I have lived a meal prep lifestyle since March 2013. I didn’t even realize I’d lived a meal prep lifestyle for that long until I was prepping and researching for this post. I went combing through my social media accounts, which started in 2013 and the earliest picture of my meal prep lifestyle was dated March 10, 2013. To be honest, I think I was living a meal prep lifestyle prior to this, but I hadn’t started sharing about my meal prep lifestyle to others.
I cannot even really recall how I came to know about or decide to live a meal prep lifestyle. I do remember that around that time I started to learn about and complete extreme workouts like P90x and Insanity to name a few. I was getting frustrated that despite putting in the work (blood, sweat and tears, I wasn’t seeing the type of results (muscle and definition) that I wanted. I heard my video trainers (ShaunT and Tony Horton) consistently telling me that I had to eat for my results. They both preached pretty heavily that diet, sometimes even more so than exercise, was what would lead to great results. Somewhere around that time I decided to care more about what I ate. Because of my busy life teaching and being in a PhD program, I knew my only chance of being successful was to live a meal prep lifestyle, even though I had no clue that’s what it was called at the time.
What is a meal prep lifestyle?
Well, meal prep is a system where you prepare your meals on a specific day or days to have greater control over how much and what you are eating. There are many different reasons why people live a meal prep lifestyle and many different goals people try to attain by living a meal prep lifestyle.
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For me, living a meal prep lifestyle has always been about wanting to eat clean (eat a greater majority of food and meals that are good for me, that do not include large amounts of unnecessary and harmful sugars, fats etc.). I have never been very rigid in my meal prep lifestyle. For example, I stick strictly to my meal prep lifestyle during the week, but am very relaxed on the weekends, unless I am completing a workout program or trying to achieve some type of specific goal.
Case in point about a time when I was very rigid with my meal prep lifestyle was when I was preparing for my wedding in Jamaica and also when I was trying to feel more like myself after having my son. Normally, I try to aim for the 85/15 rule as I live my meal prep lifestyle, which means that I eat clean 85% of the time and the other 15, I will eat whatever I feel like, regardless of its nutritional value.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do not always do a good job living a meal prep lifestyle and for a long time I made several meal prep mistakes. There are some days and weeks when I just don’t want to eat clean and I choose not to, but because I usually eat clean whenever I don’t or if I overdo it, I feel awful and am happy to get back on my meal prep lifestyle track quickly.
How does meal prep work?
Well, to live a meal prep lifestyle, you pick a day or days when you will prepare your healthy meal options. For me that day is usually Sundays and here and there on a Monday. I will cut, cook and prepare all my meals that help me to live a meal prep lifestyle for the week on Sunday and then share them into containers to be eaten as breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks for the week.
Why is meal prep important?
For me, a meal prep lifestyle is important for many reasons, but there are three that stand out:
A meal prep lifestyle will help you to meet and maintain your health and fitness goals. I don’t know about you, but I hated and still hate working hard to get in shape and then being right back where I started in a few weeks. As I mentioned earlier, my online Beachbody trainers mentioned in every workout that more than anything, what you ate would determine the level of health and fitness you could achieve. Choosing and living a meal prep lifestyle helps me to be healthier and fitter than ever before in my life.
A meal prep lifestyle will help you to save money. Eating out for one or all 3 meals becomes expensive fast. I can purchase all the items for my weekly meal prep for much less than it would cost me to eat out for even half of the days of the week. When I realized how much money I would save by starting a meal prep lifestyle not just for me, but for my entire family, it gave me huge motivation to make the change to a meal prep lifestyle.
A meal prep lifestyle prevents food and healthy eating from being an issue and helps to get rid of excuses. Before meal prepping, I hated deciding every day and several times a day what to eat. In my dislike for the whole process, I would just try to put together the quickest, easy meal I could and in many cases it wasn’t the healthiest option. Starting a meal prep lifestyle makes food and meals a non-issue or at the least minimizes it.
After completing the meals to live my meal prep lifestyle on Sunday, I am done for the week. In about an hour (it took a while to get my meal prep to that short of a time), I have healthy, delicious meals that cost much less than eating out and that also help me to stay true to my health and fitness goals, which is a large part of why I started a meal prep lifestyle.