I remember once visiting a friend who was getting ready for a fitness competition.
She opened her fridge to consider our dinner options and there was no actual food in the fridge, no ingredients, just neatly stacked rows of tupperware full of breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week, all carefully organized and colour coded. Chicken, sweet potato, fish, green beans, oatmeal.
Each week she cooked and prepared all her meals for the week ahead. So organized, so intimidating.
We went out and got Indian food instead. Phew!
People like advance meal prep for planning purposes. You won’t be caught off guard without healthy meals at the ready. It’s also typically praised for portion control. When done right, meal prep sure does photograph well. See 20 Photos That Prove Meal Prepping Is a Way of Life. There’s an instagram hashtag and loads of pinterest boards. I don’t make them but I think the meals in mason jars look the prettiest.
Occasionally I give it a go and make batch meals for the week. But in my house this plan can go wrong in one of two ways.
Way 1: Teenagers discover that what’s in the matching tupperware containers tastes good. Portion control be damned. They combine the contents of two or three containers to make a meal.
Way 2: I get sick of the contents, eat non prepped meals, and later throw out the rotten food and feel guilty. When I posted on our Facebook page about this a reader confessed that she too often threw out the healthy meals after they’d gone bad. I’m not alone!
I’ve discovered a solution for the first problem. Opaque tupperware. No one peaks in and my food is safe. Shhhh! But the second problem? Not so much.
In the end there’s some things I can prep and other meals I have to just buy ingredients and let things happen. Too much planning, for me, can be too much of a good thing. I do like cleaning and chopping veggies in advance. And there are some breakfasts I like to make in advance, like these egg and veggie muffins and also tubs of cottage cheese with fruit and granola. But planning out everything is just a little bit too much for me.
How about for you? How much structure and planning do you like around meals? Is advance meal prep a way of life for you? Or do you do it all on the the fly?