Meal Prep. This phrase is thrown around quite a bit when we talk about ways to optimize our time. But what is meal prep, and why does it matter to you? We’re sharing our top three reasons to meal prep and why bringing your own lunch to work will make you happier, healthier and save you money.
SO WHAT IS MEAL PREP?
“Meal Prep”, short for Meal Preparation, is simply preparing a recipe and portioning it out into several meals for a later point in time. Some people meal prep for an entire week and eat one singular meal, while other like to spice it up and try different options to mix and match throughout the week.
For the working person, meal prep is a great opportunity to bring lunch to work with you instead of wasting your time, money and energy buying lunch each day.
Pop Quiz: How much does buying lunch really cost you?
Answer: A lot. Like a lot, a lot. While each fast food or deli run may seem inexpensive, your gourmet lunches add up fast. The average American spends between $6 and $10 buying lunch each day. Over the course of a week, this adds up to around $40. In a month, that’s $160 and by the end of the year, you have spent around $2,000 buying lunches alone.
But does meal prepping really save you that much money?
The average packed lunch equals out to around $3, usually for larger portions, saving you more than $1,000 each year. With that extra cash, you can go on a vacation, pay off some of your student loans or go skydiving with five of your closest friends. The choice is yours.
Let’s be honest here. Lunch time is most of our favorite time of the day. We savor our hour of freedom to soak up some sun, chat with coworkers about life or simply relax.
Well, buying your lunch eats up that precious time. Waiting in line at your lunch spot of choice and finding a place to sit in a crowded cafeteria or restaurant generally eats up at least 15-20 minutes of your break. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time enjoying your meal and decompressing?
But doesn’t packing your lunch waste time at home?
Let’s say that you ate chicken and rice for dinner last night. While you may not want to eat the exact same meal again, mix it up for a quick and easy lunch. Make a chicken and avocado sandwich, or throw some veggies into a to-go container and make a rice bowl.
We could all use a few more vitamins in our body, right? Meal prepping and packing your own lunch ensures that you are eating a delicious and nutritious lunch every day, instead of guessing what meat is inside your meal.
Preparing your lunch at home lets you be in control of whatever you want to eat. When you pack your lunch either the night before or the morning of work, you are making the most rational health decisions. When lunchtime approaches and your stomach has been growling all morning, most of us are likely to choose whatever lunch spot is closest to work, instead of scouting for the best options.
But if I pack my own lunch, what if I pack all junk food?
People who bring their lunch may be more likely to stick to diets, since the temptation of a burger is off the table. You get to choose exactly which ingredients go into your meal, and you are completely in control of your portion size.
Why do you meal prep, and what are some of your tips to get started? Let us know in the comments.
Healthy Lunch & Snack Recipes
Check out these resources on packing lunches for work: