Well hello there everyone! Sorry I've been MIA for a couple of weeks, but have no fear, I'm back! (I know you all missed me).....
If you follow my Instagram, @ashleysplate, you would already know that I'm a religious meal prepper. Every Saturday or Sunday, I spend a couple hours in my kitchen preparing for the week ahead. It's been a part of my routine since college and I would probably be perpetually hangry if I didn't meal prep weekly at this point in my life.
While I understand that few people want to take on the task of spending 2-3 hours every weekend preparing food for the week (that's half a season of Black Mirror and quite a few episodes of the Office, I get it), I'm here to tell you it's worth it. I've heard the excuses and the multitude of reasons why people don't have enough time to meal prep, including 'I'd rather take a nap'- which I completely respect. But in all honesty, I think it's important to plan ahead and have some sort of track to follow each week. That's just me though. I take pride in my organization, but for others it's easy to go about the week without much planning or stressing; if you are one of those people, I envy you. My classmate told me that my life is too structured, but can you blame me? Trying to juggle work, grad school, and maintaining a consistent gym schedule and social life is a lot, I need to map out each week. Plus, RP would be an incomprehensible mess if I didn't meal prep and have everything cooked. So for the nonbelievers, I hope I can do some convincing.
It saves you time
Sometimes it feels like I'm in the kitchen for forever on a Sunday. I usually food shop on Saturday morning, workout on Sunday morning, come home and meal prep. My legs get tired, I get hungry and pick at everything I cook, but then I'm done. If I don't go to the gym in the morning during the week, I'll spend about 15 minutes making eggs and sautéed veggies, but that's the extent of my cooking everyday. I literally just grab containers out of my fridge every morning and head out. If I bulk prep, I measure out the food the night before so I have it ready to go in the morning as well. I just have to leave a little note to remind myself 'Don't forget your lunch in the fridge!'
It saves you money
Someone once told me that meal prepping is more expensive. I then asked them how much they spent on lunch everyday: "10 dollars". Well my friend, your lunches for the week cost roughly the same amount I spend on breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks. Soooooo *insert sassy face/hand gesture*. I try to budget roughly $50 per week on groceries at Trader Joe's and as you can see, I buy lots of fresh & frozen veggies, meats, and such. Eating out is convenient, but it adds up throughout the week. If I have to pick up any food throughout the week it may be a bottle of kombucha, deli meat, or a protein bar before my classes.
You waste less food
Meal prepping pretty much forces you to eat all of your food- at least it does for me. I usually end up eating everything that I cook because I need 3 meals a day. Occasionally if I go out for dinner, I might end up with an extra meal that I don't get to finish.
It makes you stick to your goals & eat better
Honestly if you are trying to watch what you eat, having precooked meals at your convenience helps. If you have goals to hit certain macros, or to eat a cup of veggies at each meal, or simply to not skip a meal etc, prepping your meals gives you easy access to make simple changes. Repeating it each day helps with continuity and for me, it has become a habit after weeks of prepping. Plus, if you live with others who don't meal prep or eat similarly, it's a way to hold yourself accountable for the food you eat.
You'll inspire your coworkers and make them slightly envious
I can't tell you how many times my coworkers ask 'what are you eating' or 'it smells so good in here'. Granted, there are plenty of days where I want to eat the school lunch pizza or buffalo chicken. It's pretty cool that some of my coworkers have followed my Instagram and ask me for recipes and tips on how to cook things. Instagram has been a great platform for sharing my ideas and for others to have easy access.
Helps with organization
You don't necessarily have to prep breakfast, lunch, and dinner every week. If you start with small steps, like preparing either one of those meals, it will definitely help you develop a sense of organization and routine. I got used to constantly having prepared food in my fridge. Most weeks I don't prepare a breakfast, and in the past I've bulk cooked grains like rice and lentil pasta to have on hand for dinners.
You'll appear to have your life together
Who doesn't want the satisfaction of feeling put together?
Meal prepping, while the positives certainly outweigh the negatives, can be an imperfect system at times. Life throws curveballs and some weeks it's impossible to eat all of my food, or not resist getting something else for dinner/lunch. Deviating from my weekly schedule does throws me off. Whether it's unexpected plans, a class canceling, etc, these tiny motions certainly derail my mood somedays. Plus, sometimes my body truly craves foods if I'm sick or PMSing, somedays those turkey meatballs aren't satisfying enough. And let's not sugar coat things, sometimes by the end of the week I get sick of my food. It doesn't happen often, but there are weeks where redundancy gets the best of me. I'm not one of those people who are freaked out by leftovers, but I can also see that causing some issues for those of you who are hesitant to start meal prepping.
Nonetheless, this system has created normalcy in my life. It has kept me organized and focused on my goals. Eating right is so important, especially if you're looking to see changes in your body or to feel better in general.
Need some visuals? Look no further!