Are you unsure if meal prep is worth the hype? If you're on the fence about meal prep, here's a list of the top 10 benefits of meal prep!
What is meal prep?
Meal prep is any preparation of food or a meal in advance of it being served. In my world, meal prep usually refers to preparing 3-7 days worth of food at one time. There are several ways to meal prep, but it's essentially taking the time to prepare foods earlier to save time later. Whether you spend 20 minutes or 2 hours preparing for the week, any time counts!
Meal prep can look like packing leftovers, portioning out a casserole for lunch, or roasting a bunch of vegetables to use later in the week. For example, think of packing all of your lunches on Sunday afternoon so they are ready for your work week. It's that exact thing, but with flexibility for all your upcoming meals. There are several awesome benefits of meal prep and if you're stuck, here there are so many meal prep tips to get you started.
Benefits of meal prep
There are so many benefits of meal prep! The reason why a person chooses to meal prep varies. If you're on the fence about meal prep, here are a few reasons how meal prep can benefit you!
- Save money
- Save time
- Reduce food waste
- Feel prepared
- Create more healthy options
- Stay on track with your goals
- Improve cooking skills
- Develop a routine
- Reduce stress
- Ease in the grocery store
By taking the time to make a meal schedule for the week, you are able to figure out what foods you have, what you need, and what you want to make. Having a plan helps you avoid making unnecessary purchases at the store, to not waste ingredients, and to use what you already have in your pantry. Making a schedule for the week and preparing meals ahead of time can also decrease the temptation to eat out.
If you're able to make a meal schedule for the week, you can then take some time to see if there's preparation you can do ahead of time to get ready for the week. Are there any meals you could make in advance? Any fruits or vegetables you can wash and chop for quick access? Even taking a few minutes to prepare can make a big difference! It can save time to cook, do dishes, and clean up multiple meals at one time rather than doing all of those tasks everyday. For example, I like to make my breakfast and lunch at the same time the night before so I can quickly grab and go in the morning.
Reduce food waste
By preparing meals for the week, you decrease the chances of wasting food. If you purchase the ingredients you need and spend the time making a meal for the week or even washing and chopping the food so it's ready to go, you're more likely to actually use all the foods you have. Planning and preparing meals helps you to use what you have, save money on what you need, and use all the resources you have available.
When you make a plan and prepare for the week, you are prioritizing organization and preparedness, which can help you physically and mentally. Physically, this is helpful because by meal prepping, you can have several nutritious foods to get you through the week. Mentally, this is helpful because making a plan can reduce stress and anxiety. You can avoid the negative feeling that might come up if there's pressure to get dinner ready or go out to eat because you already took the time to make a plan that you can stick to! A helpful tip when you're prepping is to make a plan that is realistic for you in terms of what you're able to prepare. The more realistic your plan is, the more attainable it will be for you to follow. You'll feel so good when you're able to stick to your plan!
Create More Healthy Options
A huge benefit of meal prep is the opportunity to create nutritious meal options. By taking the time to prep healthy foods, you will have more healthy options to choose from throughout the week. This is so helpful when you feel tired or hungry, because nutritious foods will already be ready to grab and go. You will be less likely to reach for the processed packaged foods or go out to eat when you know you already have healthy and delicious meals waiting for you in the fridge!
Stay on track with your goals
This goes hand-in-hand with creating more healthy options for the week. When you're able to meal prep nutritious options for the week, you will have more healthy options to choose for your meals. This can help you stay on track with specific goals you have. Whether you're trying to eat healthier, lose weight, gain muscle, or just have a healthier lifestyle, incorporating nutritious and healthy foods can keep you on track. Meal prep can help you meet these goals in an attainable and sustainable way!
Improve cooking skills
When you choose to meal prep, you are committing to spend some time in the kitchen. For some people, this can be intimidating, especially if you're a beginner to cooking and are overwhelmed by the skills of the Bon Appetit chefs! By choosing to cook one recipe or chop a few vegetables, you will have the opportunity to practice your cooking skills! The more you practice, the more confident you will feel in the kitchen and the easier meal prep will become. If you stick with meal prep, you can learn so much about cooking, nutrition, and healthy eating!
Develop a routine
Meal prep can help you develop a routine throughout your week. When you make a plan for the week, you can decide when you're going to go shopping for groceries, when you're going to prepare foods, and when you're going to eat certain meals. Starting a routine like this will help you save money, decrease stress, and reduce food waste. Spending time making certain meals for the week and using meal-prepped foods throughout the week can help you develop habits in terms of when you're going to get meals ready and how you will use them. For example, I know that every night I'm going to get my breakfast and lunch ready for the next day, which is a really helpful daily routine for me.
Taking some time to meal prep can help you create nutritious foods to get you through the week. This is helpful because making a plan can reduce stress and anxiety. It can also save time and money, which can reduce stress, especially as plans change! Having a plan (and sticking to it!) can give you confidence when you're making choices throughout the week. Make sure to create a realistic plan so it's attainable for you.
Ease in the grocery store
When you're able to create a meal plan for the week, you can figure out what you have, what you want, and what you need. This plan will then help you create a shopping list of exactly what you need for the week! Having a shopping list will make your time in the grocery store less stressful because you're be more likely to save time and money by sticking to your list.
I have a few grocery lists I like to use when I'm planning for the week, such as my Trader Joe's Shopping List and Aldi Shopping List.
Want to know more about meal prep?
There are so many benefits of meal prep. Here are a few other resources I've created to help you get started and become a pro:
- Weekly Meal Plan Template: This template is a free, printable resource to help you create an attainable weekly meal plan. Each template serves as a resource to make a meal plan, shopping list, and prep schedule for the week.
- Meal Prep Tips: Whether you're a meal prep beginner or pro, this list of 10+ meal prep tips and tricks can help you quickly and easily prepare for the week!
- Meal Prep for Beginners: This is the ultimate guide to meal prep for beginners. This guide includes tips, strategies, and resources to master meal prep.