There are a ton of reasons why we meal prep. Some of us do it for convenience, while others do it to live a healthier, less processed food lifestyle. Some of us do it for a combination of both reasons, but whatever the reason you prep is, you’re always going to have doubters or nay-sayers.
I hear it all the time. “You’re so lucky you don’t have kids or a picky husband. You wouldn’t have as much time to meal prep and cook if you did.” Or the famous “I’m just way too busy to prep meals like that. It’s easier to grab something easy.”
I’d like to debunk something right now. Time is not the blame. As humans, we are always looking for excuses as to why we don’t or can’t do something, rather than just making things happen. For example, August was NOT a good month for me. Between birthdays, parties, weekends away, and busy evenings, I did not eat the way I would have liked to, and I completely skipped out on meal prep. I found myself saying once, that I had just been too busy and I stopped myself right there. I was not too busy to do anything, I was just choosing to not meal prep or eat well because I thought I had too much going on and I just wanted to take the easy way out. There is always time available to do the things you want to do. Whether it’s fitness, spend more time with family, read more, eat better, travel, etc, there is always time, it’s just about how we prioritize it. I came across a ton of blogs and Facebook posts recently of people sharing recipes but commenting and saying things like “Oh I wish I had time for this” or “wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have time to cook?”
This really got me thinking about the choices I make daily, and not just regarding food. How much time do I spend scrolling the news feeds, or mindlessly playing a game on my phone? If I have enough time to do all that, pin recipes I want to cook, and read blogs, etc, then I have plenty of time to execute these lifestyle changes and make things happen.
I have found though, that people who lead vastly different lives than me, compare themselves to me and usually make it a point to tell me I’m lucky to have all this free time to cook, because if I had children in sports and was running around trying to work, raise a family, and get through the day, I would not have time to cook. While I don’t fully understand how life is with children, I do understand the value of nutrition and important foods. I’d rather spend time prepping food to give to my family, then shove frozen chicken patties down their throat that contain a list of ingredients I can’t pronounce. If I did have children, I personally would want them eating things that not only taste good, but do good for their bodies, health, and mind.
There’s a million and one excuses for why we don’t do things, however, it’s fairly easy to set aside time and make it a point to do things that are important to us.
Here’s the the top five excuses I hear about why people don’t meal prep.
- “I don’t have the time to cook like that.”
- “I don’t know how to cook.”
- “My husband/family is really picky, they won’t eat that healthy stuff.”
- “It’s easier for us to eat out because of our lifestyle.”
- “I live alone, I don’t need to waste all that time cooking for myself.”
I think #5 is my favorite. Living alone is the easiest meal prep route to take. You don’t have to multiply recipes or take anyone else’s palate into consideration. I’m also partial to #3. Maybe you do have picky eaters, but Pinterest alone has hundreds of meal prep and clean eating boards dedicated to please picky eaters.
As for #1, you do have time, it’s just about how you carve it out of your day. If you’re reading this blog, you have time to slice up vegetables or boil some rice. #2 is an easy fix. You don’t have to be a chef. Meal prepping isn’t about making gourmet breakfast and lunch dishes. It’s about making food that is filling and healthy, and encouraging you from making rash decisions like just grabbing a burger or a pizza. Which leads me right into #4. Yes, it’s so much easier to grab something to eat every night. There’s no clean up, and no cooking time, but the chances are those meals are loaded with ingredients that are just going to make you more tired than you already are. (We do grab meals during the week sometimes, but I always try to go for the healthier menu items, or the items that contain a lot of fresh ingredients.)
In regards to all the reasons people say they can’t meal prep, here’s five reasons why you can, and you should!
- “Once it’s done, it’s done.”
- “You know exactly what you’re eating and where it came from.”
- “You save tons of time during your day/week on deciding what to cook.”
- “You feel better. More awake, more energy, and more patience.”
- “You make better choices throughout the day when you’re eating well.”
To break it down starting with #1 and #3, although you might spend three hours on a Sunday morning planning and cooking, you’re pretty much done for the rest of the week. You can spend the rest of your time focusing on other things like family, friends, or other hobbies you may have. Maybe you want to exercise more or go on a walk with a friend. Not only do you have some extra time to do that since your meals are prepared, but you also are more likely to be apt to getting exercise because your putting good, healthy foods in your body. You think clearer when you eat right, which ties in both #4 and #5. Once you start living a healthier lifestyle, you’re going to start craving the freshness of raw, unprocessed foods after a while, and if you use a lot of fruits and vegetables, or organic local meats, then you have no questions about the quality of your food, or what’s in it, which wraps up #2.
So you’ve started prepping, you’ve got two weeks in, and then something happens and you falter. Maybe you got sick or went on vacation and indulged and it’s been hard for you to get back on board with healthy choices. It’s okay, it happens to everyone. The best thing to do is prepare yourself for moments like this. Allow yourself to “cheat” sometimes and have something you’re craving, but prepare yourself for the worst. When you’re hungry during the day and someone brought donuts to work, it is really easy to grab one. But if you prepare yourself with some premade snacks, you could grab those instead.
Make a menu! I can’t preach this enough. List breakfast, lunches, snacks, and dinner so that everyone is one board and knows what’s available. Hang the menu on the fridge, or somewhere you’ll see it throughout the day. You need to be reminded sometimes of what’s available, and what options you have. Creating a menu or a meal plan will help you stick to things, especially if they’re already made. You won’t want to waste a bunch of premade lunches and snacks!
Prepare different bowls for different people, or mix things up so you don’t get bored eating the same thing. People tell me all the time they would get bored eating the same meal every day. Well, then eat something different every other day. Swamp out a protein packed turkey lettuce bowl, for a quinoa roasted veggie bowl.
Don;t skip breakfast! Whether you pre-package fruits and veggies for smoothies, or you drink a protein shake, do not skip this meal! There are TONS of breakfast ideas all over the internet that can be made ahead. I’m currently on a baked oatmeal kick, and you can customize your muffins every week by simply changing up the fruit! You’ll never get bored with that!
Meal prepping can be tough. There are times I want to do nothing on a Sunday morning, but I know if I let myself do that, I’ll do nothing all week. Don’t let tough be your defeat! Meal prepping is the easiest way to start making a lifestyle change, and it’s a great stepping stone. Always work on yourself from the inside out. If you put good into your body, you’ll get good out. Embarking on a lifestyle change to become healthier, starts with food and exercise, and you can’t expect to eat a chicken sandwich from Wendy’s and want to work out after. If you plan out your eating habits throughout the week, chances are you’ll make a ton of other healthy changes as well.
For anyone looking to star prepping, I’ve got a few recipes listed on my blog. Pinterest is another great place to look! All this information is readily available to you, if you truly want to do it!
Above all, remember not to be too hard on yourself. We all have moments of weakness and that’s okay. Be good to yourself though, and be positive, and get back on track 🙂