The Truth About Meal Prepping

I, like most UC San Diego students, am pretty busy. Between homework, my job, extracurriculars, and now a commute to school, I feel like I barely have time to breathe. Something that has been particularly challenging for me is cooking. Since I have moved into my apartment, I have found that cooking takes a long time, not to mention the grocery store trips and washing dishes. It has gotten to the point where if I wanted to make a homemade meal, I would end up behind in everything else. 

This is why I decided to try out meal prepping. By this, I mean planning out what I am going to eat ahead of time and pre-preparing everything to the best of my ability. This could entail pre-cooking all your meals or simply chopping up the ingredients you already know you’re going to use. Though meal prepping has been in existence for quite a long time, I see it most on TikTok, where people recommend different food-prep meals to put in little containers for the rest of the week. I have been trying the same for a few weeks now and, while not an expert, I feel at least a little qualified to tell you all about it. 

Let’s start with the benefits of meal prep. The main thing that I have noticed is that the pre-made meal structure reduces your cooking time to ten minutes or less. There is also far less cleaning to be done afterwards. My grocery trips have also been faster, seeing that I know exactly what I am prepping and what I need to buy. This also allows me to plan to buy things that are on sale by looking on the website or grocery store ads. I have also discovered that planning ahead of time makes me less likely to buy impulsive purchases. 

Additionally, prepping my meals ahead of time has resulted in them being healthier and more balanced. When I plan my meals, I am able to make sure that I am including every group on the food pyramid. Before this I was just eating what I had available, which usually only had one or two different food groups. Having a more colorful and nutritious plate has been a great change of pace for me. 

However, there are definitely downsides to meal prep. Although I personally like the consistency, many people do not like eating the same meal several days in a row. I will admit that it is easy to get sick of even your favorite meals if you are having them every day. I have also found that it is hard to keep track of portion sizes because the truth is, you do not know how hungry you’ll be until right before you eat, possibly making the meal you have packed either too big or too small. You also might prepare too much food at the start of the week (or however far ahead you plan for) and it can go bad before you can eat it all. And finally, although cooking will be quicker most days, you usually have to set aside one to two hours every week to actually do the prepping. 

So, there it is. The real truth about meal prep. Personally, I enjoy it. It saves me time, money, and effort, and who am I to say no to that? However, I totally understand those of you who will say, “no thanks, I’ll try something else.” Meal prepping is not for everyone, and the sooner you find out what works for you, the better. 

That’s all for today. Have fun cooking!

Photo via Ella Olsson on Unsplash

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