I should start this article with the statement that I am in no way a nutritionist or expert but I have seen a great deal of benefit to my daily life by following the principals and structure of meal-prepping and if this article does anything, I hope it encourages you to seek more knowledge on the topic!
Meal-prepping has become a big part of my life in the past 5 years and once I started doing it I was shocked at how easy it was and how immediately I started benefitting from it. The strange part is that people look at me like I have three heads when I ask them if they do it too. I always hear the same arguments,
“I don’t have the time.”
“The same meal day after day? I couldn’t do it!”
“I’m not a bodybuilder.”
Quite often, people will look at meal prepping and think that it is far too specialized, time consuming, and difficult to maintain in their every day lives. I’m going to show you why that is a false narrative and how meal prepping can change your life for the better!
IT SAVES TIME
This might be the most common complaint and reason people don’t meal prep, they insist that they simply do not have the time, nor the energy to organize 5-10 meals. Well, what if I told you that since I started meal prepping, I actually spend LESS time cooking, cleaning, preparing meals and I spend virtually no time thinking about what I should eat.
How can that be? Cooking 5-10 meals at once must take forever!
Ask yourself how long you spent preparing/cooking your dinner last night (or at least the last time you cooked a meal)… 30 minutes? An hour? What if I told you that it takes virtually the same amount of time to cook 10 meals as it does to cook one?
(No, there is no magic bullet or secret kitchen trick.)
If you are cooking spaghetti, what do you need to do? Boil/strain the noodles, and cook the sauce (for this example we’re talking good old fashioned store bought sauce) - if you are having a meat sauce, you need to cook the meat but all in all, three steps and you’re done.
So! what is the difference between boiling a single plate’s worth of noodles and a whole pot - the answer is negligible - just don’t watch the pot or it will never boil anyway. (Teehee)
Cooking the meat sauce is really only the difference in size of pan and your ability to stir evenly. Let’s just say for argument sake that cooking 10 plates of spaghetti takes double the time that one plate takes… so for easy math, one hour becomes two… BUT if you cooked that same plate of spaghetti every night for ten nights, that’s TEN hours to two… Are you seeing what I’m getting at?
IT SAVES MONEY
Another complaint people have about meal prepping is that buying a bunch of groceries to cook at home can be expensive, certainly if you are buying the highest quality ingredients (which you should, but I’ll get to that later). This may be true but if you find yourself going out to eat every day for lunch and ordering SkipTheDishes every evening, then something tells me your pocketbook would rather the one trip to the grocery store.
10 home-cooked meals will almost always be cheaper than 10 fast food combos.
This also ties in to the previous point, most people end up going out for lunch/dinner, because they don’t have TIME to make food - well, strap on the feedbag ‘cause here comes the spaghetti train! … Maybe a mixed metaphor but it works, and your wallet will thank you!
IT HELPS LOSE WEIGHT
Now, I’m sure you are thinking that the only way this can be true is if you are meal-prepping dry grilled chicken and boiled broccoli. Hold the salt, fat, flavour, happiness, etc etc. Well, I am very happy to say that this is also a incorrect assumption. The concept of weight loss is a basic numbers game, calories in vs calories out. Now, every body is different and everyone has different goals, but the fact remains that eating less calories than you burn in a day will result in weight loss over time. It’s as simple as that.
So, how does meal prep account for this if you are still having your favourite meals? (Spaghetti anyone?) The rationale is similar to how it saves money, a home cooked meal with store bought ingredients will almost always be of higher nutritional content than its nearest fast-food competition.
One serving of Spaghetti with meat sauce with be roughly 670 calories - let’s say 700 for good measure. One big mac meal is 1225 calories. ALMOST DOUBLE. Just to be fair, that total includes a medium soft drink, so add a coke to your spaghetti and you are still only 840 calories. You’ve saved 385 calories and that’s WITH a coke! If you’re able to substitute that for a water, now you’re close to 525 calories less than what ol’ Ronald wants to feed you.
IT SAVES YOU FROM TEMPTATION
This point is directly related to points 1, 2, and 3. A big part of why we end up making bad choices when it comes to food is really the agony of choice and the ease of the instantaneous. Looking into a fridge that is full of delicious ingredients waiting to be made is still just one more thing to do after a long day at work and all you want to do is get your Netflix on. A major benefit of meal-prep is that it is available at a moment’s notice - it’s hard to argue with a perfect portion of delicious spaghetti that you have “nothing to eat.”
(Okay, okay, maybe this week we’ll have salmon.)
In addition to the meal prepping I always recommend dishing out the portions into Tupperware containers that are sized appropriately for individual meals. This can also help avoid any over-serving that can happen when the hunger takes hold.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is crucial that you meal prep food that you ACTUALLY want to eat, you don’t have to be a dry chicken and broccoli martyr to enjoy the benefits of meal prep.
IT GIVES YOU ENERGY
We’ve spoken about the caloric benefits of meal-prepping but it’s important to consider what it is IN the food that we eat and how the nutritional makeup of this food results in how we feel. It’s not just about feeling full (although a meal high in lean protein will definitely result in that feeling of fullness). These nutritional contents are known as Macro/micro nutrients but for ease of this article, let’s focus on the “Macro” side of things.
All food that we eat fits into three categories: Proteins, Fats, and Carbohydrates (and no, carbs are not the enemy). A lot of food contain two or more of these components. A healthy diet will be balanced by a certain distribution of these macro-nutrients, broken down as follows: 45–65% of your daily calories from carbs, 20–35% from fats and 10–35% from protein. These ranges are generalized but function with the understanding that most of our calories will be carbs, and a roughly equal part fats and protein.
Maybe that is all very technical but the benefits of keeping this information in mind the next time you meal prep are immense. The body functions like any other machine, when given the proper fuel it can thrive and operate at a high functioning level for long periods of time.
If you have meal-prepped correctly, you will see these benefits because a consistent diet defines how your body operates and therefore defines your life.
So go on, the spaghetti awaits.