It’s hard to cook for yourself when life gets busy, but meal preparation is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Meals from restaurants tend to be full of fat and calories - even if they seem healthy on the surface, commercial kitchens have lots of tricks up their sleeve to make things taste better. Usually one of those tricks is adding butter! When you cook for yourself, you know exactly what you’re eating, which can both save you money and save you from putting on extra pounds. In addition, paying more attention to what you eat can help you start to be more mindful of how nutritious your food is, and what foods you might need to eat more of to maintain a balanced diet.
Meal preparation can seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to be a five-star chef to cook meals that are tasty and nutritious - you just have to figure out how to cook a few things well, and then mix and match them to add variety. For example, if you have a rice cooker, you can keep rice on hand and make a stir fry with vegetables, fried rice, or have the rice as a side dish with steamed veggies and chicken. If you have a slow cooker, you can make a great brisket with minimal effort, and use it in a stew.
Meal prep also gives you an idea of what you’ll be eating throughout the week, so you don’t have to think about food as much. If you’re able to chop a bunch of veggies on Sunday and eat them throughout the week, it makes that healthy meal even quicker to make. If you have day-old ingredients like cooked chicken or quinoa, you can put together a salad for lunch in a few minutes. Nutritionists tell us that it’s important to get a variety of foods in our diets, so if you make a meal plan early in the week and do most of your shopping in one fell swoop, you’ll be able to see at a glance what foods you’re eating a lot of. This will help you make informed choices about your diet.
It’s easy to start to scrutinise the ingredients you’re using when you’re preparing meals at home, but don’t be too hard on yourself right away. If meal preparation isn’t something you’re used to doing, it will take time to build the habit of making your own food rather than getting takeout all the time. Make the meals you want to eat to get yourself into the routine first, then start changing your diet when you’re already used to meal preparation. You can buy healthy meals pre-made, but meal preparation will always give you more of the balance and control that’s necessary for a healthy lifestyle. And you can always treat yourself with takeout every once in a while! Just make the majority of your meals yourself, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier you.