Three common excuses people give when I ask them why they don’t food prep are:
“I like variety. I can’t eat the same thing for lunch every single day.”
“I don’t have the time to devote an entire day to food prep.”
“I don’t like cooking.”
“I don’t have a big enough freezer.”
All of which are, of course, lame excuses to mask their laziness…
Instead of coming up with excuses about how time-consuming and boring you think food prepping is, and how much of a mess you’re going to make in your kitchen, stop for a moment and consider about the benefits you will experience from becoming more prepared with your meals: Your health will improve, you might finally reach your body composition goals, and your performance at the gym will definitely sky rocket. And you’ll probably save money, too.
The truth is, I’m more and more convinced that prepping food ahead of time—be it dinners or just lunches for the week—is at the heart of getting people to stick to a healthy diet.
Without prepared meals ready in your fridge or freezer, it can become so easy during your always-stressful work week to stray from your intention to eat well. And before you know it, you find yourself ordering take-out or eating nachos and salsa for dinner because it’s the only thing in your fridge that looks even moderately edible.
“One of the biggest barriers against wanting to live a healthier lifestyle is the lack of preparation,” reiterated Beth Warren, R.D.N in an article in “Self” about food prep.
So it’s time you become more prepared. And when you do, you’ll probably find food prep doesn’t have to be as hard as you think. You don’t even need a whole day. Not even half a day, really. You need time to grocery shop, and then 1 to 3 hours maximum, and you’ll have healthy meals for an entire week or two.
And to make it even easier—if you’re new to food prep—here are 5 tips to help make the experience more enjoyable and efficient:
1. Get a big freezer:
A big deep freeze might be the best investment you’ll ever make…
Food stored in the fridge for days doesn’t taste as good as freshly made food, nor does it last as long. Go ahead and keep a couple of days worth of meals in the fridge, but freeze the rest to preserve the taste and the shelf life.
Freezing also helps if you’re someone who wants more variety and you don’t want to eat the same thing five nights in a row. With a freezer, you can start stock piling meals and then cycling meals from this week with meals from last week and even last month.
2. Blanch Your Veggies (meaning plunge them into hot, then cold water).
Blanching veggies kills enzymes that cause them to wilt quickly. Blanched veggies stay fresher and crispier longer—especially if you’re going to keep them in the fridge for two to three days.
3. Streamline your TUPPERWARE:
If you’re someone who has collected various styles of tupperware over the years and can never find the lid to fit the bottom (probably the same type of people who can never find the pair to their socks), do a complete tupperware overhaul and replace all your tupperware with one style and one size of containers, so all of the lids fit all of the bottoms. It will save a ton of frustration.
Make food prep a social event and food prep with a friend. You’ll be surprised how much faster it can be to have two chefs feverishly working together. Faster, more food, and more fun.
5. Look Ahead to Next Week:
For the sake of saving time later, let’s say you’re making sweet potatoes, roasted veggies and chicken for this week’s lunches. Make extra sweet potatoes that you can pull out next week and pair it up with whatever protein you’re batch cooking the following week. Same if you’re making meatballs this week. Cook extra beef that you can throw in next week’s giant pot of Chili.
At the very least, give it a try. Devote 4 hours a week to food prep, see where you’re at in 2 months time and then report back.