If you’re following me on Insta and you watch my stories, then you’ll know I’m a habitual ‘meal prepper’. It’s 100% the best way to help me keep on track with my nutrition, and as I’m a huge believer of the generic saying: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”, preparing my food is key for helping me stick to my goals.
I meal prep every Sunday night for a few days, and then again on Wednesday evenings. This is just a routine I have stuck to which works for me and my schedule for work. I actually really enjoy meal prepping now (I used to passionately hate it and dread the tedious weekly event).
Prepping all my food on a Sunday night helps me get into a fresh and healthy mindset for the start of the week; and as silly as it sounds, I feel very accomplished when my fridge is stocked up and organized with wholesome and nutritious meals.
7 Reasons why meal prepping can benefit you
1. HUGE time saver
Yeah – so meal prepping may mean you have to sacrifice a couple of hours or so on a Sunday night… but then you don’t have to think about shopping, prepping and cooking at the end of a long tiring day, and you’re not tempted to rush to the shop on your lunch break to grab an over-priced meal deal (and a chocolate bar or two because your hunger is at a next level). Plus, it frees up so much extra time in the evenings to go to the gym, meet friends or just go home and chill. Personally, after a 9 hour day at work, sitting in traffic for hours and going to the gym at peak times, the LAST thing I wanna do when I get through the door is start preparing and cooking food …and I definitely don’t feel like doing a sh*t tonne of washing up either! 2. Saves so much money
It’s an absolute joke how much some places are charging for something that would cost a tiny fraction to make at home. I’ve seen some places charge as much as £5 or £6 for just a sandwich, wrap or salad! If you add a drink and a snack onto this, you could be spending like £10 a day just on your lunch. Also, it seems to be even more taxing on your purse if you’re opting to eat healthy. These tiny fruit pots with about 5 grapes and 2 strawberries are something stupid like £4, when you could buy a 2 huge punnets for the same price. If you want to save money (and who doesn’t want to have more money?), then you really should start meal prepping; and you’ll be surprised by how much extra cash you save! The same goes for dinner too – ordering food or buying something last minute from a shop is just adding unnecessary £££ to your outgoings (and probably unnecessary lbs to your waist too!!).
I’ll make a shopping list *more like a mental shopping list as I pretty much buy the same sorta things each week*, so this way I know exactly how much food to buy and how long it will last me.
3. Prevents you from ‘cheating’ on/ not sticking to your diet
This is probably the NO.1 benefit of meal prepping for most people! Personally I feel like when I’ve dedicated so much thought, time and effort into making my meals healthy, it feels even more counterproductive to arbitrarily eat rubbish. And again, it also stops you from grabbing the most convenient foods when you’re starving, without giving its nutritional content any consideration. Plus, if you’re making sure your meals are nutritionally balanced with good sources of proteins, fats and carbs, this will keep you satiated and you won’t ever get to the point where you’re beyond ravenous.
By contrast, if you’ve ever struggled with any kind of disordered eating or ‘fear of foods’, not prepping your meals could take you down the opposite direction and end up causing you to avoid eating altogether. Regrettably I have been there and done that!
When I didn’t used to meal prep, I would find myself stuck with nothing to eat, and with 0 healthy options around; so instead I would just avoid food altogether. I went through a phase of doing this a lot at uni, and would just spend all day with no food because I hadn’t bothered to dedicate time to meal prepping; and I didn’t want to eat anything ‘bad’.
This basically just meant I felt awful all day with 0 energy; and my efforts in the gym were just being thrown down the drain as my nutrition was beyond poor. This couldn’t have been more counterproductive to all the hard work I was doing in the gym. No wonder I used to walk around feeling like I’d been hit by a bus due to my muscles not recovering!
Moral of the story: even if you’re the sort of person who refuses to touch anything regarded as ‘unhealthy’, meal prepping can still benefit you immensely!
4. Gives you something to look forward to
Lets all be honest, food is such an important part of our lives and it’s something we NEED; so we might as well make it as enjoyable as we can! Most people look forward to going out for food or going to their favourite restaurant to eat… so why not make your everyday meals just as satisfying and delicious. Before I was a good cook (if I do say so myself), I wouldn’t really appreciate or look forward to the meals I cooked because they just weren’t that enjoyable. However, now I know how to make food taste good, sometimes I would actually prefer to eat a wholesome nutritious meal made at home, rather than going out to eat.
