Meal prepping has turned into the latest trending habit for health or weight-conscious people! However, there are still many people who don’t know what meal prepping is or its benefits. In this article, I will go over this great hobby and how it can benefit you.
What is meal prepping
Meal prepping is the simple process of preparing a meal from a recipe. After preparing the meal, meal preppers portion the food off into storage containers. Each container represents a single meal for a day or several days.
If you know how to make good use of leftovers, then you already are halfway there. However, meal prepping is at its best when you are creating food that can be portioned off for up to seven days in the future.
You can meal prep for lunch, breakfast, or dinner. You could even meal prep for all three times of the day. The limits are up to you.
Benefits of meal prepping
Meal prepping is no doubt an expedient way to deal with hunger. Each prepared meal is a chance to avoid eating fast food. While eating prepared food, you also lower the amount of waste you give to the environment. Lastly, meal prepping is great for eliminating temptation. Say you have a set budget that doesn’t allow for fast food. Then a prepared meal will be great to have in order to avoid cravings. The same is true if you are on a diet and need something to eat quickly before indulging in something high in carbs.
Meal prepping also allows you to eat personally cooked meals any day of the week without having to stop and dedicate a lot of time each day cooking.
Is meal prepping worth it?
Some people will find meal prepping unsatisfying. This hobby is great for those who love the simplicity of compact simple meals. When you are meal prepping, it is understood that you may be eating the same thing for several days in a row. If you prefer variety or hate the idea of repeating meals, then meal prepping may not be for you.
If you prefer to maximize your budget and time while also staying healthy without being too rigid, then planning out your own meals days ahead would be great for you.
Most of the time meal prepping is great for a single person. You will find it easier to appease yourself with small containers of food. So, pick your favorite recipe and go on prepping. However, when it comes to families, you may find yourself in some trouble trying to convince several people including children to eat the healthy meals you have prepared.
Ideas for what to prep
Your personal taste and eating habit will greatly affect you meal prep menu and strategy. In the end, it is up to you to make the food work for you over the course of several days.
Ideal food choices:
• Red or white meat
• baked vegetables
• fresh vegetables
• nuts, berries, seeds
Foods not so ideal:
• Soft foods that become mushy when stored
• Items that can be crushed easily like chips
Keep in mind success is all in how you arrange and store the prepared food. If you carefully set a good variety of food in the fridge and freezer with prepped dates then schedule when you will eat the meals, there is nothing wrong with prepping any type of food that will last long enough for you to eat at a later date.
How long does meal prepped foods last
This is a common question, but not one that is easy to answer universally. The longer you have something sitting in a refrigerator the more it will decay over time. How you prepared the food, and in particular, the packaging you placed the food in will all affect its shelf life. Therefore, depending on method of storing, how long the food will last can vary.
Most importantly, keep in mind the typical refrigeration instructions for any typical meal you create through the year. No need to overthink the basics.
Usually more experienced preppers prep meals for around a week out. Pushing past a week may require especial planning.
By prepping week by week, it gives you a full week to not worry about cooking while also allowing you the ability to plan and change course in seven days.
Tips for getting started meal prepping
Keep in mind that starting small is always best. A great starting place is packing up leftovers and taking them to work for lunch. After you do that for a few days and get used to the habit, you can move on to picking a recipe to try to prep for.
It is recommended that you start with one recipe instead of trying to mix and match several recipes together. The recipe should be able to provide you with all your nutritional needs in a single serving without the need for side dishes.
Once you get the hang of things, you can then move on to prepping for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When prepping for multiple meals a day, don’t overdo it to the point you are wasting food. You want to eat everything you prep. Therefore, try to prep three days ahead at first. You could even try to prep for lunch and breakfast but leave dinner a surprise. You are still saving a lot of time and give yourself some freedom to eat something different at night.
If you are looking into meal prepping for diet or weight loss/gain reasons, then there are some formulas you can follow. A basic setup would be a meal prepping that has protein, pasta, and a veggie. If you are into the keto diet then a low carb option would be modest protein, veggies, and some fat like a sauce or oil. Lastly, if you are vegetarian then beans, grains, and veggies may do.
You always modify the formulas by adding your own twist. Remember it is your meal prep. So, as long as you are safe and happy then you have succeeded.
Supplies needed for meal prepping
Containers are going to be your best friend while meal prepping. How big or small the container is will dictate a lot about how far you will go with this hobby.
You can start out with very cheap plastic containers with fitted tops. You want to be able to wash them with a machine, microwave them, freeze them, and toss them about.
When you become more serious, you can begin to invest in glass containers. These containers are usually bigger and sturdier. They are also more esthetically appeasing giving your meal prepping some style.
Bento box containers are good for meal prepping too. However, hot foods or food that will need to be reheated are recommended for these boxes.
Ziplock bags are also a great way to separate snacks from the meal without needing a whole new container.
In the end, whatever you use to hold the prepared meals, make sure it is safe to use and adapts to your needs. A good meal prepping plan keeps in mind all steps of the process: preparation, packaging, storing and finally eating.
The benefits far outreach the downsides of meal prepping if you keep in mind the basics and don’t overthink the process. Also, if you feel overwhelmed maybe give yourself a break and try again at a later date.