It’s true. If you don’t enjoy cooking or if you don’t really know how to use spices (ahem me) then the idea of meal prep can seem like the absolute worst thing in life. But let me tell you, it is not nearly as bad as being ‘Hangry’ = feeling so hungry that you become angry, generally more powerful than regular anger as it is combined with your bodies incessant demand for food. When I am hangry all reasonable thought, patience and desire to make positive food choices flies right out the window.
The reason that I don’t like to cook is because I don’t think I’m that good at it. Growing up that wasn’t something I was really encouraged to do, let alone enjoy. Cleaning though; I could do that for hours and love every minute of it! there is something so satisfying about a clean and organized space, but I digress. Like everything in life, perspective is everything. In recent years I have begun to enjoy trying new recipes and my skills have improved a bit. Once I find a recipe that meets a few main criteria such as (a) it contains ingredients that are clean and recognizable and are items that I have on hand (b) it’s fairly quick and easy and I can actually understand the directions and (c) it tastes pretty good – then I print it off or flag it in a cook book and add it to a master list of recipes I cycle through. It takes some time to generate a good list but once you have one it makes meal planning a lot easier.
My main motivation for meal prepping is to ensure that I always have food options that are nutritious and on plan readily available. I eat every two to three hours to keep my metabolism working hard, which equates to six smaller meals each day. Every weekend I meal plan for the week, make my grocery list and grab what I need. Sometimes I order my groceries online and have even discovered that some grocery stores deliver! I’m a big fan of snacks so I like to incorporate meals that can be put together quickly like veggies and hummus or fruit and nuts. I also have a family to feed and I refuse to make them separate dinners; not only do they benefit from healthy clean meals, but I like to use my time wisely and in my opinion cooking double is completely unnecessary.
Meal prep definitely requires planning and time, but the pros far out way the cons. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily have to be the way you do things. Some people prefer to cook two days a week where they make enough meals for three or four days, others cook a few items in bulk to last the entire week while making a different meal for dinner each night. Trial and error is the best way to get in the groove that suits you and your family best. You need to consider whether or not you are okay with eating the same thing for a few days in a row, if preparing and freezing meals is a better fit, and how you can best balance your time.
You also need to schedule it in like any other appointment in life. I would rather be hangry than have to cook during my “free time”. I generally cook with my daughter around; I put on music and set up activities or toys that she doesn’t typically play with in an attempt to stretch out the amount of time that she will stay occupied. Once a week I bake a protein muffin that I have all week for breakfast, and I cook fish or chicken that I toss into tacos and wraps or salads for lunch. I usually cook a new dinner each night, or every second night depending on whether or not we have leftovers. Sometimes I include my daughter in cooking or baking because I want to teach her and have her grow up enjoying it, but it’s also a good way to spend quality time with her. Other times I do it early in the morning before anyone else in the house is awake, it just depends on the day (and my level of patience). There’s also the strategic use of electronics at your disposal. As a stay-at-home mom who’s training to do a fitness competition, I have to schedule in time to work out too which I typically do at home (with my little sidekick) so I prefer to permit screen time then so that I don’t have to do cardio to the Trolls soundtrack, or while answering a million and one questions.
There is no one way to meal prep, however you decide to do it I’m positive you will find it to be a valuable tool. Meal prep has been a key piece of my transformation journey, give it a try!