Preparing meals has been a trend for the past few years. Meal prep can be observed on Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook, and just about every other social media. With just a click of a button, you can share your plate. What effect exactly does meal preparation have on weight loss? Taking a few hours out of every week to prepare several meals is a small price to pay for the convenience of having ready-made food. Plus, you have the added benefit of adding nutrition to your meals (something most frozen, pre-prepared meals cannot brag about.)
Why should I meal prep?
It does seem, initially, rather inconvenient. Think about it, though. The daily struggle of figuring out what to eat, deciding you’re not feeling up to cooking – to then ordering a takeout. This is how many people find themselves overweight. There is also the added stress of slaving every night, just to make one meal that is gone in minutes. Why do that when you can batch cook all of your meals at once – thus removing the stress?
In 2018, 30.3% of Americans were overweight – and 42.4% were obese. When you consider the cheap and convenient ready meals available, this is hardly surprising. Most of them lack necessary nutrition and are high in sugars and saturated fats. Processed foods are bad for the heart. When doing meal prep, you can be the chief of what goes on your plate. An as easy meal – if not easier – than, say, a cheeseburger without the cholesterol to go with it.
A poor diet can lead to many ailments, such as diabetes, heart disease, tiredness, stress, blindness, tooth decay, apart from affecting us mentally. After all, health and happiness go hand in hand.
What do I need for meal prep?
First off, it is important to consider storage. Reusable containers, glass jars, and Tupperware all make great choices. If you’re eating out of a glass jar, be sure to save it! It is a great way to keep costs low and help out the environment. For a whole week, ensure you have at least 14 containers – of course, you may need an additional 7 for 3 meals a day.
Now that you have somewhere to store your meals, you will need equipment to actually start cooking. A sharp knife is an excellent place to start. When cooking your meals, you will be chopping up meat and especially vegetables. Expensive pans are unnecessary when starting. A cheap saucepan should do nicely.
It is also worth noting that the manner in which food is stored and kept hygienic is just as equally important. The FDA recommends that individuals keep refrigerators at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below (or 4 degrees Celsius.) Ensure that cooked meat is placed above raw meat when on shelves. You don’t want raw meat juice contaminating the cooked goods! Unless you enjoy eating mush, ensure that cooked food is properly cooled before bagging it up. Your stir fry, which you just finished cooking to perfection, could quickly turn in to an overcooked mess within minutes without waiting for it to cool. Patience is key. There are multiple videos online for those inexperienced or uncomfortable in the kitchen.
What should I cook?
Come up with a healthy, varied plan of meals – plan, plan, plan. Whether you’re doing this solo or as a family, it may be worth making a spreadsheet for the cooked meals and ticking them off as you consume them. Perhaps you could even buy a planner online. Take time to consider a diet best for you. What might work for your neighbors, or colleges, may not work for your body. Fad diets may be popular, but they are ineffective in achieving fitness for most people.
When pondering nutrition, you need to look for foods high in fiber, minerals, proteins, and vitamins. Choosing foods you enjoy is also vital. For picky eaters, exposure is a way of getting over certain “fear foods”. Don’t like a salad? Studies in children suggest that it takes 8 or 9 exposures with the food to enjoy it. You may think you dislike many foods, but switching to healthier diet taste buds tends to change. As mentioned, meal prep is the future. There are millions of posts, articles, and guides on meal prep ideas. If you’re trying a keto diet, for example, it is worth looking on keto-specific websites for inspiration. This may sound like obvious advice, but it is critical in coming up with a varied plan. Many people find themselves abandoning meal prep due to boredom and lack of variety. Whether you love or loathe the kitchen, meal preparation can be fulfilling and help you shift stubborn extra pounds.