Meal prepping isn't just for bodybuilders, figure competitors or athletes. It's a simple way to get control of the way you eat and the way you feel.
I stumbled upon meal prepping by necessity as a high schooler.
With swim practices before and after school, it meant that I had to pack meals and snacks for the full day, including a second breakfast, a couple lunches and enough snacks to fuel a growing and active body.
Later in life, once the rabid commitment of sport had tapered off, I found myself still meal prepping without really understanding why.
If pressed on it, I would say that I liked the control it offered me. It wasn't until a girlfriend started meal prepping her whole week of meals at a time that I started to really see the power in it.
Here are some of the powerful reasons you should meal prep, regardless of where you're at in life:
1. You simply eat better.
By far the biggest takeaway from meal prepping is that you dictate your meals.
We all struggle with making better food choices, especially when it is crunch time, and our hunger can overpower even our best sensibilities.
After a long day of work, often the last thing I want to do is spend half an hour putting together a healthy meal. But if it is already cooked up for me, then, well, the healthy choice becomes the convenient choice.
2. You save money.
The first time you hit Costco to buy bulk eggs, chicken, veggies and microwavable Tupperware containers, you'll scoff at this. I won't deny that the first grocery bill after getting my meal prep supplies wasn't cheap.
But as the process gets smoother, and you catch yourself going out for food less and less, the savings will start to pile up in a hurry.
And who doesn't like more of their own money?
3. You can solve your “problem” meal.
Many of us struggle with a problem meal. It's the one we eat when we're crammed for time and low on willpower. For me, it's always been dinner.
It's that whole tired, "it's the end of the day" thing.
The justifications for hitting the local take-out place are strong.
"I deserve it," I tell myself. "You've had a long day."
For others, it's a lunch hour that is well short of an hour. And for others, it's breakfast.
While it won't completely remove the cravings to “treat” yourself, planning and prepping that problem meal can help force you to make better food — and ultimately life — decisions.
4. It makes everything easier.
The top benefit my girlfriend reported about her meal prepping wasn't the money or the weight lost.
It was not having to trade a series of texts and phone calls every evening when we tried to figure out what we were going to eat for dinner, which makes sense.
Having your meal ready to be unpacked and quickly nuked is one less thing you need to throw your decision-making and willpower reserves at.
5. Meal prepping infects the rest of your life with better choices.
There's something remarkable that happens when you start planning and prepping your meals with intention instead of just eating according to flash cravings.
And this positive change starts affecting the rest of your life, too.
You drink a little more water. You find you have more motivation to work out.
You get up a little earlier in the morning. You feel a little more optimistic about things.
When we make positive change in one big area of our lives, it tends to bleed over into the rest of what we are doing.
Will meal prepping magically get you out the door at 6 am if you aren't naturally a morning person? Probably not, but it will help encourage you to get there by reminding you that you can make and stick to good choices.
6. You save time.
The original reason I was meal prepping while in high school was partly out of necessity, but I also did it because it would save me time.
With meals ready, I could just stuff my face whenever hunger hit (which, at 16, was every 20 minutes).
The saved time was readily noticeable. While my friends hemmed and hawed in the cafeteria lineup or drove back to the house to get food, I could crush a meal and get some prime studying in.
When you consider that a week's worth of meal prep means you have 21 meals ready to rock and roll, think about all of the time you are saving not only in trying to figure out what to eat, but also in the process of actually making it as well.
With all that bonus time, you can focus on how to make working out a habit, work on that next awesome blog post or simply crush some more Netflix.
In other words, you can be a shade more awesome than you presently are.