Meal prepping has become incredibly popular over the last few years, and typically involves dedicating one block of time for preparing an entire week’s worth of meals.
Advocates of this approach claim to gain a huge amount of extra free time, and an easier path towards achieving their dietary goals too.
What are the pros and cons of this latest meal planning phenomenon though?
In this article, we’ve provided insight into both sides of the coin, and also included some tips to help you get started.
There are some fantastic websites that are dedicated entirely to meal prepping, and we’ve also included links to some of our favorites at the end of this article.
Pros of Meal Prepping
There are negatives to meal prepping, but for many people they’ll be outnumbered by the positives.
First and foremost, you’re saving on time.
By dedicating one day a week to prepare all of your meals, you’re condensing the time you spend cooking.
You’ve also got all of your planning out of the way in one go as well – and that time quickly adds up.
All of this careful preparation leaves you free to put your feet up at the end of the day, or spend your evening time doing whatever you like to do to unwind.
It’s also possible to save quite a bit of money by creating a seven day meal plan in advance.
As you’ll be buying the items in greater bulk, you’ll likely notice a reduction in your weekly shopping bills.
Finally, if you’re trying to cut unhealthy food out of your diet, you’ll find it a lot harder to deviate from the goals you’ve set yourself.
It’s a lot easier to avoid temptation when you’ve done the hard work in advance, and simply need to focus on eating whatever you’ve prepared.
Cons of Meal Prepping
By far the biggest problem with meal prepping is that you’re committing – with most plans – to eating the same thing on each day throughout the week.
Prepping this way also requires a certain amount of commitment to see the planning and execution through.
If you’re the kind of person who takes comfort in a tasty meal at the end of a hard day’s work, you might feel a little weary by the time you tuck into the third or fourth portion of it.
If this proves to be the case, you might find it better to focus on mass-preparing one particular meal, such as breakfast or lunch.
Most of us have a tendency to stick to the same sort of food for these earlier meals, and so it’s less of a grind to enjoy them this way.
If you’re ready to dive into the world of meal prepping, you’ll find some dedicated resources at the end of this article.
Here are some extra tips that will help you get started though:
Invest in a Slow Cooker
Considered by some to be something of a relic from the 1970s, slow cookers have been making quite the comeback in recent years.
The convenience of using these appliances certainly can’t be underestimated when it comes to meal prepping either.
Rather than having to slave over a number of hot pans, combine ingredients, and clean up endless bits and bobs, they allow you to get the whole job done in a relatively passive fashion.
Just get up on Sunday morning, throw your ingredients into the slow cooker, then let it do all the hard work throughout the day.
By the time Sunday evening rolls around, all you have to do is divide the cooker’s contents up among your containers, and get ready for the week ahead.
If you’re just starting out then this is probably the most important “hack” you can work into the process.
All you have to do is plan your meals, gather the ingredients, and then do minimal prep for the big cook.
Buy the Right Storage
The exact storage items you buy will depend on what you want to achieve, and how many days’ worth of food you want to prepare.
Whatever your goals, we recommend investing in high quality, lidded containers that are designed to be leak-proof.
It’s also worth investing in containers that nest neatly together if they’re available to you. This will leave your kitchen looking a lot less cluttered!
This one goes without saying but you’ll need to be pretty well organized to make this work.
It’s best not to overwhelm yourself at your first attempt though.
Either commit to prepping a few complete days of food, or focus on one particular meal for each of the seven days ahead.
You’ll likely find breakfast and lunch easier to get started with, but if evening time is more precious to you then by all means focus on dinner.
Set a Firm Schedule
Work out which day you’ll find most convenient for meal prepping, and then write it down in the diary.
Once written down you’ll find it much easier to stick to your commitment, and less likely to be tempted away by more enjoyable social opportunities that come up.
If you buy your food online, it’s also worth getting it delivered on the same day you plan to cook. That way you’ll be motivated to see the job through.
By doing these things you’re more likely to at least give this kind of endeavor a good go – and avoid wasting ingredients if you’re the type of person who gets easily distracted.
Buy Big – Eventually…
One of the big advantages of meal prepping is that it allows you to buy goods in bulk and make some serious savings in the food budget.
Don’t rush into this until you’ve tried out a few suitable recipes though.
Once you know you’ve found a meal that you can enjoy for at least several days in a row, consider making bigger batches of it.
If you dive in blind, you’re much more likely to end up with a lot of wasted food.
If you’re up for both the challenge and the convenience of meal prepping, there are some great websites dedicated to the process.
Here are some of our favorites:
Meal Prep on Fleek – A large collection of recipes, with plans designed for specific dietary goals.
Project Meal Plan – Recipes, guides and templates for getting your planning schedule together.
Work Week Lunch – More recipes, guides and tools to help you plan an entire week’s worth of meals.