Meal Prep Mindset
Picture this, going to the refrigerator opening it up and staring idly unable to make a choice. Or sitting at a restaurant reading each menu item constantly and then turning to your friend or spouse or significant other and saying “what are you having”. Or leaving work with a growling stomach but no energy to cook once you get home, so take out, fast food, or prepackaged becomes the go to. It happens constantly the battle between our brain and our stomach, what should we eat, when should we eat, how much of it we should eat, etc. The barrage of seemingly endless questions and answers to something which in its basic form is very simple to answer. We should eat exactly what our body needs to feel energized and healthy. No more no less. While simple on paper the application is abstract and complicated, this is why I decided to list the top 5 benefits of meal prepping and how to avoid the negative stigmas associated with it.
#1 – Decision fatigue
Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. So what does this mean exactly? As it turns out, your willpower is like a muscle. And similar to the muscles in your body, willpower can get fatigued when you use it over and over again. Every time you make a decision, it’s like doing another rep in the gym. And similar to how your muscles get tired at the end of a workout, the strength of your willpower fades as you make more decisions. So simply put by meal prepping you are removing a obstacle on your path to making more important decisions in other aspects of your life. This is seen in all highly successful people across various industries, they typically wear the same clothes, and eat the same foods ( or have some one prepare it) simply to remove the variable of decision fatigue.
#2 – Efficiency
Meal prepping is perfect for busy individuals. Once you get the gist of it, it will be a non-negotiable. After making dinner and cleaning up, do you really want to take everything out again to make lunch? While dinner is cooking, pack food for the next day.
This simple task will help you cut time in the kitchen, and you will feel organized and ready to go for another day of clean eating. Also, don’t be afraid to fill your oven with different kinds of foods at once. For example, you can cook two pounds of chicken breast, three sweet potatoes, roasted vegetables and even eggs all at once.
#3 – Cost Savings
Don’t be scared to buy five pounds of chicken instead of one. You can cook one pound at a time if you want to, and freeze the rest so it will always be ready to defrost. You can freeze fresh herbs, baked egg cups and cooked turkey meatloaf. Always stock up on staples when they’re on sale, such as olive oil, spices and mustard. Not only will cooking your own food save you money; it will save you headaches as well.
#4 – Flexibility
This one may seem counter-intuitive but bare with me. Because you have taken the time to prep things out and you already have a system in place, this means when a pop up office luncheon is announced or the spouse / significant other cooks or orders food. You can simply put your prepared meal back in the fridge or freezer and enjoy the flexibility. Just because you have something prepared doesn’t mean you are forced into a corner, and cant adapt. IN reality the planning and routine will create more time and energy to enjoy the spontaneity of life as it comes your way, without feeling overwhelmed.
#5 – Less stress better mental / physical health
When focusing on healthy weight and muscle gain, you should consider your calories in versus calories out. When you prep your food in advance, it’s a sure way of knowing what you are consuming. Preparing your own meals will give you insight into what a true portion of food is. As we all know, most of the time the food in restaurants, even ‘healthy’ ones, are providing you with a way bigger portion. By paying attention to your own food when cooking, you will be more easily able to identify how much to eat when you’re away.
Remember that you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen for meal prep to happen. Focus on one thing at a time, and nail it before overwhelming yourself with everything all at once. If you want to ensure that your breakfast is a priority, focus on prepping some breakfast items such as egg cups, oats or a pre-made protein shake. Have vegetables pre-washed and cut; and the same goes for fruit. Start small: Once you master one small task, you will feel confident in moving on to prepping meals for an entire day
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