Meal prepping has become quite a popular trend. I personally started getting more into it at the beginning of this year, the start of my last semester of college. I was working two jobs and taking 12 hours of classes – my days started at 6:00 AM and didn’t end until 10:00PM Monday through Thursday. I would go to my internship with OU sports nutrition, go to class, go home for an hour or two, and then go to my tutoring job. My schedule was exhausting and did not leave much room for cooking healthful, complete meals.
So, if any of you have been on the fence about meal prepping – as in if it’s for you, if it’s worth it, what’s in it for you versus cooking every day – here are some of my most noteworthy pros and cons to the meal prepping fad.
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cook free weeks. it’s always been nice that I don’t have to stress about trying to get something cooked up, whether I technically have the time to cook or not. meal prepping makes it so easy to grab-and-go, which gives me one less thing to worry about throughout my week.
more thought-out meals. when I get to think/prep my meals in advance, I notice I take the time to make my meals more complete and healthful. if I’m cooking on or around that period of hunger, it gets easier to rush through the process by skipping sides or opt for easier, quicker meals. whenever I meal prep, I’m much more likely to make sure I have a side planned out, whether it be salad, quinoa, or vegetables, which is going to make for a more nutritious, filling meal.
portion control. meal prepping makes it so much easier to refrain from overeating. Whenever I have everything in one container, it becomes easy to over serve and therefore overeat. however, when I divvy up the servings from the start, I’m not tempted to eat more than I need. portion control is a huge factor when it comes to weight loss, so if that’s a goal of yours, meal prepping would be beneficial in helping you accomplish those goals.
decreases temptation to eat out. it is so easy these days when you’re bouncing from one place to the next to tell yourself “I don’t have the time or the energy to cook something,” and to cave to the mcdonald’s or Taco Bell that’s on your way to wherever it is you’re going. But whenever you’ve gotten all your meals done in advance, your home-cooked meals essentially become your own “fast food,” in the sense that you can go home, throw it in the microwave, and have a quick, good-for-you meal in a matter of minutes. as a result (which could honestly be a pro in and of it’s own) I find it’s so much easier to save money. personally, my biggest downfall is that I’ll buy the ingredients for meals and end up procrastinating on cooking. so now, not only have I spent money on groceries, but now I’m spending even more money on food that I don’t even need.
it’s tiring. it’s tiring being in the kitchen all day cooking and then cleaning the dishes, only to dirty them up again making the next item on the menu for the week. finding the motivation can be tricky. but the exhaustion on sundays (or whichever day you decide to get it all done) is well worth it when you can put your mind at ease about getting to relax in terms of cooking for the rest of the week.
potential boredom. I try and make two different meals a week so I can alternate what I’m eating each day, but sometimes it can get boring eating the same/same two meals for a week, especially if you don’t end up liking something you made as much as you thought you would. one of the most important things when it comes to nutrition is making sure you’re excited about what you’re eating! don’t force yourself to eat super bland foods only to chase yourself back to eating what’s bad for you. look for recipes and make meals that excite you!
hangry. while meal prepping is great for portion control, sometimes you can get left feeling a little hungry after your meal depending on the day or how you divvied up your portions. granted, if it’s a matter of having to consciously decrease your servings to recommended sizes because you know you’re guilty of overeating, you might feel hungry following your meals for a while, but your stomach will eventually adjust to your new normal.
food waste. if you don’t go through it quick enough, it’s possible meal prepping can leave you with some wasted food.
I hope that some of you found this post to be useful. I love meal prepping when I can discipline myself enough to do it. The periods when I meal prep and take the time to put more thought into whatever I’m eating, I notice that I lose weight easier (even though it was not usually my intent for meal prepping in the first place) from the normal portion sizes and more nutrient dense foods I give myself, and I have more energy from not overeating and (again) from eating better foods.
What are your top pros and cons with meal prepping? Do you find it to be worth your time? Leave your thoughts in the comments down below!