If you look around in social media, meal prep seems to be an ultimate must for all healthy living people who work out, “eat clean” and want to be fit. Suddenly Tupperware gets the it-piece at work and everyone wants to brag around with lovely glasses and jars with homemade food in it. But wait – remember the days when it was super uncool when your mum prepared sandwiches because all the others had cool stuff from a store? So why now? Why the endless hours in the kitchen, filling food into plastic boxes and carrying them to work and other places? Just because of the “fitfam” on Instagram and the cool new word?
The pros of meal prepping
There are some reasons why it makes sense to prepare your food in advance. If you follow (or have to follow because of medical reasons) a certain diet, it is probably the only way to fully stick to the food concept, especially if you follow a very specialized plan. You know what’s in it and you know that there won’t be bad surprises. You have a detailed knowledge about your calorie intake, if you wish. If you cook in advance, there won’t be a chance to cheat.
Another good thing is that you’ll definitely save money, because your shopping manners will change too. Making a plan probably involves planning the dishes, so you will only buy stuff you need – which will be recognizable also on your bank account.
Third, you will think about food and nutrition more than before. You will learn about ingredients, carbs, proteins, fat and all the other stuff and you will soon know what grows around you on season. You will be aware of quality. And you will have fun in cooking with all that stuff.
The cons of meal prepping
Of course there a cons too. One thing is definitely that it is time-consuming. You have to go shopping. You have to cook it. You have to fill it into boxes and glasses. Some people prepare one week in advance on the weekend. Which means that they won’t have a choice during the week what to eat. And probably the food won’t be as tasty after a few days as at the beginning. But even if you just cook for a few days, it is not necessarily a pleasure to start cooking after work and sports.
Another thing is the social aspect. For example, if all your colleagues have lunch together in a restaurant, you won’t be able to join if you really stick to your preps. No friend invitations, no surprise dinners with your loved one, no spontanous burger eating.
You will also have to stick to food that can be heatened up easily and still tastes good, or to food which you can eat cold too. Which of course narrows your menu (which might be narrowed anyways by your eating concept). Which can get boring.
So what’s my approach?
You might have recognized, that I don’t give a sh**t about all those super fancy eating concepts. I would only follow a meal plan if I had to (from a medical point of view). I hate supplements and powders and try to eat only natural and “real” food. Lucky me I am healthy and not a body builder or fitness model ;-) I just love my own homemade food, I love to try out new meals and experiment with awesome and healthy ingredients. I only listen to my body and try to give myself everything I need.
And yes, I also do meal prepping. During the last weeks I had to start early at work and bringing my breakfast is a good solution in order to have enough time to enjoy it. It’s also because otherwise I would have to eat it so early that I would be hungry way before lunchtime. Our company restaurant is pretty good, but I feel that they cook with ingredients which my body doesn’t like too much. And I got rather picky in choosing the ingredients: I try to avoid (animal) fat, white flour and meat. So I vary and bring my own food on some of the days each week.
But I always bring my own meals and snacks to the dropzone. One the one hand it is because it saves time – on busy days as video jumper I wouldn’t have time to really eat at the restaurant. And on the other hand I want to avoid eating too much of the food from there. It tastes good, but hey, only fried and fat food might be a bad idea on a hot day of jumping (which doesn’t mean that we don’t eat all together after the last jump and enjoy a decent Schnitzel).
Which leads me to my final conclusion. Personally, I don’t want to give up my freedom to eat spontanously and enjoy those surprising meals. I don’t want to be rude and bring my stuff to invitations or parties (I have to admit that I hate it when people do this). I don’t want to have a bad conscience when I don’t know exactly what I put into my mouth. I want to think about other stuff than food. I want to be flexible and still have fun with eating and food. Most of the time I watch out for what I am eating, but hey – life’s short so don’t worry too much. And no, you won’t get fat, unhealthy and ugly because on or the other not homemade meal ;-)