So making some of my favourite foods to eat everyday; whilst knowing it’s also helping me achieve my health and fitness goals is just a win-win! Good food can make a lot of people V. happy so I think making yourself a tasty nutritious meal can often give you a little ‘pick me up’! …And being completely honest, I think I’d be extremely miserable and unhappy if the food I was eating was boring and unpalatable! 5. Helps you to eat more nutritious foods, packed full of vitamins and minerals – and less unnecessary crap
I used to work in Tesco….and I would spend alot of time at work reading the ingredients on the labels of different types of food (I used to get very bored ha). I was pretty shocked at the number of ingredients in something as simple as a chicken sandwich. Just for your reference, here’s a list of the ingredients printed on the back of a ‘meal deal’ chicken sandwich:
White Bread [Fortified Wheat Flour [Wheat Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin (B3), Thiamin (B1)], Water, Salt, Yeast, Wheat Gluten, Spirit Vinegar, Emulsifiers (E471, E472e), Vegetable Oils [Rapeseed Oil, Palm Oil], Sugar, Flour Treatment Agent (E300), Palm Fat, Wheat Starch] , Cooked Chicken Breast (29%) [Chicken Breast (98%), Salt, Cornflour] , Pork, Sage and Onion Stuffing (17%) [Pork (48%), Breadcrumbs [Fortified Wheat Flour [Wheat Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin (B3), Thiamin (B1)], Salt, Yeast], Dried Onions (16%), Pork Fat, Seasoning [Fortified Wheat Flour [Wheat Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin (B3), Thiamin (B1)], Salt, Dextrose, White Pepper, Spice Extracts [Black Pepper, Mace, Pimento], Sage, Parsley], Water] , Mayonnaise (11%) [Water, Rapeseed Oil, Cornflour, Spirit Vinegar, Salted Pasteurised Free Range Egg Yolk [Egg Yolk, Salt], Thickener (E440), Dijon Mustard [Water, Mustard Seeds, Spirit Vinegar, Salt], Sugar, White Wine Vinegar, Concentrated Lemon Juice]
I’m pretty sure If I was to make a chicken sandwich at home, I wouldn’t be putting half as many ingredients as this! It’s just packed full of E numbers, added sugar, salt and fat and just unnecessary ingredients.
By prepping your own food (even if you do make a chicken sandwich), you’ll know exactly what’s in it, and you can ensure you’re using fresh, healthy and wholesome ingredients. I base my meal preps around a variety of vegetables; so I know I’m getting a plethora of vitamins and minerals. I try to incorporate as many different colours of veg as I can to ensure I’m getting a range of different nutrient profiles. Also, it looks pretty and more appetising when it’s bright and colourful.
6. Improves your cooking skills
It may take some time to start getting the jist of what foods compliment eachother, what flavours are best to use on different foods and the most efficient way of cooking things – but as soon as you’ve got the hang of it, this is a skill you will have forever! It’s actually really satisfying and rewarding to master the art of cooking! When I first started cooking and meal prepping I used to get extremely stressed out and frantic but I genuinely find it really therapeutic and relaxing now haha! and it terms of my ‘skills’, I legit used to struggle to not burn a piece of toast!! Practice definitely makes perfect so don’t give up or refuse to try just because you’re not currently the best cook in the world.
7. Contributes to helping you achieve your goals
This one is pretty obvious but no matter what your goals are: fat loss, ‘toning’ up, building muscle, endurance, or just to be healthier; meal prepping can be tailored to you to help you best achieve your goals.
Once you understand what sort of calories your body requires to help you get to where you want to be, you can ‘customize’ your meals to fit this. Plus, nutrition and fitness go hand in hand… if your nutrition isn’t optimized, your training is likely to suffer too! So if you want to maximize your health and fitness, it really all starts in the kitchen.
Hope this inspires some of you to start optimising your health and make better food choices! Let me know if you’d be interested in a blog post about ‘What I eat in a day’ or my ‘Go to’ meal prep ideas!