The importance of meal prep

three salads prepared for the week

When it comes to your diet, busy schedules and last-minute obligations can sometimes mean that having a healthy, homecooked meal is disregarded as a priority. Reaching for a snack is often more convenient; however, not only do these quick fixes not provide the necessary nutrients for your body, but they can also be more expensive.

Meal prepping is a fantastic way to ensure that you reach your dietary requirements; it increases your awareness of what is going into your body and allows you to stay on track with your health goals. Being mindful of what is going into your body can also help you to establish a better relationship with food, as you begin to develop a better understanding of what makes a good meal in terms of both calories and flavours.

Although setting some time aside at the end of the week to prepare your meals for the next few days may seem like a gruelling task to start with, it will soon become a part of your routine. If you’ve been wondering if meal prepping is for you, find out more below.

Time

Whether you’ve had a long day at work or got caught in the rush hour traffic, arriving home and needing to prepare your evening meal can often leave you feeling uninspired. One of the biggest benefits of meal prepping is the time management aspect. Having a delicious dish ready at the end of the day, which will feed your hunger, is massively convenient and leaves you with more time to unwind, practise a hobby or for socialising.

Although it may seem daunting dedicating time at the weekend to cook your meals for the week, you may soon develop this into a routine. Many people find cooking an act of self-care, as it allows you to work on a skill. Cooking can be a great way to relax and de-stress, as you can occupy your mind for a couple of hours, feeling a sense of achievement once you’re done.

Diet

a variety of jars with meals prepared in them

If you’ve been trying to lose weight, you may find that grocery stores lead to temptation, particularly if you have to walk past an aisle containing chocolate, crisps or something equally as calorific! Flicking through recipes, both online and in books, will allow you to see exactly what each dish you’re preparing contains. So, whether you’re trying to keep your meals low fat, need to avoid ingredients due to allergies or are simply looking to make healthier choices, meal prepping allows you to do just that.

Having each meal pre-planned means that you will be less likely to head to the supermarket for a browse. Plus, with your grocery shopping completed in one day, you will be able to avoid adding those guilty pleasure snacks to your basket. Often, grazing on snacks materialises is due to hunger that you’re unable to satiate until you find the time. Meal prep containers can include different sections to allow you to equally divide your meals up. This helps with portion control and allows you to see how much you’re eating.

Money

Returning home to be greeted by an empty fridge is never a great feeling, particularly when you have a grumbling stomach. However, episodes of this can often result in you heading to the supermarket to select something quick for dinner. Frequent trips to the supermarket throughout the week can quickly add up, with your bank balance taking a beating. Fortunately, meal prepping allows you to organise your meals for the week too for a fraction of the price.

Once you establish meal prepping as part of your routine, you can sit down and assess how much money you have to spend that week on groceries. It also allows you to gain a better understanding of portion sizes and how much of a certain ingredient you need in order to feel satisfied. It is also a great way to cut back on spending, allowing you to add to your savings.

There are lots of different recipes online for you to follow that outline the cost per meal. Websites such as Family Fresh Meals, This Week for Dinner and Meal Plan Addict offer recipe inspiration, allowing you to create shopping lists for the week ahead. Inexpensive options such as burritos use rice, which can be found cheaply in shops, to form the bulk of the meal. You can then customise the recipe to include some of your favourite flavour combinations, vegetables or meat options.