People are changing the way they eat. Current food habits in the UK lean towards cooking more home-cooked meals, eating fewer takeaways, and buying cheaper food. In large part, this is due to concerns over affordability. Other major reasons include a desire to be healthier and lose weight. If these are some goals you’re aiming for, you know they can be challenging to attain if you’re too busy to cook and are on a budget.
Fortunately, there’s a solution: meal prep. It’s a great way to make significant changes to your diet when you’re stuck on old habits and can help you put healthy eating on autopilot.
Ready to get started? Read on to learn more about some meal prep benefits and tips.
Benefits of meal prepping
One of the biggest barriers to a healthy diet is choosing what to eat on the fly. If you buy food on an empty stomach, you may rank taste instead of nutrition, then eat more than what’s necessary. With meal prepping, you’ll have already decided on and cooked your dishes for the week, helping you avoid overeating or making unplanned food decisions. It also helps maintain a regular eating schedule, which is crucial for regulating insulin and cortisol. These hormones impact your energy levels and are also linked to your ability to burn fat.
Meal prepping can also be an excellent tool for weight management. Health-focused weight loss plans highlight the benefits of consuming the right nutrients instead of simply cutting down calories—after all, a bowl of chips and a plate of salad impact your health differently even if you consume the same amount of calories. And because meal prep means you control what goes into your food and how much you eat, you can track nutrients more efficiently. That can help you eliminate mindless eating and encourage you to make mindful and nutritious food choices.
Tips for easier meal prep
Have variety in your menu
Meal prepping may take a bit of exploration at the start, especially if you don’t usually cook. But once you have gathered enough healthy meal or snack recipes, you can cycle through them weekly. You can have a few staples—like soups, salads, or stews—and try something new every week when you feel like it. Having variety in your menu helps keep your diet exciting and fresh.
Invest in high-quality containers
Having high-quality, easily stackable containers suitable for microwaving, freezing, or storing can smoothen the meal prep process and save you a lot of space. They can give you easy access when it comes time to cook your meals on weekdays and are convenient for portioning meals because you can heat the contents straight out of the fridge to eat. Suitable containers also beat other storing methods like vacuum sealing, which can be pricey and rob food of flavor and quality. Choosing quality containers optimal for storage will help keep food fresh throughout the week.
Have meal prep essentials on hand
A fully-stocked pantry can save you a lot of decision-making and shopping time. Healthy staples like oats, brown rice, quinoa, and whole-grain pasta can give you a base for fresh vegetables, meats, sauces, and stews. You can also have dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and honey for topping off healthy snacks like oatmeal or yogurt. Finally, have herbs and spices on hand. This can make it easier to explore new recipes when you can quickly check off ingredients already in your pantry.
Meal prep can be a grounding process to help you better manage your diet. By preparing your food ahead of time, you can have a smooth week ahead without worrying about healthy eating.
I’m Eshé the lady behind the blog. That’s me cooking on the set of The Hairy Bikers. I LOVE food and I don’t mean I really like it. I mean my whole world revolves around it.