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Healthy You

Meal Preparation: What is it, and Why Should You Start?

Monday, July 17, 2017 12:44 PM

With busy summer schedules in full swing, maintaining a healthy summer diet can be challenging. Meal preparation is one way to maintain control over your food intake for a stress-free, cost-effective approach in achieving your summer diet goals.

Meal preparation can take many ways, shapes and forms. Jessica Hicks, RD, Dietitian at NorthShore, shares a few examples of what meal prep looks like:

  • Prepare meals for five days or just one
  • Prepare each meal in its entirety
  • Prepare separate ingredients (i.e. cut vegetables and cook meats) to speed up the cooking process later

No matter how far you take it, meal preparation is recommended to ensure you have time to properly consider your food intake and create meals you will enjoy.

Benefits to meal preparation

Meal preparation allows for you to eat your favorite meals while pre-determined portion sizes ensure you don’t overindulge. Having a collection of well-balanced meals on hand will help you regulate what you eat and help you stay on track with your personal diet goals.

If the health benefits alone have not convinced you to consider meal preparation, consider the financial gains. Having food prepared at home will help you save money as it prevents you from eating out. Along with this, meal preparation gives you complete control over ingredients, giving you the ability to selectively shop for groceries. With proper planning, you can prevent making unnecessary food purchases, saving you money and reducing food waste.

Strategies for successful meal preparation

Meal preparation requires, well, preparation! Plan ahead. Consider your budget, favorite foods and- most importantly - consider your personal goals. Gather recipes that include ingredients from each food group to ensure balanced meals (including protein, starch and vegetables). From there, make a grocery list, map out portions and start cooking!

Tips to try today:

  • Cook in large batches-particularly grains as they take a long time to cook- to save time and energy
  • Freeze any food that you won’t be able to eat within five days
  • Make sure you have plenty of single meal-sized containers for storage

Whether it’s planning for a week of meals or just the day before, meal preparation can ease your stress and help you stay on track with your health and wellness goals. With a healthy meal plan that you create, you are sure to enjoy each meal and advance your culinary skills in the process!