Meal prep is everywhere, and unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably seen someone share pictures of numerous containers filled with colorful food on your social media feed. To put it simply, meal prep is a method of planning and preparing your meals in advance.
But more than the convenience that it brings, meal plans are beneficial for your health as well, as a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found it to be a vital eating habit for healthy adults. That said, you can incorporate this into your lifestyle with these tips and tricks:
1. Select Your Meal Prep Style
When it comes to meal prepping, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method. You must carefully choose a meal prep style that works best for your schedule.
The most common method is cooking make-ahead meals, which can be reheated any time during the week. You can also opt for batch cooking, where the meals you prepare are stored in the freezer and consumed the next week. Another way is to prepare ready-to-cook ingredients, so that you can save time in the kitchen and have hot food to eat during mealtimes.
2. Make Your Meal Plan
After you’ve selected which method you want to use to prepare your meals, the next step is to make a meal plan. Careful planning helps ensure that your meals are healthy, cooked, and consumed on the right dates. To do this, create a menu that notes the days you plan on eating which meals, collated in a planner or a piece of paper you can stick up on the refrigerator to see.
This will help streamline your meal prep process, as you’ll be able to allot time for grocery shopping, cooking, and storing. Need a pro-tip? Nutritionist Jessica Sepel shared that you should set Sunday afternoons aside for meal prep, so you can have an easier time preparing the fridge and pantry for the week ahead.
3. Stick to Healthy Ingredients
An essential part of the meal prep process is to consume food that is nourishing for your body, and one of the best ways to do this is to make fruits and vegetables your star ingredients. Parsley Health’s Elisa Haggarty lists avocado and dark leafy greens as some of the best food items to boost thyroid health, which is integral to keeping your hormone in-check. You can also add grapes to the mix, since not only can you store them for up two weeks, but they’re also packed with antioxidants that can prevent chronic diseases.
The more of these in your meals, the better, as having a variety of fruits and vegetables will allow you to fill your body with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Don’t forget that you’re not only preparing what you’ll eat, but you’re also taking steps to improve your health. Try to consult a dietician or do your own research to understand what kinds of nutrients you need to be healthier.
4. Maintain Your Routine
While sorting out your meal prep routine can be easy, staying on track is a different story. You’ll not only have to develop the motivation to pursue this every single day, but also make sure you don’t lose momentum.
To remain on course, you can have themed meals like Taco Tuesdays or Fish Fridays. Or, you can even ask a friend to join you. At the end of the day, what matters is that you remind yourself that what you’re doing is going to help feel much healthier.