Let me just start by saying that if you are a person who loves to cook or someone who relishes in being hyper organized and planned ahead, then this article is probably not for you.
For those of you who are busy and just trying to do better and feed you family healthier meal, this article is for you.
Let’s talk about Meal Prep
What it is
Many people have a fantasy or have been wrongly told that they need to do meal prep in order to eat right and get in shape. Folks hear this all the time. If you don't know what it is then good. No one have lied to you yet.
Meal prep is the act of cooking all of your food for the week and portioning them all into containers, accomplishing this over the course of one day. Typically people will cook all five or six days worth of meat and vegetable on a Sunday and play the tupperware/lid game. If you don't know what I’m talking about, another kudos to you.
Why is doesn't work
Listen, theoretically, meal prepping works. Spend all day cooking and you don't have to do it for the week. You are prepared ahead and shaved valuable time off of your day. All you have to do is stick that box in the microwave and you are off.
Functionally, it doesn't work for most people.
People get bored of eating the same thing every day. By Thursday, you are eating the EXACT SAME MEAL but only now, it's been cold in the fridge for four days. Food get rubbery and BORING.
Part of the joy of eating is being able to have spontaneous meals and decisions. This is part of what makes small rainbows in an otherwise monotonous day. Many of us are working in offices and doing a lot of the same work everyday. You don’t want to be eating the same everyday.
Also, everyone appreciates a freshly cooked meal - or at least one that hasn't been refrigerated for a week. There is definitely nothing wrong with leftovers. But, by the end of the week, these are OLD leftovers. Although I am all for eating largely the same thing everyday, there should always be some variation in your diet.
Eating like this, makes it easy to cheat. On week four of Wednesdays cold chicken and veggies, someone invites you out to lunch. You think you are going to order the meat and veggie plate? Probably not. You are going to get something wild just for the sake of variety. And you going to do it big because you are already off your plan, Right?
Prepping HUGE meals makes it easy to get burned out spending a whole day to cook and pack. It is just not the way everyone wants to spend a Sunday. Sundays are meant to relax and review, soak up those last minute with you family and loved ones and mentally prep for the week. Spending all day in the kitchen making 18 chicken breasts and chopping up 2 kilos of broccoli isn’t my idea of relaxing.
In reality, meal prepping like this is for people who get paid to be fit, and those that take a solace in the organizing and prepping. For the rest of us who don't have to make weight for a fight or bodybuilding competition, who don't have anxiety attacks about being unprepared, meal prepping is a waste of energy.
There are many ways to get over this hump. Having healthy lunch and dinner options actually isn’t that difficult and doesn't take a wealth of energy to execute.
Focus on your eating habits. Stick with the same food over and over again. When you know all you are eating is meat and steamed veggies, or a huge keto salad, you options open and thinking ahead becomes easier. You don't have to start from scratch every time. Get in the habit of eating healthy.
Make two different dishes or a variety of sides when you are going the meal prep route. Keep it a bit fancy and interesting, but make sure you have at least two different flavors going on for the week.
Make an extra dish of a healthy protein source to have in the fridge all week. I have many hungry weightlifters in my house and although I do not meal prep in the traditional sense, I do make a high volume protein dish once or twice a week. Putting some pork in a slow-cooker, hard boiling a dozen eggs or making chili goes a long when when you are come home tired from your day.
Instead of grabbing fast food on the way home, you know you can come home and have a cup of stew to hold you over until dinner time. Alternatively, if you didn't cook the night before, you can pack that stew for lunch.
Always cook for leftovers when you are cooking. If you are grilling some meat, grill enough for two meals. Someone will take the leftovers to work in the morning. I cannot stress this enough. If you are making dinner, make your lunch too! Ok, so it's chicken and broccoli again, but it's not a week old.
Keep nutrient dense snacks in the house at all times. This mean high fat and high protein. Good examples are cheese, nuts, eggs and avocados. Surprisingly enough, all of these things go wonderfully on top of a bed of spinach or arugula. Now you have yourself a keto salad.
Prep ready to cook meals instead of cooking full meals. This means, have a ziplock bag in the freezer of soup fixings or pre cut veggies just to cut down on prep time.Cooking soup is easy at the end of the week is all you have to do is open a bag, dump it in a bowl, add water and hang with the kids. Sunday is a great time to do this. Just pre cut vegetable and stick them in the freezer.
Cooking for yourself doesn't actually have to take that long. The prep time for steak and potatoes is probably 10 minutes. Healthy food usually isn’t that complicated because heating healthy means you are eating whole, unprocessed foods. Dinner should really be more than two dishes really: a source of protein and a source of vegetables. That's it.