A few hours of meal prep early in the week can eliminate hours of work and food decision regret, sometimes disgused as mom guilt (hello too much mac and cheese or takeout), later in the week.
Practicing the week meal prep Sunday ritual can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to healthy eating as a family.
I'm still working on being really consistent with prepping my meals and snacks on Sundays and am always most successful when I've done two steps in advance.
First, making a Sunday meal prep plan that includes all recipes plus the required groceries, which I don't write down until after checking out my pantry to see what we actually need. The second key to following through with meal prepping is to actually have my groceries.
Benefits Of Starting The Meal Prep Sunday Ritual
There are some great benefits to following a Sunday meal prep plan that will have leave you with your meals planned and prepped ahead of time.
Can you just imagine the relief you will feel on those busy weeknights when you pull a prepped meal out of the fridge? The more I follow through with this practice, the more ease I build into our lives. And the less I worry if the other foods my kids eat aren't as good as I'd like.
That's why I want to share with you the number one reason I believe meal prepping is worthwhile to pursue and it has nothing to do with nutrition.
1. Meal prepping makes you happier
I'm going to assume that I am not the only parent who finds the hours of 4-7 pm overwhelming. Even though I actively limit weekday playdates and extracurriculars to keep our schedule simple, there's still a lot to squeeze in the few hours before bedtime. The most important is that the kids want to connect after a day away from us.
When my meals are prepped, I can hang out with my kids free from distraction while our food cooks, rather than potentially extend their screen time because I need them to be distracted. It feels amazing to connect with them earlier in the evening and more often than not, this time leads to a more relaxed family dinner.
Meal prep Sunday helps me feel happier every evening when I eat a healthier meal with my family after spending some quality time with my kids. Then after dinner, we can step back into the busyness of a weekday evening.
2. Eat more mindfully
It’s easier to avoid overeating when you prep your meals in advance. I've spent many an evening snacking while preparing dinner, only to end up too full to enjoy the meal or to eat it anyway and feel gross.
Making the decision of what to eat ahead of time keeps you from preparing too much food that you feel you need to either finish or waste.
3. Prepping your meals has built in accountability
If you prep all of your meals in advance, what happens if you don’t eat them?
You end up throwing them away, which is the same as throwing away the money you spent on it. If you’ve already prepped the food, you're less likely to waste it since it's ready to eat.
When you start healthy meal planning, it usually saves you a significant amount of money compared to eating out or ordering in. It will actually help to reduce your monthly meal spending.
Meals prepared at home are generally healthier than takeout (not to mention more eco-friendly) and are less expensive than last minute eating out.
4. Meal prepping saves you time
While meal prep Sunday may feel like a large time investment up front, you can actually prepare a week’s worth of meals in not much longer than it takes to make a single meal and school lunches.
Cleaning, chopping and preparing your meal ingredients ahead of time means that at the end of a long day, when you’re feeling tired, you just have to dump everything into a skillet or pot and dinner’s ready in no time. What could be less stressful?
5. Create multiple meals to simplify your life
Embracing meal prep Sunday isn’t just about fixing weekday dinners.
If you’re planning your healthy meals ahead of time, you can also plan dinner leftovers for lunch the next day. Make one meal, but eat it twice. Just choose recipes that make a little more than you need or double the recipe. Then, you have dinner one night and lunch the next day. Or, freeze half so you have a quick dinner the following week that’s already cooked.
I also like to prep at some healthy breakfast recipes like overnight oats and a batch of chocolate chai pudding because they don't add more than 10 minutes to my meal prep but having them ready in the fridge of a weekday morning puts me at ease.
Meal prep doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. In fact, if you plan well, you can prep a week’s worth of meals within about two hours on Sunday afternoon.
Then you’ll have easy, healthy dinners all week long, saving yourself time and stress at the end of a long workday. Plus, you'll be able to spend more evenings doing the things that make you happier like reconnecting with your family.