Whether a full-time professional, stay-at-home parent, grandparent or student, meal prepping can be for you. Transitioning from school to professional life, I was faced with many challenges, namely managing a constant need to cook multiple meals a week with few hours to do so. When I was first introduced to the concept of food prepping, I was unsure it was for me. However, it turned out to be a great fit and solution. As I continued to immerse myself in the lifestyle, I found I was saving time and money while strengthening time management skills.
What is it?
Food prep is the practice of preparing whole or portioned meals in advance. Cooking meals ahead of time eliminates the mid-week, stress-fueled “what do I make for dinner” rat race. It can also provide quick and easy meals after school for the kids or healthy, nutrition-filled lunches at the office while saving a buck or two.
How does it work?
A winning food prep strategy begins by establishing a strong foundation comprised of three items: budget, time and nutrition goals.
- Create a reliable budget for groceries to provide a guide for a well-balanced shopping list that does not break the bank, but also allows for a few indulgences.
- Schedule a weekend afternoon to prepare whole or portions of meals for the week. Time can be difficult to find, but by investing time up front, you will have more time during the week for when you really need it.
- Know your daily and weekly macronutrient (proteins, carbs, fats) requirements. This knowledge will help build meals designed to keep you healthy and fit.
Why should I try it?
There are many benefits to food prepping. Here are a few I have experienced:
- Enjoy more time during the week for things that really matter such as family
- Actively manage health and nutrition goals by preparing ahead of time
- Save money by cutting back on eating out
- Experience stability even with chaotic schedules
Can I afford it?
Food prepping aids in many areas, but one that stands out is budget management. I know exactly how much I have to spend on groceries and how much food I need to come home with, but sometimes the budget does not match the shopping list. Sam’s Club has a rich history of offering many items in bulk sizes at lower prices. Buying in bulk is key to long-term food prep success because it takes away the financial stress that may come at the register. It can also help prevent food waste by placing the excess amount in the freezer to preserve, until it is needed – then thaw. Aside from the financial win, buying in bulk means less trips to the store and even more time saved.
How do I get started?
- Set a budget – Know how much you have to spend and how you can maximize your wallet’s impact at the store by buying in bulk. Keep a list of previous weeks budgets and compare at the end of the month to see where you need to adjust.
- Set a schedule – Block out an afternoon or evening and dedicate it to food prepping. This can be on the weekend or a weekday, depending on your schedule.
- Set your meals – Know your macronutrient intake requirements and discover how buying in bulk can help accomplish those goals. Be sure to include proteins, carbs, fats and veggies.
- Start small – Begin food prepping by cooking with familiar recipes and build from there. When you feel confident in these recipes, feel free to expand.
- Be adventurous – Try experimenting with new and exciting foods. Instagram and Pinterest are perfect for finding quick and easy recipes – Did you know that Healthy Living Made Simple is now on Pinterest? You can also view a variety of our recipes online here.
- Give back – Others are on this journey with you and would love to see your success and mishaps too!
Whatever stage of life you are in, food prep can be beneficial for you! It can be a nutritional foundation for building health and fitness goals around, or simply a time-saver for those extra-crazy days.
Send us your stories on how food prepping has impacted your life to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also tell us about any exciting recipes we should try and we’ll share them with everyone else.