Many people think of meal prep as a lofty dream. It seems like a good idea, but not something they could actually DO.
I get it. The idea of prepping a full week of meals can be overwhelming. I’ve heard all the excuses, in fact, I’ve used all of them at one point or another. Yet, after more than a year of consistently prepping my weekday lunches, I can confidently say that meal prep is key when you’re trying to lose weight or eat healthier.
Guess what else I’ve learned about meal prep in the last year?! My excuses were just lies I made up in my head. Here are some of them and why I’m calling BS.
Excuse #1: I don’t have the time to meal prep
This was a big one for me and something I often hear from people when the topic comes up. I used to have a whole list of reasons why I couldn’t do it, but the thing is, everyone has obligations and a host of things making demands on their time. Yet, everyday people are still prepping their meals. Even if they have 4 kids or work 60 hours a week. Want to know how they make time for meal prep? They plan ahead. For me, Sunday works best. I typically go grocery shopping on Saturday mornings and then Sunday afternoon is when I cook. There’s no “right” day or time to do it, just pick the best one for you.
Once you start doing it, you’ll realize that meal prepping actually saves you time. When you concentrate your time and make meals in bulk, you will no longer have to spend 15-20 minutes multiple times a day prepping your meals or ordering take-out. And, don’t even get me started on how long it used to take to decide what I was going to eat for my next meal. Now, it’s not an issue. Or, it’s an issue I only have to deal with once a week – still a timesaver.
Don’t have an hour or two to dedicate to meal prep? Make it work in the time you DO have. If I know my Sunday is going to be busy, I will wash and cut the vegetables the night before and store them in the fridge. That way it takes less time when I’m actually cooking.
Semi-related to this, I often prep my weekday dinners before going to work. I work late, which means I don’t typically get home until after 7 pm. I’m also an early riser, so I like to go to bed as early as possible. This doesn’t leave much time to make dinner during the week. My solution? You guessed it – meal prep. If the dinner I’m planning for that night involves a lot of vegetable chopping (let’s be honest, it usually does), I will set my alarm 10 minutes earlier so I can chop the vegetables before I leave for work. When I get home, all I have to do is heat the oil and throw them in the wok. See? Easy.
Excuse #2: Meal prep is expensive
Yes, I thought so too. It can seem easier to spend a little money each day going out to lunch rather than spending a large amount of money once a week on groceries, but, in reality, going out each day adds up. Don’t believe me? Try tracking the amount of money you spend on lunch each week. You don’t have to be exact, just get an idea. Unless you are eating fast food every day (which I’m assuming you aren’t if you’re trying to lose weight and eat healthier), then chances are you end up spending much less with meal prep.
Another meal prep bonus? If you made it, then you know EXACTLY what’s in it. Trust me, after working in the restaurant industry, I am very aware that most restaurants add ingredients to dishes that aren’t on the menu and you wouldn’t normally think of. It’s not because they’re trying to be devious per say, but they’re trying to improve the taste profile to make you want to come back.
Excuse #3: I don’t know how to cook/what to make
Nope, you don’t get to use this excuse either. My mom is famous for her hatred of cooking. She doesn’t measure things, thinks you can sub out ingredients if they are the same color, and once blew up pea soup in the kitchen when I was younger. It’s safe to say that no one “taught” me how to cook. Yet, I still manage to prep my meals every week. How did I learn? YouTube and Google were my teachers. I’ve looked up everything from how to cut an onion to what is a garlic press and everything in between. Meal prep doesn’t have to involve an elaborate recipe with 20 ingredients and 3 hours of your time. You can put hummus and baby carrots in multiple containers for a weekly snack and count it as meal prep. See? Done.
Now, what to make? The internet and millions of food bloggers have made this part much easier than it used to be. Chances are you can type your dietary preference (i.e., gluten-free, vegan, etc.) and the words “meal prep” into a Google search bar and you will get hundreds (if not thousands) of ideas.
Other places for inspiration? Instagram, Pinterest, and Foodgawker are all great options. Or, you know, Diet Confessionals isn’t a bad idea either. Just sayin’…
If you’re the kind of person who can’t eat the same thing multiple times in a row, start building up your meal prep reserves. Every time you do meal prep, prep one extra meal than you plan to eat and store it in the freezer. That way you have a variety of meals ready when you need them. This is also helpful if you are traveling. When I come home from traveling the last thing I want to do is cook. If I have meals already prepped in the freezer I don’t have to worry about it and I can get back on track that much faster.
Hopefully, I’ve shot down at least one or two of your excuses thus far. Have any more? Leave them in the comments below and I will let you know why it’s BS and how to make it work anyway.
Looking for tips to make meal prep easier? Look here.