In 2019, US consumers reported spending an average of $8,169 for food alone. Of this, 56.8%, or $4,643, went toward food at home. By contrast, they spent a staggering $3,526 for food away from home.
35 Benjamins for restaurant meals, fast food, and takeaway is a lot. More than that, such food products often contain high levels of added sugar, fats, and calories. All those extras can pile up, leading to weight gains, or worse, heart disease and diabetes.
That’s why as early as now, consider the money-saving and health benefits of meal prepping. Preparing your own meals can trim your food costs without sacrificing quality. High-quality, properly-portioned food, in turn, helps you stay fit and healthy.
We’ll cover these benefits of meal prep in more detail below, so be sure to read on!
1. Easier on Your Pocket
The first step on how to meal prep is to create a schedule and list of whole meals and dishes. In doing so, you can gauge which ingredients you need the most (in terms of quantity). By knowing this, you can save quite a few bucks when you purchase them in greater amounts.
For starters, bulk ingredients often cost less than those sold in smaller portions. Bulk buying also saves you on transportation costs as your ingredients can last you for a few days.
Note that in meal prepping, “bulk” means ingredients that you can use for about three days’ worth of meals. Avoid purchasing more than this, as this is one of the priciest meal prepping mistakes you can ever make. If you buy ingredients for a whole week, you run the risk of food waste as they may become stale or even rot.
Even if you plan to buy frozen goods, it’s best to buy them in five-days’ worth of quantities. You may think that you can live on fish alone for the next seven days, but your taste buds may not. You may even start to dislike seafood if it’s the only thing you eat day in and day out.
2. Saves You a Lot of Time
One of the primary benefits of meal prepping is to minimize food handling. Rather than peeling and slicing ingredients three times a day, you can do it all at once for your next nine meals. You only have to take out your kitchen tools once, instead of every time you whip up a meal.
Preparing meals beforehand also means you have fewer dishes to clean up, so you also get to save water. Plus, it cuts the time you need to go to and fro the grocery.
On that note, one of the easy meal prep tips you can start with is to use a base ingredient that works for many recipes. Lean chicken is an excellent example, as it provides the most versatility among all meats. You can saute, roast, broil, poach, grill, or bake it and add it to stews, soups, pies, and salads.
3. It Makes Eating Healthy Easier
Almost one in three people in the US are at risk of one vitamin deficiency or anemia. Many of these people have a higher risk of undernourishment, but some are also at risk of obesity. Eating a lot doesn’t necessarily equate to proper nutritional intake, after all.
If you prepare your meals, you can be sure that each dish consists of balanced nutrients. You can also avoid making them under or over portioned. Proper portioning depends on age, gender, height, weight, and level of physical activity.
For example, it’s advisable for adults aged 50 to eat 2 to 3 cups of veggies and 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits each day. Their total protein intake should neither be less than or over 5 to 6.5 ounces every day. Consuming three cups of low-fat or fat-free dairy plus 5 to 7 teaspoons of oils is also a way for them to eat healthily.
4. Undisrupted Customized Meals
In the US, 2% of adults describe themselves as vegans. Another 5% say they live a vegetarian lifestyle. On top of that are 3% of adults who follow a “pescatarian” living, which means they eat fish but not meat.
Having such specific dietary requirements are among the top reasons to meal prep. After all, it can be challenging to make meals if you need specific ingredients. Meat may always be available, but this isn’t always the case for organic veggies or fresh fish.
Running out of ingredients can then put you at risk of hunger and skipped meals. These are issues you can avoid if you meal prep for at least the next three days.
5. Helps You Avoid Food Insecurity
Food insecurity occurs when access to nutritious, affordable food gets disrupted. This results in a decrease in food intake or hampered food patterns. It’s a huge concern in the US, having affected 13.7 million US households in 2019.
Money, particularly a lack of it, is the primary culprit behind food insecurity. However, you may also experience this if you live alone, and then you get sick. The same may happen if you’re too busy to get groceries to fix yourself healthy meals.
For these reasons, older adults are often those with the highest risk of being food insecure. The thing is, a lack of nourishing food can make them up to 50% more prone to diabetes. It can also raise their risks for developing problems that impact daily activities by 30%.
Meal prepping helps you avoid encountering such situations. Since you already have meals prepped for the next few days, you can get by even if you fall ill. In case you run out and you’re still sick, you can have a custom meal prep and delivery service come to your rescue.
Start Reaping These Benefits of Meal Prepping Today
As you can see, the benefits of meal prepping go beyond just time and money savings. It also plays a key role in your health and well-being by keeping you well-fed with the right nutrients. Plus, cooking itself may be therapeutic, so that’s another incentive you should consider.
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