Do You Even Meal Prep?
Most people on the go have had days where they forgot to pack a lunch and had to make a ridiculously quick trip to the nearest fast food joint before class started or lunch break was over. And on the way to this less-than-healthy chain restaurant (or corner store), you pass by people who are eating these cookie-cutter meals out of a perfectly-portioned Tupperware. Then later that month, you see the same people doing the exact same thing. How is it that they seem to always have these microwave-dinner looking meals and are never seen scavenging for a quick bite to eat like you?
They Meal Prep
Meal prepping is simply planning out a weeks-worth (or few days worth) of meals by cooking all of your food in bulk, dividing the food groups up into multiple ready-to-eat meals, and storing them in individual containers that fit in your fridge. This is commonly found in the fitness community, as many bodybuilders and athletes have a designed schedule for when they eat and train, as well as specific dietary requirements.
But meal prepping can be beneficial for everyone. Whether it be for busy students commuting to and from classes all day, or employees working nine 9am to 5pm jobs, meal prepping saves time, boosts health-value, and provides reasonable portions of food specifically fitting your dietary needs.
Unlike packing a generic brown-bagged lunch, you don’t need to prepare each meal every time you need it. Generally, people choose a day to cook all of the food at once, and after portioning out everything, they are left with 4-8 meals ready to grab and go. This eliminates the stress of having to take time out of each morning to pack up a days-worth of food or cutting your breaks short to run and eat out.
It’s also a very healthy habit to pick up. With prepped meals, you are less likely to pick up an unhealthy, yet convenient burger from McDonalds or some other restaurant, because you’ll already have a meal of higher-quality food ready for you. You also avoid over-eating on certain nutrients (like crazy serving sizes of pasta) because you have complete portion control. If you want to start cutting calories or reduce a specific macronutrient in your diet, you pretty much get to design how your total caloric/macro needs are divided up amongst each meal.
I generally use Sundays as my meal-prepping days. After I buy 8 meals worth of protein, vegetables, lipid, and carbohydrate, I come home and cook them all in bulk. While I boil chicken (try not to gag), I roast my vegetables in the oven and throw in 2 cups of rice in the rice cooker. After everything is done cooking, I divide everything up into my desired portions in Tupperware, and I just stick them in the fridge. Obviously 8 meals only cover Monday through Thursday for lunch and dinner, so I restart me prepping the day I run out of meals. You can also prep your breakfasts and snacks, I’m just not that fancy.
Meal prepping, while it takes time and practice, is a great way to improve your eating habits by providing yourself with meals in advance so that you don’t risk skipping meals, buying something unhealthy, or overeating. It’ll give you more time during the day to focus on other matters instead of coming home or getting on lunch break and realizing that you need to feed yourself. Life is hectic enough, getting in a healthy meal shouldn’t be one of them.