From experience, I've found it's more important than ever to meal prep. We may not be on the go, but healthy habits are not easy to keep without consistency and structure. Keep reading to find out why you should meal prep, even while stuck at home!
Check these easy recipes out!: https://thealmondeater.com/easy-vegan-meal-prep-bowls/
1. It helps you maintain routine
Staying in a routine is necessary during a time like this. It provides stability—a sense of normalcy. Plus, once our typical lifestyles are restored, it’s one less thing we'll have to worry about back easing into—it will become second nature. If we stay in our routines with healthy eating, it’s likely we will also continue other healthy habits like exercise and self-care practices.
2. It assures nutritional adequacy
Getting enough of the right nutrients is essential!
When we meal prep, we create balanced meals. When we eat balanced meals, this leads to nutritional adequacy, which minimizes cravings.
On the contrary, when we eat unbalanced meals (i.e., a piece of plain toast for breakfast, a piece of chicken for dinner or some mac & cheese—with nothing else to balance it out), this leads to nutritional deficiencies, which lead to cravings. Unfortunately, cravings are typically not for health foods—they’re for junk food!
Note: Our bodies cannot properly digest and absorb food unless the food is eaten in a balanced fashion, with other food groups, which is why incorporating more than just protein or just starches at a meal is vital.
Additionally, part of balance is portion control. When we eat healthier foods, we know when to stop because these foods are voluminous—full of water and fiber—so we feel a sense of satiation. When we eat more processed foods and/or more calorie dense foods, our bodies have a challenging time detecting when we feel full because the stretch receptors in our stomach are left inactivated since the volume of food is inadequate. This will cause hunger to linger, which can be a potential trigger for overeating [of the not-so-optimal food choices].
Typically, when we meal prep, we portion our meals out already, anyway. However, when we do not, we are likely to eat from a package, not realizing that package contains more than one or two servings.
3. Convenience foods are not ideal
Most of us have the instant gratification mindset, so you may have the intention of cooking healthy meals while at home, but you may find you're so hungry when mealtime rolls around that you don't have the patience or energy to chop and prep the food, and instead, reach for something pre-made.
Now, of course there is a time and place for convenience foods, and some are healthier than others. However, food we make in our own homes will always be healthier because we know the ingredients we are putting into our meals and, therefore, our bodies. Home cooked meals have fewer preservatives, less sugar, less salt, less fat, etc. Ideally, convenience foods should be reserved for when we do not have the option to cook.
When we neglect to meal prep, we are most likely going to be eating these convenience foods on the regular, though. These may include instant potatoes, mac & cheese, freezer meals, pizza, sugary cereals, chips, bakery items, etc.
Studies show, we are more likely to eat the first food we see when we open the cupboards and/or the fridge. With that in mind, fill up your fridge and cupboards with healthy foods, such as sliced veggies, fruit salad, loaded salads and other balanced meals, that way you have no other option but to eat the best fuel.
When you choose to fill up with WHOLE foods—that quality fuel source—you won’t have as much room for these convenience (junk) foods!