I first learned about the concept of weekly meal prep from my bodybuilding friends. They would post pictures of their stacks of Tupperware and their eating schedules. They would laude the benefits of the every few hour eating with their little containers of perfectly portioned out food. I thought that was a bit over the top, a bit too retentive.
Then I began to realize that it was actually the perfect solution to my nutritional needs. So, I jumped on the #mealprepsunday bandwagon and started spending a few hours on Sunday preparing my breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week.
The first time Jesi and I spent our Sunday preparing our food, it was just short of a kitchen disaster. It took us WAY longer than all the sites we studied said. We used EVERY SINGLE pot, pan, dish and cutlery item we had. It took us equal time of cleaning afterwards. At first I thought, NOPE this is a disaster and bodybuilders are nuts. But by midweek we realized how much time we saved AND that we were staying on track nutritionally.
The second week went a little smoother than first. We have now done meal prep for almost two years, and it has been a huge saver of time and budget. And we have also learned to be super creative in the kitchen have experimented with fresh items we never thought we would eat. Also, we have learned through proper portioning of our meals we have a better sense of proper portion sizes in restaurant food.
To break it down a little bit further, some of the major benefits of meal prep include:
Keeps you from cheating!
We have found this to be the case because when we plan out our meals, that is exactly what we buy at the grocery store. Nothing extra and no sweets, as a result we don’t have things to snack and munch on. Also by having meals planned out and prepared we don’t come home from work or the gym famished and too tired to prepare something healthful. Meal prep truly takes the thinking out of our daily meals.
This may not be true for everyone, and it certainly wasn’t true in the beginning when we had to purchase things we didn’t have in the pantry or while we experimented with different recipes. But by planning out meals we don’t need to run out to the grocery store multiple times a week. We are also not eating out in restaurants as much because we know the food is already ready for us, we just need to heat it up.
The biggest saver though is that we aren’t throwing away unused groceries. Everything we buy has a specific purpose.
Ginomous Time Saver!
Not only do we stay on track nutritionally, but taking a few hours on Sunday means an exponential amount of time saved during the week. This time saved can be time better spent at the gym, studying or doing domestic stuff that always manages to get in the way of healthy eating. Or as we like to say, just plain old adulting gets in the way of the fun stuff in life.
Most importantly, we aren’t eating dinner super duper late at night because food is already prepared for us when we get home. I know personally, eating a meal super late causes all kinds of stomach issues and results in me waking up the next morning feeling blah.
Helps to maintain fitness goals!
We all know that nutrition is the key component to successfully reaching our fitness goals; whether it be completing a marathon, getting a PR in the weight room or reaching a goal weight. By simultaneously planning your meals and your fitness plan for the week you will ensure that all your nutritional needs are met whether it be a rest day or a gym day. If you track your calories in either MyFitnessPal or OnTheRegimen you will notice that you are consistently hitting your necessary macros of the day. This consistency will let to massive goal gains while reducing your weight gain.
Also it helps ensure that you are eating your largest, most calorically dense meal in the middle of the day. Which goes hand in hand with the time saver aspect, not only are you not eating super late at night you also aren’t eating a super heavy meal a couple hours before you go to bed.
Meal Prepping Gives You Variety!
This may seem contrary to what you think….how can there be variety when I am planning out every meal down to the weighted ounce? But you will be surprised! We have some basic go to items for breakfast but we rotate through our options for lunch and dinner on a pretty regular basis. Also, using seasonal fruits and veggies helps to spice things up a bit. Truth be told, I am the child of a man that literally ate two peanut butter and strawberry sandwiches on white bread for lunch everyday for 40 years so I’m ok with monotony. However, my wife on the other hand is a little bit more adventurous.
Pinterest has been incredibly helpful in finding recipes that can be made in large batches and that stay fresh through the week….while delicious the avocado egg salad looks DISGUSTING after about two days in the fridge. For the most part anything made in a Crock Pot is a winner!
It’s A Great Way To Make Fitness And Nutrition A Family Event!
Jesi and I have found that creating our weekly meal plan together makes it even more fun! We take turns picking out recipes and then prepare them together. If you have a family, its also a great way to get the kids involve in picking out healthy recipes that appeal to them. Additionally, it will teach them skills on budgeting, cooking and preparing food.
Taking part in the online trend of #mealprepsunday may not result in gaining Arnold size muscles, but the gains in your fitness goals will be comparable. Check back tomorrow where I will share some of our favorite recipes and more tips on making your #mealprepsunday smoother!