There are many strategies we suggest to make healthy living simpler and stress-free. One recommendation that we always make is to meal prep. Meal prepping can be a great way to begin your health journey, as it’s a way to have nutritious, home-cooked meals on hand, helping to save time and energy during your busy days.
What is Meal Prepping?
Meal prepping traditionally involves taking one day out of the week to cook large quantities of food to have for meals throughout the week. This food is then portioned out into meals that can then be easily reheated and eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. So, instead of having to cook every day, you save time and energy by already having food ready for you whenever you’d like. Now, you don’t have to prepare every meal for every single day of the week. Maybe you prepare dinner for yourself so that when you get home from work you don’t have to cook. Or maybe you struggle with eating breakfast in the morning so you make a recipe that is easy to take on-the-go or when you’re in a rush. No matter what your situation is, meal prepping is a beneficial tool to help with healthy eating.
Why you Should Try It
Cooking for every meal every single day can be intimidating. Meal prep helps to lessen the stress around cooking and eating healthy. This way, instead of having to come up with a new nutritious meal every day, you already have one waiting for you whenever you need it. Meal prepping can also be cost effective as you don’t have to purchase many different ingredients for different meals each day. Meal prepping can also be a great way to learn about portioning your meals, as your portion sizes are already made for you.
Meal Prep Tips & Tricks
While meal prepping can be great to save time throughout the week, maybe you also lack the time to spend a lot of time cooking on one particular day. To save time and effort on the days when you’re meal prepping, we suggest using ingredients such as frozen or canned fruits or vegetables. These ingredients are already cut and prepared, and require little, if any, cooking. Frozen vegetables can be steamed in the microwave, and many canned foods can be eaten as is! Not to mention that these are less expensive and more shelf stable than the fresh stuff. When purchasing canned goods, purchase no-salt added or low-sodium products.
Some people do not like to eat the same thing each day, and we get that! So, maybe instead of taking the time to prepare the same meal to have each day, you prepare individual ingredients instead that can be combined into multiple different meal combinations. For example, maybe you cook rice and a protein source (chicken, fish, etc.) in bulk, then you have a multitude of frozen and/or fresh veggies on hand to make a different combination for each meal. We also suggest taking the time to wash and cut fresh produce, as this makes it more likely for you to incorporate them into meals or to snack on them!
With all of these benefits, give meal prepping a shot in 2023! If you’re looking for next steps, check out some of our free upcoming virtual events, such as our What Diet is Right For You free webinar!
This article was written by Emma Bulan, nutrition intern. Fact checked by Allison Tallman RD.