As a dental student, I have a super busy schedule and I look for anything I can do to give me an edge. Right now, the biggest things I need to optimize in my life are time and money (I’m more focused on saving money, dental school isn’t cheap). In a quest for optimization, let me share with you the benefits I have found with meal-prepping and why it will help you tremendously in 3 main areas of your life.
First off, let’s get something straight; meal-prepping is not just for body builders and the “bro’s” you see at the gym. Meal-prepping is simply about creating tasty meals in advance so you can enjoy them later, and anyone can do that. Now you might be thinking “I can’t possibly eat the same thing more than 2 days in a row”, and you’re right, you can’t, unless you know the benefits of doing it AND the food tastes really good. Let’s talk about these 2 factors, and I’ll show you how to do both.
I got started with meal-prepping originally because I wanted to lose weight. I was a fluffy Air Force officer, and I was tired of how I looked in the mirror. I found that my friends who were in shape were posting pictures of healthy meals they made for the entire week and how beneficial it was for them to control their portions as well as avoid eating unhealthy restaurant food for lunch and dinner. Around the same time, I started training for my first triathlon, and I realized that the only way to stay fueled throughout the day for an afternoon workout was to eat a healthy, energy-rich lunch. My meal-prepping routine helped me control my portions and ensure I was giving my body the proper nutrients to be successful. While I slowly watched my weight decline, I also noticed a decline in my month spending. As it turns out, meal-prepping also has great financial advantages too! I did a recent comparison of eating out for lunch every day where I go to school for a week versus buying food from the store and meal-prepping all my lunches. Want to guess how much I saved by meal-prepping? Over half. Instead of spending $53 a week eating out, I spent $22 meal-prepping. I bet you will find a similar comparison wherever you live. So there is the health aspect, and saving money, but there is one more less obvious, but very helpful benefit to meal-prepping – time savings. I have an hour lunch break at school, and since I have my meal already prepared, it takes me 2 minutes to warm up, and then a few minutes to eat. I less than 10 minutes, I have eaten a healthy, low cost meal. Compare that timeline to walking to a restaurant, waiting in line, ordering, waiting for food, and then eating. I’m willing to bet I’d easily spend 20-30 minutes eating lunch that way. Now, I’m not all about just scarfing down your food like a caveman, but I am all about using my time wisely. If I can spend 50 minutes of my lunch hour responding to emails or studying, that is a huge benefit for me. What would you do with an extra 50 minutes?
So there are 3 main benefits to meal-prepping, but what about the whole ‘eating the same thing every day’ fact? Well, I can tell you that it’s actually something I look forward to because my wife and I are dedicated to making tasty food. You need to make things you enjoy eating. I guarantee anything you like to eat, you can figure out how to make enough of it to feed you for a week. For inspiration, my wife and I use Fit Men Cook which has tons of creative ideas that are perfect for meal-prepping. Some of our favorite dishes are Adult Mac-n-Cheese (loaded with veggies), Spicy Tuna Salad, Singapore Noodles, Sweet Potato Lasagna, Kielbasa, and Dirty Rice, to name a few.
Give meal-prepping a try, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner, I guarantee that you will be able to eat healthier, cheaper, and have more time for things that matter. My wife and I have been doing it for years, and I wouldn’t ever do anything else.