Why Meal Prepping is So Important, And How to Start Doing It
How many times have you skipped lunch on a brutal day at work, run an errand and then returned home to think about what to make for dinner? If you’d prepped your meal at the start of the week, you’d have taken your pre-proportioned lunch with you to work, and returned home to a healthy, pre-planned dinner.
Everyone should practice meal prep, not just bodybuilders. Planning what you’ll be eating throughout the day or even over the week will have benefits that are worth the discipline, the same as it is with workouts!
Benefits of Meal Prepping
- You save time: If you’re working out and trying to follow a strict regimen of pre-workout and post-workout meals, then you have a lot to plan. Instead of planning your meals at the start of every day, why not do it for the whole week to save time?
- It’s easier to eat right proportions: If you already have your meal proportioned in a container, you’re unlikely to take second helpings. Bodybuilders will find it’s very convenient to pre-plan healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners whether they are trying to build muscle, lose weight or maintain.
- You avoid eating convenience (read junk) food: We avoid planning meals because we think we understand food. Then we get hungry, and end up reaching for the most convenient food. We may end up speed-dialing our favorite pizza place or wolfing junk food in the fridge to kill hunger pangs. Meal-planning prevents these lapses in our diet.
- You don’t need to cook all that often: With your meals pre-planned, you only need to cook once. This doesn’t mean you spend all Sunday cooking 21 meals for the week. Most people pick one meal a day – usually the one that is hardest for them to handle during the week.
How to Start with Meal Prep
You’ll have to discover your own meal prep style. The same routine doesn’t work for everyone. But here are some tips to get you started.
- Pick a day for prepping: For most people, it’s Sunday. The entire family is home and can help, too. You could also split the week’s prepping over two days – Sunday and Wednesday work for many people.
- Start slow: Don’t start by preparing all the week’s food. Start with three meals. Use a calendar to visually map it out for you.
- Pick which meal to pre: Decide whether you want to prep breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you don’t have a family to think about, you could start by planning for breakfast or lunch. Planning dinner makes most sense if you have a family to care for as well.
- Pick recipes wisely: Start with healthy recipes you already know. Of course, you’ll need to think about your macronutrient goals – that is, how much protein, carbs and fats to take. Use a kitchen scale to measure, and balance ingredients.
- Pick the right containers: Proportion meals in proper containers. Don’t just throw everything together in Tupperware containers, or your foods will cross-contaminate each other and become an unappetising mess. Use BPA-free, airtight containers with divided airtight sections for best results. You could just microwave before eating.
- Focus on simple meals: Pick a simple ingredient like chicken, since it’s easy to freeze and store and can be cooked in endless ways. With a little multitasking, you can easily whip up three chicken lunches in a day, some fruit for dessert and great-tasting crockpot dinners to enjoy the coming week.
Meal prepping doesn’t have to be tedious. With a little practice, eating right and healthy will become a breeze. Of course, you could also try out some meal prepping services that are available for bodybuilders.