We all have those days -- when our busy schedule makes cooking a healthy meal seem impossible. Meal preparation -- or “meal prep” -- refers to making meals ahead of time and storing them for quick cooking later in the week. It is a great way to prevent skipping meals on a hectic day and avoiding last-minute trips to fast food restaurants.
Meal prep can also improve your health. Rather than stopping at a restaurant for a quick bite, gain control over the ingredients and portion sizes of your meals with a healthy, balanced dish. Better management of meal times can also prevent overeating later in the day. Not to mention, cooking at home is easier on your wallet than eating out.
Rushing to prepare a healthy meal -- or any meal at all, for that matter -- can cause stress for some individuals. Instead of spending time in front of the stove after a long day, meal prep can allow you to relax with family and friends at the dinner table or dedicate more time to your workout.
Meal Prep Tips:
Utilize social media and online sources to find healthy meals best suited for make-ahead preparation. Check out ohmyveggies.com and buzzfeed.com for great vegetarian meal prep ideas.
Coordinate weekly meals with ingredients that can be cooked together for faster meal prep. For ideas, try http://workweeklunch.com/recipe/roast-vegetables-meal-prep/
Not all foods can be cooked in advance, but simple preparation such as chopping vegetables or measuring out ingredients for the meal can save time later on.
Meal preparation does not have to be a one-person task, include the whole family in the process. Having multiple hands on deck will not only save time, but it can help children become familiar with ingredients and develop cooking skills needed to make healthy choices in the future.
Written by: Leslie Lewis, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
Source: Harvard School of Public Health