How Meal Prepping Saves you Time, Money, and Energy
It’s hard to keep up with the hustle and bustle of everyday activities, while also maintaining a healthy diet. The last thing you want to do when you come home from a long day at the office or class is making and cleaning up a big mess in the kitchen for a single meal.
Meal prepping is not new by any means, but it has become a hot, new trend once again since it makes cooking and tidying up like less of a hassle. You can reduce your last-minute grocery runs and lazy fast food purchases by planning your meals in advance.
What Is Meal Prepping?
Meal prepping is an organized way to prepare your meals ahead of time, so that you won’t have to worry about cooking every single day. Meal prepping allows you to plan your meals out and prepare enough for the whole week in one sitting.
Rather than waking up with enough time to make your lunch before you have to leave home every day, you can just cook all your lunches for the entire week. For some people, this not only saves time, money, and energy, but is a way to properly maintain a healthy diet.
Everyone is susceptible to tempting fast food trips or expensive dinners and lunches at restaurants, but when you meal prep you have the option of eating something easy and close by to satisfy your hunger without going out. Meal prepping starts by grocery shopping for the meals that you want to eat and buying larger quantities to make multiple meals at one time. A good meal prep will generally consist of a main entree and two side dishes, similar to those tv dinners you would eat as a kid…except more palatable and healthy! Next, you cook the meal as you normally would and then evenly distribute portions into reusable jars or containers to store in the fridge. All your meals for the week are ready to go! This can be done for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. It really just depends on your personal preference.
Prepping to Prep
It might seem silly to think that you have to do prep work before “prepping”, but taking time to get organized and ensuring you have all the necessities for your meals will make the process go a lot smoother.
Before you head to the store, make sure to look up your favorite recipes and choose what you would like to eat for the week. Next, make a list of all the items you’ll need to get while shopping. You should reuse the containers you already have at home. f you’re looking to upgrade, though, the most ideal containers for meal prepping will be the exact same size and shape to minimize clutter in your fridge and keep you stay organized.
Does Meal Prepping Actually Save You Time?
Imagine only cooking once a week. With meal prepping you may spend a couple hours prepping meals, but this allows you to have much more free time during the week. Daily errands eat up a lot more time than you might think. By the time you walk the dog, go to the gym, and take a shower half your evening is already gone, then you have to think about making dinner, which can consume another hour or more and the next thing you know it’s time to go to bed and do it all again! When you don’t have to add on cooking to your daily tasks, then you’re freeing up some time for yourself that you otherwise don’t have.
You also only have to a big clean up after meal prepping, saving you time on washing, drying, and putting everything away. After you’ve prepped your meals for the coming week you just have to keep with the dishes you use to reheat your food.
Ways to Save Time While Meal Prepping
Meal prepping already saves you time throughout the week, but to help you speed up the actual process of preparing your food try these tips to save time.
- Take everything out – Place everything you need for your meal prepping on your countertop, so that you won’t waste time searching high and low for that spatula in the middle of cooking. This includes: ingredients, cooking utensils, pots, pans, bakeware, and your storage containers.
- Buy pre-cooked items – You might think this sounds like cheating, but it’s really not. The idea of meal prepping is to have meals ready to go ahead of time, not cooking every single thing from scratch. Buying pre-cooked items will save you plenty of time in the kitchen!
- Double down – While you’re already cooking in bulk, you might as well double it! Let’s say you’re cooking a lasagna…why not make two? Cooking double batches will allow you to stock up the freezer way in advance, and stow away meals for not only the week ahead, but the following week coming up.
How to Save Money with Meal Prepping
When you grocery shop for larger portions you can actually save money in the long run by buying in bulk, rather than here and there. Buying products that can be stored for longer periods of time also helps with saving money as you’re not throwing away fresh produce or food that has gone bad in your fridge. For example: oatmeal has a long shelf life, and can be bought in a large quantity for multiple meal prepping opportunities. For a quick and easy breakfast, oatmeal jars make for that perfect pick-me-up you need when rushing out the door in the morning. You’ll love saving money by not having to stop at the local donut shop and it will help you stick to your diet!
Start by making a large batch of instant oatmeal. Next begin layering ingredients into mason jars, starting with the oatmeal first. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top so it melts into the warm oatmeal. Then finish by adding your favorite fruit, like blueberries or cranberries. Seal the jar lid tight and store in the fridge until you’re ready for breakfast!
How Can Meal Prepping Lower My Energy Bill?
This might sound crazy, but the more cooking you do at one time, the lower your electric bill will be! There are numerous ways in which your energy usage can be reduced by just prepping your meals in advance.
Your dishwasher will be thanking you when you meal prep, because you’re doing less dishes, which leads to less energy consumption. Meal prepping requires you to cook all your meals for the week in one sitting, meaning you’re only needing to use the items once for the recipes you’re making. According to Energy Star, “on average, U.S. households run their dishwashers about 4 times per week, for a total of over 200 times per year.” (1) By simply cutting back on your dishwasher loads, you’ll be using less energy each and every week.
Save with the Microwave
Once all your meals are prepped and ready to go, the next time you want to grab a bite to eat you just need to reheat. Since you’re using your stove top less, your microwave will be picking up the slack, which is a good thing because using the microwave will reduce your cooking energy by as much as 80%. (2) The less heat generated by ovens and stovetops will keep your house cooler in the summer time, thus reducing your A.C. usage as well.