You may have seen popular fitness athletes video logging their step-by-step meal prep routines for the masses, and everyone seems to be on board with this trendy ‘meal prep Sundays’. However, some are asking: to get the best out of your diet, do you really need to prep your meals?
Yes, maybe. Meal prep is the concept of planning your meals ahead of schedule and cook it in batches. It is currently a fad amongst the busy, health-conscious millennials as it can shave off and save a lot of time from all the daily cooking and running off to the nearest local supermarket to grab some of the important items and ingredients you carelessly forgot. More importantly, prepping your meals effectively prevents you from skipping your meals or dining out frequently, and may just be the ideal solution to help you stay on your weight loss track and shed off some kilos.
Furthermore, preparing your own meals offers you greater tailoring control of the portion sizes, as well as the ingredients that go into them. And since the meal prepping process required you to plan and determine what you are going to eat ahead of time, this thought process allows you to make more conscious and nutritious meal choices in the long run. This is an excellent way to steer yourself clear of unhealthy temptations, such as snacking for dinner instead of having nutritious food or simply punching the digits on your phone for takeout when you are overwhelmed or beat from a full day’s work.
The Different Methods of Meal Prep
Contrary to popular beliefs, there are several ways for you to prep your weekly meals, which does not necessarily involve taking up your entire Sunday afternoon clanging the pots and making a mess in your kitchen. Some of the most common meal prep techniques include:
1. Batch Cooking
As the name suggests, batch cooking involves whipping up a large amount of your chosen recipe dish and thereafter, split them into batches of smaller portions to be frozen and consumed for the next week or so. This method is popular for lunches and dinners.
2. Make-Ahead Meals
These are essentially whole meals with a shorter lifespan that are not ideal to be frozen, but kept refrigerated and subsequently reheated come meal time.
3. Individually-Portioned Meals
Exceptionally convenient for quick lunches, this method involves whipping up fresh meals and dividing them into individual grab-and-go rations to be consumed over the course of the next couple of days. Play around with the different prepping methods and stick to one that complements best with your fitness goals and daily routine. For example, if you are someone who is looking to restructure your morning routines, then the make-ahead option for your breakfast meals may work out best for you. On the other hand, if you are someone who comes home late or has limited time in the evenings, then storing a batch of cooked meals may just do the trick. Here’s a tip: always start by opting for the most appealing method before gradually experimenting with the other options to find out for yourself which method suits you best. In addition, you can shed off valuable time by preparing the ingredients you plan on using for your meals before the actual cooking process to cut down your time spent in the kitchen.
Prepare A Shopping List
Grocery shopping can be a huge time killer. Preparing a list of the items and ingredients you need for your meal prep that is organised by the supermarket departments effectively prevents you from doubling back to a previously visited aisle and can dramatically reduce the time you spend at your favourite local supermarket. Additionally, making your grocery shopping a weekly affair or utilizing a grocery delivery service are some of the additional ways for you to cut down on shopping time.
Stick to A Schedule
Not many among us, men and women alike, look forward to spending hours in the kitchen to get our meals prepped with much enthusiasm. It is only natural considering that the fundamental incentive for meal preps lie in the reduced amount of cooking time. So, find yourself a suitable schedule and stick to it religiously. Having a mental plan of when to head out for your grocery shopping and when to sweat it out in the kitchen getting those meals together will help you configure a regular routine and help you to better manage your time once you get more efficient.
For example, you can choose to block out your Saturday evenings for grocery shopping and dedicate two or three hours of your Sunday mornings for your meal prep. Or you can have both the marketing and prepping done on the same evening.
How you go about your schedule is entirely up to you. The idea is to clamp down on specific times and disciplining yourself to adhere to them. This way, you are efficiently streamlining your thought and decision-making process and freeing up mental space for other important and pressing matters on hand.