By Rachel Lessenden
Prepping your meals is a great way to improve your physique and to make your healthy eating enjoyable!
Meal prepping is a game changer in helping to implement healthier eating habits. When you know what you’re going to cook ahead of time there’s less last-minute impulse buys and takeout orders. Plus, when hunger strikes, your meals are ready within arm’s reach so you’re more likely to reach for that than a potentially unsatisfying snack. That means less cravings because you don’t ever get to that hangry I’ll-eat-anything-in-sight mode. When you’re hungry, just nip to the fridge and pull out a ready-to-go meal, heat it up if needed and enjoy! It also helps to pick out recipes you know you like. That way, you look forward to your meals so it’s easy to stay on track with your healthy eating goals.
Getting tenacious with your meal-prep game, not only helps you eat better but it also saves money and reduces food waste. Everything you buy has a purpose so you’re not buying ingredients just because they sound good or are on sale. Everything gets used. This helps negate throwing out food that has spoiled later.
The biggest benefit of meal prepping is that it saves time. If it’s not convenient, it’s harder to stick with. There’s no more stress and time wasted on a weeknight figuring out what to eat because you’ve already made the food. Try planning out recipes on the weekend based on your schedule for the next week, then shop and cook everything on Sundays. Batch cook things like curries, soups and stews for ease because they’re easy to make a lot at once and they store and reheat well. You can also meal prep fresher things like salads by washing and chopping the vegetables ahead of time. Try packing salads into mason jars because it keeps things fresh all week if packed properly.
Overlapping ingredients is another handy meal-prep hack, choose recipes that use the same ingredient like quinoa, for example, so that you can prepare a batch of quinoa once and use it for multiple recipes. The more simplified your recipes are, the better. Occasionally, mix it up with a more in-depth recipe for fun, but for the most part, there’s no need to overcomplicate meal prep. Even just preparing staples like whole grains, proteins, and roasted veggies for the week makes a difference. Then you can mix and match with different sauces to create a variety of flavor profiles, so it doesn’t get boring throughout the week.
For practical ways to get started, start with the recipes you already have that you like; especially ones that make several servings and store well. Then you can start expanding out to new meal prep friendly recipes. Don’t feel like you have to do everything in one day. You can plan your recipes one day, shop another day, and meal prep the next day. If it feels too restrictive choose recipes that freeze well. That way if you’re not feeling it that day or something comes up, you can save the meal for another day. An easy way to get started is to begin with one meal a week like breakfast. Meal prep some overnight oats or something simple so that you don’t have to rush around in the morning and can sleep in a little bit. You’ll soon be reaping the benefit of healthy and nutritious food on hand whenever hunger strikes.
Rachel Lessenden is the founder and recipe developer of Health My Lifestyle, a plant-based recipe website and meal planner. With a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell and the Center for Nutrition Studies, she aims to make plant-focused eating both practical and approachable. Her healthy eating website can be found here
Ready to start meal prepping? Discover our delicious and nutritious recipes here.