dinners for 3 to 4 days of the week.
Choose a day of the week to plan the menu, I prefer Saturday planning and shopping, and Sunday prepping. Start with a week by week plan, this way it will make it easier to plan your meals, and manage storage. Keep your shopping list handy, you don't want a last minute scramble to figure out what your plan of attack is, remain organized.
So, one of the other reasons you are doing this is to save money. As you find your favorite 'prep-able' meals, or your menus become more familiar and consistent, keep an eye out for sales and coupons to stock up on frequently used ingredients.
On your meal prep days, focus first on foods that may take longer to cook. Is always best to get those out of the way first: proteins like chicken and fish; whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and other similar ingredients. This will include any vegetables you plan on roasting as well. One thing to keep in mind is to make this enjoyable for the entire family, so incorporate fun ingredients you know your family enjoy, like fruits, leafy vegetables. When you cook a recipe, make sure to cook extra portions for another day or to freeze to enjoy later on down the road. For lunches, use individual meal containers. Divide the prepped food into the containers on prep day.
Keep it easy, neat and simple to travel with, go to any discount store and purchase your meal-prep storage containers. If you can get these ahead of time, that will save you some time on running around. You can also buy these in bulk online as well.
Meal prep definitely can save us a lot of time and money if you are prepping just enough for what is needed the following week. Storage is an important step in meal planning. However, and I am guilty of this, is the food that can go to waste if forgotten. A good habit to develop is to label your prepped items with a 'use by' date. Also rotate your meals, bring to the forefront the oldest meals so that they are used and not allowed to spoil. When it comes to freezing, some foods work better than others. Avoid freezing items with high moisture content, such as greens, tomatoes, also certain fruits as they tend to get mushy when they thaw.
Change it Up
To keep things interesting and exciting on your meal prep adventures, change up the recipes and menus. If its just you, you might want to try a week where you have a different meal for each day. The options are many, but this will only work if you are discipline and stay on the path.
For those pursuing this as a means to eat healthy while on their fitness journey, I cannot stress enough the importance of protein. If your goal is to control your portions and lose weight, that's fine as long as you increase your protein intake. If you want to pack on muscle by consuming larger portions, that's fine too, as long as you increase your protein intake. The DRI [Dietary Reference Intake] is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average person. What we are looking for is sustainability for the hard work we put in everyday at the gym. Reward your muscles with some protein. You will be happy you did.
Above you have all the information you need to get started on the road to meal prepping. Remember, do what works for you, go about it the right way and you will have nothing but success. Thank you for your support!