If you’ve read PAVE™ the Way for Success for a healthy lifestyle with your significant other, then you know what my #1 rule is: PLANNING. Planning is where we are successful and avoid falling into old habits (or forming less-than-optimal new ones). And there is no greater trend happening right now to promote planning as there is with the Meal Prep Phenomenon. You know you’ve seen it posted on social media – that image your friend posted of their #mealprep meals for the upcoming week, all neatly portioned out and compartmentalized in containers. And your immediate reaction is:
A) Hey! I just did that too!
B) Who the hell has time for this?
C) Why didn’t they make enough for me?
D) How much can I pay them to do this for me?
If your answer is A, then congrats, you’re a loyal reader of Nutrition Nuptials and have your routine down. If you fall into responses B-D, keep reading for how meal planning can fit into any busy life. You’ll find out meal prepping isn’t as daunting of a task with the right tools and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (ahem, ME!) on your side.
The Side Effects of Not Planning
Not planning meals leads to last minute decisions. And usually ones we are less than thrilled about. Picking up take-out, going out to eat, or purchasing any Heat & Eat meal can lead to an increased intake in calories, sodium, and saturated fat, while having a negative impact on your wallet. Likewise, if groceries are purchased and not used, this leads to an excess in food waste (not to mention money in the trash). Shrink your waistline and grow your savings by learing how to plan and prep meals for your household.
What Planning Options are There?
Many companies are capitalizing on this very trend. From subscription-based food prep delivery services to local pre-prepped meal delivery companies, everyone wants to take the “thought” out of planning. But remember while these meals may tout being “healthy”, there is still some caution to be had.
The pre-prepped meal delivery service companies may be putting emphasis on the wrong nutrients. For example, serving excessive amounts of protein with little to no veggies provided. They may not include a full listing of ingredients or an appropriate nutrition label (although new labeling laws will require this to be done in the future). Portions of proteins, veggies, grains may not be in line with the recommendation of 1/4 protein, 1/2 grain, and 1/2 veggies. And at $8-15 per meal, your wallet certainly isn’t seeing the benefits. You’re basically overpaying for a pre-frozen Lean Cuisine meal.
Home-based food prep delivery services, on the other hand, do help take some stress off cooking a meal at the end of the day. Some of the key players in this area include Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Plated. These are subscription-based services that will send you all the pre-portioned ingredients you need to cook up to 3 meals a week for 2 or 4 people, including any meats and produce. Services vary with allowing you to set dietary preferences and choosing recipes/menus, but otherwise there is very little control over the actual ingredients that are sent to you. These services can also range from $9-15 per serving. For a home-cooked meal, that is a lot to spend on making a dinner that doesn’t involve lobsters.
And yes, there is the good old fashioned option of sitting down over the weekend, thinking about what you can make for the week, go food shopping, and making it. But I know that weekends can get busy, or they’re the only time to spend with your significant other, and perhaps you don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen on Sunday to cut down on your time cooking during the week. That’s where some long-term planning comes into play.
Meal Prep with Mandy
I am excited to offer several options for my loyal readers to explore meal prepping that will not break into your time or financial budget. Each of these options offers the benefits of cost, control, and flexibility. Check back this week for new posts discussing meal prep options that I offer.
For local residents of the Jersey Shore, I am doing a series of meal prep workshop at my office located in Red Bank, NJ. We will be prepping 10 meals for you to take home and store in the fridge or freezer for busy nights ahead.
Are you a meal prepper or a meal figure-it-outer? What are you meal prep hacks? Interested in learning more ways to Meal Prep with Mandy?
Sound off in the Comments below!
Share you meal prep skills using #NutritionNuptials for a chance to be featured on my social media sites.