Updated: Apr 28
Meal Prep is the act of preparing and portioning your foods or meals. Foods can be prepared and stored in the freezer for future use or foods can be prepared, portioned, and stored for use within a week.
Meal planning involves the planning of meals that you will prepare. Preparation includes, but is not limited to, determining what meals you would like to prep, what day of the week you would like to prep, creating a grocery list, determining what day you should grocery shop, and determining what utensils/appliances are needed for your meal prep
Meal preparation is an investment in your health. Currently 42% of Americans are affected by obesity. Unfortunately, almost 50% of Blacks and 45% of Hispanics are obese. Obesity can lead to heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, and some types of cancers. Therefore, it is very important to reduce your risk or to slow the progression of obesity and its complications.
In America, our ecosystem has been tainted with pesticides and genetically modified organisms which has a negative impact on our health and wellness. And our ability to portion control is essentially non-existent. Therefore, the number one reason I promote meal prep is to improve health, reduce obesity, and the complications associated with it. Your health is your most valued asset and meal preparation is one way that you can protect your asset.
You are in control of your food and the contents of it. You control the portion size, the ingredient amount, quality, and content of your food. It removes the guessing and the unknown fears commonly caused from foods eaten at restaurants, since in reality we really do not know what is in their foods, the quality, and the actual portion size eaten.
Time savings that will pay for itself. For those that cook dinner every night, it takes on average 30-60 minutes to cook dinner. And if you add kids into the equation you can tackle on an additional 15-30 minutes. The average meal prep time for most meal preppers is 2-3 hours on one day of the week for prepped meals that last for up to 5 days. Therefore, allocating one day a week for prepping your food will free valuable time throughout the week to do intentional things for yourself and your family.
Cost savings is unmatched. Review your bank statement over the last 1-2 weeks and calculate the amount of money you have spent on take out or eating out at a restaurant. It may surprise you! Planning your meals, purchasing foods, and prepping your own meals will allow you to determine a budget and to stick to that budget. Meal prepping puts you in charge of not only your health, but it helps you budget and manage your food expenses.
Informed decision: Meal prepping takes the guessing out of what you will eat for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. When your meals aren’t planned you are either dotting it to the grocery store after rush hour traffic and then going home to cook, which is VERY draining and time consuming. Or, you are grabbing take-out which can be expensive, un-portioned, processed, and a set back on your goals. With meal prepping, you know exactly what you are going to eat and everything has been planned, portioned, and accounted for.
Requires sacrifice and it can be time consuming: There is no way to work around the sacrifice that comes with meal prepping. You are going to sacrifice time and efforts with meal planning, planning grocery strategies, and the time and preparation required for the actual meal prep day. This often deters many potential preppers from wanting to incorporate meal prepping into their lifestyle. But with every sacrifice there is always a great reward and that reward is that you will have planned, portioned, and healthier meal options which pays for itself.
Meal prepping can be stressful: I personally find myself stressing on prep days because there is so much to be done and I often feel as if I am borrowing time from other pressing matters to cook my meals. But overall, it all works out. I push through to get my meals done and I am rewarded with time, cost savings, and healthier meal options.
You can grow tired of the same meals: Within a week you will likely eat the same thing over and over again throughout the week. I have grown accustomed to this lifestyle, however this maybe a MAJOR drawback for many. There are several things that you can do to offset this which may include mix and match prepping, cooking at least 3 different meals a week, or prepping for two meals each day and cooking one new meal a day. Some preppers grow tired of the same recipes and foods from week to week. The best way to offset this is to try new foods and to not be afraid to be creative.
Spending more money: Some people will save money by grocery shopping and never eat the meals they prepare either because they chose meals they really don’t enjoy or got bored by the end of the week. This then causes them to go out and grab take out which then adds to their food expense. Always pick recipes that you know you will enjoy and plan how you will eat your meals to ensure you avoid waste (which is money wasted).
Mistakes will happen: Understand that with every new adventure mistakes WILL happen. There is no way to work around it; it’s life. Often times the mistakes made with meal prep prevent people from ever giving it another shot. Some people may mess up an entire recipe and have to dump the entire meal which wastes time and money. Some people have cooked too much or too little food which also effects time and money. I recommend that you go into this journey with the mindset that mistakes will happen, and that you will learn from them and keep moving. Do not allow these mistakes to prevent you from attaining a goal of incorporating meal prepping into your lifestyle.
Dive deeper into all things meal prep by joining my Planned Eats Membership. Inside Planned Eats you will find on-demand videos, guides, and tip sheets that will help you learn how to plan and prep your meals. Plus you get weekly meal plans delivered to your inbox along with grocery list and step-by-step instruction on how to cook meals to save time and money. As an added bonus you get access to 50 plus macro- and kid-friendly recipes.
Why should you meal prep?
So you have heard about meal prepping and you would love to incorporate it into your lifestyle, but is it really right for you? Often times we may have the right intention on starting an endeavor, but it may not be best suited for us, our personality, pet peeves, and/or lifestyle. So below list factors that will help you determine if you are ready to become a meal prep extraordinaire:
Do you desire a healthier lifestyle?
Do you mind eating the same thing? If so, meal prepping may nor be well suited for you.
Do you want to save time?
Do you want to save money?
Do you want to reduce your use of take-out or restaurants?
Are you a planner?
Are you open minded and willing to try new things?
Are you a multitasker?
If you answered yes to more than 50% of the questions then meal prepping may be for you. Give it a try, nothing beats a failure than a trier; you have nothing to loose.
Where do you start?
Start with a recipe that you already know. It is easier to master the process of meal prepping with a recipe/meal that you are familiar with. If you try to use a new recipe and start your journey of meal prepping, it may be an overwhelming start for you. So, start with what is familiar and build from there.
Start with one ingredient foods. Examples of one ingredient foods are chicken, rice, and/or one vegetable. Don’t try to tackle a stew, paella, or gumbo for your first merry go round. Those types of recipes call for multiple ingredients to complete the dish and may be overwhelming for your first attempt.
Research new recipes of ingredients that you currently enjoy once you are comfortable enough to venture to new recipes. Be sure that you will enjoy them or else you will waste time preparing a dish that you will not enjoy and it will likely go to waste. In addition to the money lost in wasted food, you will now spend more money to either cook another dish or to grab take-out in place of that meal. There are dozens of apps, websites, and magazines that you can use to easily find recipes that are meal prep friendly.
Are your stressed over looking for recipes for your next meal prep? Let me help, click “Learn More” to join my meal planning membership for access to weekly meal plans and tons of recipes.
What is the meal prep process?
Step I: Find your recipe
Step II: Create your grocery list
Step III: Ensure you have proper tools for meal preparation
Step IV: Prepare food/meals
Step V: Store your food/meals
Step VI: Enjoy
Some people still find the process of meal prep daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With the proper plan, a little motivation, and a little time you can absolutely get it done. I have created a meal planner that can help you plan out your meals and keep track of your progress throughout the week. Sign up now to download your free meal planner now.