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It’s Monday morning, the start of a new week. You glance at the clock, you have one hour to get dressed, grab breakfast, and get to work. You’re up for this; it’s your routine, and you’ve been at it for a few years. Since the pandemic is over, you no longer work remotely, so you’re going into your office. The traffic, as expected, is annoying, but you’ve got this figured out too because your first stop before jumping on the freeway is to stop at the drive-through coffee shop for your first cuppa of the day, and since you’re a healthy eater, a cuppa oatmeal too. Now you’re set for the morning crawl. You switch on the news radio because you don’t want to be the one in the office that doesn’t know what’s going on, but as you adjust the radio, you spill your coffee, not on you, but all over the passenger seat, ughh. Then as if that’s not enough, your phone rings just as you’re spooning the food. It’s your bestie, and you want to get in a “good morning;” you push the answer button while simultaneously trying to get a mouthful of oatmeal, but the spoon misses your mouth and drips down your shirt. Great! What else can happen?
What if you could rewind and return to the weekend before this miserable Monday started? What if you wake up on Saturday and, after a leisurely breakfast, you walk over to the local farmer’s market? You notice the gorgeous day, the wind blowing, making the walk not hot or cold, but just right. As you approach the market, the laughter, chatter, and music make you smile. You pause to pull out your grocery list. On it are fruits, veggies, whole grains, and chamomile tea leaves. You spend the next two hours greeting friends, listening to vendor recommendations, and just hanging out and having a good time. Saturday happily slips away, and now it’s Sunday afternoon. Before shopping, you made a list of the meals you planned to prepare for the week. They don’t call you the meal prep guru for nothing. That’s right, that is who you are because you deserve it.
Meal prepping is one of the best ways to show yourself some love and appreciation. It is an opportunity to plan and ensure you have whole, healthy foods on hand to stay nourished throughout the week. It is the ultimate form of self-care that puts you in control of your health and well-being.
Meal-prepping supports mindful eating. It prevents impulsive food choices, such as ultra-processed food that has been highly altered to ensure a long shelf-life. These foods contain calorie-dense ingredients, high salt levels, bad fat, refined sugar, and few nutrients. They are designed to be convenient, soft to chew and swallow, extra flavorful, cheap to produce, and highly profitable for their makers. They are food engineering at its worst. There continues to be a debate on what constitutes ultra-processed food; the consensus is a long list of ingredients, most unpronounceable and baffling, is the leading indicator of ultra-processed food.
Hot dogs, sweetened cereals, soda, coffee creamers, chips, cookies, candy, store-bought fried chicken, and flavored granola bars are a few ultra-processed foods. All of them and others can be replaced with homemade foods that taste better and are healthier.
So, you’ve decided to prep meals. Let’s first establish your “why.” It is a worthy idea and works if you do it consistently. Is your decision financial? That’s important because even though most fast-food restaurants brag that their meals only cost a few bucks, your homemade meals will cost less, which includes fewer fuel costs for stopping at the fast-food outlet and saving time.
Are you deciding to meal prep because you want to control what you eat, including freshness and ingredients? Making your own power bowl means you have the power to regulate its ingredients. That’s even better because studies show there can be as much as a 400-calorie difference between a fast-food power bowl, for example, and the one you make at home.
Meal prepping is a great way to take control of your health and wellness. It helps you manage calories, maintain a desired weight, and save on the medical costs associated with obesity, heart disease, malnutrition, and other inflammatory diseases. A homemade meal is a straightforward way to ensure you’re eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods that help you function optimally and live longer and well throughout your life.
It shouldn’t be the norm that you will need pharmaceuticals to live as you age.
Meal prepping allows you to plan for the week, so you don’t have to worry about what to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
There is a rhythm to meal prepping, which gets easier with practice. First, make sure you know what you like to eat, so you consume the food you’ve gone through the effort to prepare. Do you like sauteed, roasted, raw, one-pot meals, fresh salads, or whole grains?
Next, make a meal plan for every meal you eat for one week. This can be fun. Use your imagination and utilize ideas like Meatless Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, One-pot Thursday, Fish-on-Friday, Left-over Saturday, and Simple Sunday.
Take stock and make a grocery list. The initial list might include condiments and spices that you’ll use for a number of meals.
Make a budget; meal prepping is supposed to be cost-effective too. The average cost of a week’s groceries for a single adult is $65 – 90. Most grocery stores have cost-saving loyalty programs that reduce your grocery bill over time. Shopping at farmer’s markets towards their closing can also yield cheaper purchases.
Shop, stock, and stick to the list. Grocery shopping with a list helps avoid impulsive buying and saves money. It ensures you have the ingredients needed to make meals throughout the week. A grocery list also prevents overbuying and wasting food.
The different methods of Meal Prepping include:
Meal prepping makes it easier to eat healthy food and pays off over time; it is a way to demonstrate that you are your most precious asset. It is a great way to show yourself that you deserve to live a healthy and thriving life and are worth taking care of.
Now let’s try Monday morning again. You wake up and glance at the clock; you have exactly one hour to dress, eat breakfast and get to your office. You dress and leisurely eat the steel-cut oats with blueberries, chia seeds, and walnuts you prepped the night before. You enjoy a cuppa while perusing the news on your tablet. You add your meal-prepped lunch to your backpack and head out the door with enough time to get to work without rushing. You no longer have to endure the lingering smells of food in your car or stains on seats or clothes. You have a great day because you feel energized physically and mentally, and in the evening, you enjoy the cassoulet you meal prepped while reflecting on how much money you saved. Aww, you are mastering the art of self-care.
Andrea Breaux is the Founder of Healthy Healing Eats. She writes about food-as-medicine and earth-friendly lifestyle practices. Find her weekly blog, recipes, and products at healthyhealingeats.com.
The Food-as-Medicine philosophy is based on the belief that whole food is a traditional remedy with the therapeutic power to improve and maintain one’s health. The philosophy has been around for hundreds of years.Read More