Jul 23, 2023

Time to master meal prepping

Aug 5, 2023

Good-quality planning can take the guess work out of meal preparation. (AP photo)

The average household in the United States spends about $9,360 a year on takeout and restaurant food.

Expenditures on eating out jumped from an already steep $922.2 billion in 2020 to 1.17 trillion in 2021. After all, ordering fast food is cheaper than cooking at home and saves time. Or does it?

Despite popular belief, eating in can be cheaper than ordering fast food. Combine that with the long-term health effects that come as part of the package, and cooking at home starts looking more viable than ever. The problem is that the average working American does not have the time to cook at home. This is where meal prepping comes in.

What Is Meal Prepping?

In the simplest terms, meal prepping is the process of preparing the main elements of the recipe you will eat before you plan on eating them. Meal preppers usually get the main ingredients of dishes — from the veggies and grains to the protein — ready for a week of stress-free, affordable, yet healthy eating.

Why Meal Prep

Taking the time to meal prep for the week ahead has multiple benefits. It helps plan and budget meals, saves hours of cooking time, and makes sure you don’t have to take time out of work hours to get dishes ready. Meal prepping keeps things ready to go so healthy eating becomes more manageable.

Planning your meals means only buying what you need — this promotes a more sustainable lifestyle by saving money and reducing food waste. No more grabbing Starbucks coffee for breakfast and greasy fast food on the way to a meeting. Meal prepping means that cheap, healthy dishes are ready whenever you need them.

Meal Prepping Tips and Tricks for The Beginner

Thinking of jumping onto the meal-prepping wagon? Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind as you get started on your journey toward a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle:

Set Your Budget

Budgeting is a big part of meal prepping. A budget will help you plan your meals and maximize your options without going overboard. Certain parts of your budget will go into making long-term or one-time purchases like buying proper food-grade storage containers, planners, and cookbooks. In the short term, you must budget for what you plan on eating throughout the week.

Plan Your Meals

It is best to plan meals with ingredients that fit your budget. The aim is to have balanced, healthy meals throughout the week. It is important to create a diverse meal plan so don’t get bored with your meal options. After all, meal prepping is supposed to be a fun and stress-free option, not a boring one.

Choose a Mealtime

Meal preppers usually pick one meal — be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner — to prep for. You can go all out and plan all of it, but that might take more effort than necessary. So, choose the meal that you find the most difficult to make.

Suppose you have school-going children at home or just go to the office early in the day and are either skipping breakfast or grabbing unhealthy options on the go. In that case, breakfast is the meal you need to prep for. On the other hand, if your work keeps you in the office late and you struggle to make dinner afterward, that’s the meal you should choose.

Set Aside Time

for Meal Prep

Set aside a day and time solely for meal prepping. For most people, this falls on a Sunday. If you are a weekly grocery shopper, you can plan your meal and shop accordingly on the same day. Just make sure to make this a part of your routine. If you don’t, you may struggle to find the time to do it, and it will become another added hassle.

Make Use of Resources

Many resources are available for meal preppers, from grocery delivery options to online cookbooks dedicated solely to meal prepping. So, utilizing research and other resources will make the transition to meal prepping as easy as possible.

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