Are you super tempted to give meal prep a shot but scared of the thought of spending your Sunday slicing and dicing? Or maybe you meal-prepped before, but as soon as the local salad place released its new fall menu, you lost all motivation to cook for yourself.
We get it, but there are so many awesome reasons to do it. If you need a few reminders (who doesn't?), this list from Stephanie Tornatore and Adam Bannon of YouTube channel FitCoupleCooks (they're also the authors of Healthy Meal Prep) will get you into the kitchen.
1. It saves you money.
Buying lunch at work is the worst: You try to order something healthy, like, say, a grilled chicken salad, and it ends up costing you upwards of $10. Not to mention, many lunch places are known to skimp on their portions, so you paid $10 for a big bowl of lettuce and a few morsels of chicken and veggies. That's what we like to call a #saddesklunch.
You'll also waste less food which means you'll waste less money. If you plan out exactly what you're eating, you won't overbuy at the grocery store. You will cook it, then eat it, and nothing goes to waste. No more tossing moldy food in the bin, which is equivalent to washing your money down the drain.
2. It's not a life sentence of chicken, broccoli, and rice.
Don't settle for the blandest, most boring options for lunch or dinner just because you think they are easy to cook. There are so many meal-prep recipes out there that will get you excited to open up your Tupperware container and dig in. If you need inspo that goes beyond dried-out chicken, check out Healthy Meal Prep, and you'll see you can have healthy versions of nachos (yes, really), pad Thai, fajitas, and lasagna too.
3. It can help you stay on track with your health and fitness goals.
When you come home late from work, you might be tempted to simply make a bag of popcorn before the delivery guy arrives and veg out in front of the TV. But in the same amount of time (actually probably less), you can reheat the delicious food you meal-prepped on Sunday. This tip hits home for those of us who work all day and can't even with cooking when we get home from a long, tiresome workday.
4. You don’t have to clean the kitchen every day.
This is our favorite. Think about it: Since you’ll be cooking all of your meals either once or twice a week, you only need to clean the kitchen a few times a week. That's what dreams are made of, because wiping down the stovetop for the fifth time is a royal pain.
5. Late-night snacking will happen less.
If you plan out your meals to be nutritionally balanced with protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and lots of veggies, you might realize that you feel way more satisfied throughout the day and less likely to nosh right before you got to bed (or get up in the middle of the night to see what the fridge has to offer).
6. It's flexible with your social life.
We want you to stick with it. Most meal-prep recipes are freezable, so if a friend unexpectedly asks you out to dinner during the week, just pop your meal prep in the freezer and save it for another night or for lunch the next day.
7. You can make it work for your lifestyle.
Speaking of flexible: If your family likes to cook and eat together at nighttime, simply prep your breakfast, lunch, and some snacks. Or you can meal-prep an entire dish, but instead of dividing into multiple containers, put it in one, reheat, and serve for dinner during a busy week.
8. You'll save you *so* much time.
You won’t go to the grocery store as frequently, you won’t have to cook dinner from scratch every night, you won’t have to prepare your lunch at nighttime for the next day, and you won’t have cleanup chores every day. If that doesn't convince you, we don't know what will! Of course, you have to spend some time on a Sunday preparing up your meals for the week, but that's two hours max that will make your life blissfully better.
9. It's good for cooking for one or a family of 10.
Many of the recipes in Healthy Meal Prep are prepared in only one or two pots and with limited ingredients, which makes it very simple to multiply the recipe (or not). If you are living alone, meal prep is perfect because you'll cook once and have at least four meals. If you are cooking for everyone in the family, meal prep is perfect because every last drop will be devoured, and that goes back to creating less waste, which should be #goals for all of us.
10. Kids will be into it too.
If you're meal-prepping the kids' lunches for the week, get them involved. You'll be surprised how helpful they can be. Chicken nuggets meal prep is a fan favorite, and let's not forget about the breakfast egg muffins that are ideal for getting the entire family's morning started with a bang. It's time to say good-bye to sugary cereals that make us (and the kids) crash by 10 a.m. And about those chicken nuggets, those are good for your lunches too.
11. You can mix it up.
If you're worried you're going to get stuck in a meal-prep rut of the same food again and again, we suggest preparing one breakfast for the week and three mains. That way, you can cycle the three main meals for your lunch and dinner every day so you don’t eat the same exact meals. You could also prep even more than that (five or six meals) and rotate them. We promise they won’t go bad: Just store them in your freezer until you’re ready to heat them up.
12. Seriously, it can be really fun.
Just because meal prep is our job doesn’t mean we don’t make it fun. And since it's not your job, you can definitely make it fun. Crank up the tunes (we recommend The Beatles), get your roommate/bestie/partner/spouse involved, and time yourself to see how fast you can get it done.
Stephanie Tornatore and Adam Bannon are the team behind Fit Couple Cooks, a successful YouTube channel featuring weekly meal-prep videos. With their simple, unfussy approach to cooking and talent for creating healthy versions of classic comfort foods, they have garnered over 338,000 subscribers in just one year. They are committed to educating, inspiring, and empowering people to make healthy food and lifestyle choices.