Not in the habit of planning ahead? That may be a recipe for disaster.
Ever fantasize about how much easier life would be if you were a snake so that you’d only have to eat once a week? Just think about all the time you’d save each day not constantly having to find recipes, buy groceries, wash, chop and cook ingredients, and clean up a messy kitchen. Nirvana, right?
The solution you’re seeking is simple: meal prep. Instead of going through the grueling daily routine listed above, welcome into your life the art of planning and preparing some or all of your meals in advance. This could mean making your lunch the night before, cooking in batch, or precooking all your food and portioning it out for the week in grab-and-go containers.
The beauty of meal prep is that it can adapt to fit your cooking expertise, lifestyle and personal dietary needs — and it certainly doesn’t need to look like an artfully plated Pinterest- or Instagram-worthy masterpiece if your skills aren’t worthy of a Michelin star.
“Meal prep is like creating your very own line of microwaveable meals tailored to your exact preferences,” says Gabrielle Fundaro, Ph.D., exercise science professor, certified sport nutritionist and Renaissance Periodization coach. “Many people like to pack all their breakfasts for busy mornings or lunches to eat at the office. Or you can also choose which meals you’d like to prep if you don’t want to take on every meal for the week.”
There are many reasons why meal prep is considered a best practice for those serious about reaching their goals. Emmie Satrazemis, RD, CSSD, nutrition director at Trifecta, names the following seven benefits:
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach or a ‘right’ way to meal prep,” Fundaro says. “Meal prepping is a learning process, and it’s meant to help simplify your routine and lifestyle. It’s a success if you’ve made your diet more nutritious while saving time and money.”
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