Meal Prep Your Way to Fitness? (My Experience with Meal Prepping)

If you’ve been around the online health and fitness community much, it’s impossible to miss seeing the tip to prepare and pre-portion all your meals in advance for the whole week. Meal prepping promises a bunch of benefits, like saving time throughout the week, helping you to have meals prepared to reduce the temptation to stop by Taco Bell, providing the confidence that you have exactly the right amount of food at each meal, and just helping you to conveniently eat healthy all week long.

Last weekend, we decided to try it. We purchased some mason jars to prep layered salads for our lunches and some microwavable containers to fill with our prepared meals for the evenings. The only meal I didn’t pre-portion was breakfast, but I purchased the ingredients for yogurt parfaits so I could quickly throw them together each morning.

With my husband’s help, we spent a couple hours in the kitchen getting all the components ready and then I measured them into our containers.

 

The week rolled around and we were ready to conveniently eat our healthy creations. At first, it was great. But then….

We slowly started finding “really good” excuses to eat other things. Even to eat out. I hadn’t brought anything to work Friday, but someone brought donuts, and I had one for breakfast and one for lunch. Thursday I had been called out to afterhours work to get a client into inpatient mental health treatment, so I wound up driving through McDonalds at midnight. One day I was really craving ice cream, so Dairy Queen it was.

The verdict was simple. Meal prepping is not for us. We ate way worse during the week of meal prepping than we usually do.

I still believe that meal prepping can work well for some people, but here are a few reasons it didn’t work for us.

  1. We kind of love food. We are doing our best to be conscientious of what we eat, but we really enjoy really good food. The idea of heating up food prepared days ago which consisted of vegetables, meat, and rice (even though we love vegetables, meat, and rice) made us squirm for something else.
  2. It took away the dinner experience. We found ourselves not eating dinner together, which is important to us. It would have been possible for us to take turns reheating our meals and then eat them together, but it just didn’t happen and for us that took away the discussion-over-dinner that we usually enjoy.
  3. Unplanned guests aren’t as easy to accommodate. We love the ability to have people over to our house whenever and even on the spur of the moment. Having a specific number of prepackaged meals makes this situation a bit more tricky.
  4. I couldn’t eat just a little bit. Because the meals were preportioned, if I came home from work and felt like just a little bit would be enough to fill me up, I didn’t have that option. There were some days I might have eaten less had my meals not been already measured out, and other days I was hungry for more.
  5. The actual prepping was not fun at all. I enjoy cooking, but cooking a bunch of different things really quickly to put in containers for the week? Not my idea of a good time. Personally, I’d rather cook each evening which adds up to more time per week in total than meal prepping all at once on a weekend.

Although it didn’t work for us, I think it could work very well for some people. Here are some things which I think would help you have more success than we did with meal prepping:

  • Being single. Meal prepping would be great because you could cook a normal-sized batch of something instead of having to try to cook for one each evening.
  • Training for something specific. We are just trying to be generally healthy. If you were training for a competition, meal prepping would be a sure way to get exactly what you need for that training.
  • Someone who hates to cook. I felt deprived because I didn’t get to cook all week. If you hate cooking, meal prep might be a good way to get out of that chore each day.

I’m glad that we decided to try this little experiment. Even though it didn’t work for us, it helped me gain a better understanding of how we can work on sustainable, long-term healthy decisions that work for our lifestyle. Let me know if you have had a similar or a different experience with meal prepping and leave some pointers in the comments section below for me or other readers who may be interested!

 


 

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