You’re busy. Between career and caregiving, juggling the family calendar, soccer schedules, and a to-do list that feels a million miles long, it can be easy to fall back on convenience food and takeout meals at the end of the day. But relying on processed foods, prepackaged food, and the drive-thru can slowly and surely erode your health. If you want to eat better and make sure your family is getting the nutrients they need, meal prepping could be the answer to healthy meals that won’t sacrifice precious hours.
The Best Meal-Prepping Tools
If you’re ready to start meal prepping, there are a few tools that can come in handy and make the process even faster, easier, and healthier. Here are the meal-prepping tools we can’t do without:
The success of your meal-prepping adventure hinges on your choice of containers. Seek out a diverse collection of top-notch, glass food prep containers or BPA-free containers in various sizes.
Why BPA-free? Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in the production of certain plastics. According to the Mayo Clinic, exposure to BPA is a concern due to its potential effects on the brain and hormone production, especially in infants and children.
Stocking up on glass containers in a range of sizes makes portioning a breeze, so you can prep for solo diners or the entire clan. Clear glass containers help you see what’s inside for quick meal recognition, drastically cutting down those fridge-scouring minutes.
Measuring Cups and Scoops
While measuring cups and scoops might not be the stars of the show, they’re the silent workhorses in the meal prep game. Uniform scoops ensure that you dish out precise portions of grains, proteins, and veggies, which can be helpful if you’re trying to manage your weight, count calories, or track macros. A study from the University of Cambridge found that larger portion sizes lead to individuals eating more, even if they aren’t hungry. Measuring out your meal prep portions with measuring cups and scoops can help ensure you’re not over-filling your glass containers and can help you keep track of portion size and calories.
When you’re serious about hitting your health goals, a food scale can be a huge asset in your meal prep toolkit. Scales can help you get a better understanding of macros and calories and will completely take the guesswork out of portion control.
If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain muscle mass as you age, protein is a key macronutrient. Yet, most of us aren’t getting close to what we need, according to Dr. Gabriella Lyon.
“People say well we’re eating too much [protein], but we’re eating just barely above the RDA. Most adults are eating right around 1.0 grams per kg or a little less. So we’re not eating high, we’re eating pretty close to the minimum,” says Dr. Lyon. “Even the recommended vegetarian diet is 1.5 times the RDA.”
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. But, according to Dr. Lyon, we should be eating 1.2 to 1.6 grams per kg—double the RDA.
You can use this calculator to determine your ideal daily protein intake. Then, utilize a food scale to help you measure out the correct amount of protein for your meal prep containers.
Using a scale to measure your food can be an easy way to reach your weight goals. Research from the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity revealed that consistent food tracking is associated with weight loss, and using scales can elevate the accuracy of this tracking.
Why Splurge on Meal-Prepping Tools?
The right meal prep tools can help you turn meal prep day into a healthy habit that will benefit your weight and help you reach—and maintain—your health goals. A small investment in a few tools can help you reap the benefits of meal prepping, including:
Take control of your health: Steering the culinary wheel, you become the master of your ingredients, favoring freshness and quality. A report from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics indicated that home-cooked meals are more likely to include nutrient-rich ingredients and fewer calories, both beneficial for your health.
Save money on meals: Those frequent restaurant tabs? They add up. But with your meal-prepping toolkit, bulk buys translate to long-term savings. It’s about five times more expensive to order delivery from a restaurant than it is to cook at home.
Take back your time: Arguably the biggest meal-prepping win is getting back your time. A few dedicated hours and voila – you’re set for the week. If you have a few hours to spend prepping, you can sail through the rest of the week without worrying about anything but a few dishes. (We haven’t found a magical fix for this, yet.)
Slash food waste: The tailored approach of meal prepping significantly slashes food wastage. By cooking just what’s needed, those heart-wrenching moments of trashing expired food become rare. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted. Meal prepping can play a role in curbing this issue.
Meal prepping can help you eat healthier, save money, reduce food waste, and take back more of your precious, limited time. Spend that extra time with your family, friends, or engaged with an activity that lights you up and nourishes your soul. That’s quite a bit of magic hiding in a glass container, measuring cup, or kitchen scale.